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Mexican Independence - Sunday Celebration Sees Success
Colorful dancers - from the classic Ballet Folklorico to Hawaiian - along with lively music, food, the prancing hoof beats of dancing horses, and a general feeling of celebration filled the air in Riverbank on Sept. 16, as the Sister Cities Committee hosted an Independence Day party for Mexico.

"We also had a parade and we invited everyone, it was just a celebration, a multi-cultural event with the basis of Mexican Independence Day," said Alex Aguilar, a committee member. "Our numbers show we had close to 1,500 people, from Escalon, Oakdale, Modesto, some from as far as Patterson."

Riverbank residents also turned out in force, with the local Boy Scout Troop opening the Sunday afternoon parade, with a variety of floats and entries following, ranging from more than two dozen low rider cars cruising the streets to over three dozen horses from multiple equestrian associations.

Festivities also included introduction of the newly chosen Queen and Princess for the celebration, with Diana Suarez crowned as the queen and Daniela Aguilar crowned as the princess. Both are Riverbank residents, though the queen contest was open to all those who met the qualifications from throughout the county.

"This is the first time we've done the Queen and Princess pageant," said Aguilar.

According to information provided about the royal contest, officials were "striving to bring the pride of the Mexican heritage through this contest, to motivate the candidates to desire to learn about their culture and language."

The hope also is that they will continue to be active in their community, eventually becoming leaders.

The Sister Cities Committee was looking for a way to bring the community together and Aguilar said this seemed to be a good fit, with the celebration drawing in the crowd from Riverbank and beyond.

Authentic food was served up, music and entertainment was virtually non-stop and the late summer sun shone on the celebration, which started at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Helping coordinate the festivities were officials from the Cultural Center of Riverbank, and the activities were centered around the Plaza del Rio in the heart of downtown.

"We just wanted all cultures to join in," Aguilar added. "We're expecting to keep this going."