The first annual Mexican Independence Day Festival in Williams on Sunday was a success for the Spanish English Committee of Williams (SPENCOW), giving the group a solid foundation to build upon in years to come, organizers said.
Attendance wasn’t quite what they had hoped, but Venice Park had a modest crowd throughout the day’s events.
“We really expected it to be like this. We had a hard time getting it announced on the radio, because there was another big event going on in Yuba City,” Williams City Council member and SPENCOW Secretary Santos Jauregui said. “But it’s going good so far, and we’re taking notes, looking at what we can do to improve and to make this better every year.”
Numbers climbed in the afternoon as the event was wrapping up — right around the time Jauregui shouted El Grito in celebration of Mexico’s independence.
As Jauregui listed the names of the heroes of the Mexican War for Independence, the small but enthusiastic crowd responded to El Grito with cries of “Viva!” replicating the exchange that took place at the National Palace at midnight on Sept. 15.
“This was the first year, and there are a lot of people working on Sunday, being in the middle of harvest. There were also a lot of other events (in nearby areas),” said SPENCOW member Vox Populi and Williams City Council candidate Roberto Mendoza. “For a start, it was great.”
Mendoza said that the celebration was a chance to bring the entire community of Williams together and to celebrate an the anniversary of Mexican independence in a community that is 85 percent Latino.
“It’s like the Fourth of July: Everything is open to everyone. We just thought celebrating it would be good for the community. A lot of our youngsters don’t know (what the significance of day is),” Mendoza said.
SPENCOW, Candidates for Local office address crowd
Two candidates for the County Board of Supervisors (Susan Meeker, District 4 and Mark Marshall, District 3), a candidate for the Williams Unified School District Board of Trustees (Maria Belmontes Leyva), and two candidates for the Williams City Council (Mendoza and incumbent Mayor John Troughton) spoke before the group gathered at Venice Park.
SPENCOW members and current Williams City Council members Chuck Bergson, Alfred Sellers, and Santos Jauregui also spoke on a number of issues and updated the community on SPENCOW’s progress on its seven point plan, which the trio ran on in 2014. The seven points include street repairs, sidewalk and crosswalk improvements, park improvements, street lights, mosquito abatement, water utility rebates, and developing a parks and recreation program.
“We’re about half way through our term, and of those seven points, we’ve accomplished about three,” Bergson said.
Bergson announced that he would be traveling to the Colusa County Transportation Commission meeting on Sept. 20 to “formally request funds for road repairs” in the City of Williams.
“The reason why our roads are so bad is that we’ve been paying taxes for years — about $1 million to $1.5 million that goes to the County Road Commission for road repairs, and you can see our roads are not repaired,” Bergson said. ■