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New event encourages C-U Latino community to celebrate Mexican Independence Day

Armando Garcia, right, and Taylina Ortiz of the Los Diablitos Azules Folklorico dance troupe, from Tucson, Ariz., perform Sunday, Sept. 26, 2010, in Glendale, Ariz.

After three months of planning, two local groups have created a safe space for Latinos to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

University YMCA and Champaign-based restaurant Maize collaborated to commemorate El Grito. El Grito, or the “Cry for Dolores,” is the battle cry and the start of the liberation of Mexico from Spain on September 16, 1810.

The event includes live music, food and folklorico dancers for the community to enjoy.

YMCA outreach team leader Belinda Guillen helped plan the event. Guillen said Mexican Independence Day has different traditions, some of which take place the day before.

“Normally the president of Mexico reenacts the event [El Grito] or it is done by the governors or those who represent the authority in the government at that moment,” Guillen said.

Guillen said their planning team tried to make the event as inclusive as possible. 

“We have invited business owners, Mexican immigrants who want to join the celebration. There will be an area inside the restaurant where they will be able to sell their crafts or products,” Guillen said.

Guillen has lived in Champaign-Urbana for four years, and she is happy to be already organizing events for the Mexican community.

Latino students at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign are also hosting a celebration.

Yeyo Mercado, a senior at the university and brother of Lambda Theta Phi Latin Fraternity, Inc., said their organization is co-sponsoring an event that commemorates “El Grito.” The campus event will showcase different student organizations and performances. 

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Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez-Perez

Luis Velazquez- Perez recently earned a B.S. in Journalism with a minor in Latina/Latino studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He is now pursuing his Master's in Journalism. Aside as an intern at Illinois Newsroom, Velazquez-Perez has written for The Daily Illini, Cicero Independiente and C-U CitizenAccess. He aspires to be a bilingual public radio journalist

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