While her 3- and 5-year-old granddaughters eagerly raced to scoop up candy thrown by the marchers, Veronica Hernandez quietly reflected on what the Hispanic heritage parade Saturday in Kansas City, Kan., meant to her.
She particularly appreciated that the turnout included some non-Hispanic people.
“With all the news about immigration being what it is, it’s great how some people support our customs and support us in the community,” said the Kansas City, Kan., woman.
For Hernandez and most others who marched or rode in the parade or who lined Minnesota Avenue as spectators, the line of floats, vehicles, marching groups and horses represented a positive way to celebrate and share Hispanic customs.
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“We’re not just about Cinco de Mayo,” she said. “September is important in our Mexican heritage, especially Sept. 16. It celebrates our independence from Spain.”
Another heritage was celebrated by the group Danza Guadalupana, which performs spiritual dances, mostly in connection with St. John the Evangelist Church in Kansas City, Kan.
“The dancing is a tradition of Christians in Mexico who offer praise and thanks,” said Maggie Ramirez, a Danza Guadalupana member.
She said the dance group has existed in Kansas City, Kan., for 17 years and has 23 members.
“We’re very busy each December, especially on the Dec. 12 feast day” honoring Our Lady of Guadalupe, the patron saint of Mexico.
Also honored was the quinceañera celebration, a rite of passage for 15-year-old girls, which was represented by float entries showcasing the tradition of beautiful dresses for the honorees.
Briana Salinas, 14, marched with a group of girls affiliated with Divina Designs, owned by dress designer Connie Cervantes.
“We’ll also be modeling her designs Sept. 27 at the Hilton Garden Inn (in Independence), so people can see what a quinceañera decorator does,” Briana said.
Many of the marchers and float entries used the parade to hand out informational literature as well as candy. Brochures and business cards from real estate agents, landscapers, event planners, churches, social service agencies and Univision peppered the route between Fourth and 12th streets.
The parade was sponsored by a nonprofit group, Downtown Shareholders of Kansas City, Kan., in addition to Brotherhood Bank and the Bonito Michoacan restaurant at 12th and Minnesota, where the parade ended at a street fair. The event featured music, small carnival rides and booths selling jewelry, crafts and other items.