“This is a thing that is very special for us. It’s dear to our heart. It’s a celebration that we take pride in every year,” Brenda Hernández told Free Press Saturday.
She was one of the MCs for the Parade of the Americas at Fiesta de las Americas held on SW 25th between S Walker and S Robinson Avenues in its 12th year.
The Parade of the Americas is always the centerpiece of the event and it lived up to its reputation once again.
Dancers in beautiful attire of the various countries that make up Hispanic culture, horses and riders, dancers, floats entered by organizations made up a long parade that kept the crowd interested.
The event is organized by Calle dos Cinco in Historic Capitol Hill, an association of businesses along the street and nearby.
It was Ariana Miranda’s first parade with the Capitol Hill High School Marching Band.
The freshman would have been excused for feeling overwhelmed by the large flowing crowd along Calle dos Cinco (SW 25th Street) in Historic Capitol Hill.
After all, band members are accustomed to the orderly sidelines and clearly-marked fields of football games.
But marching in a parade with people darting in and out of an unfamiliar parade route is the marching band version of busking.
It didn’t much bother her, though. She seemed right at home.
That’s because she really was right at home. Ariana grew up on the near south side and was familiar with the crowds at the yearly celebration.
“It’s fun,” she told us with a big smile after the parade. But she had to go because after after the band took a breather, they were due up on the main stage.
Her director, Tristianne Asbury, told Free Press that Capitol Hill High School at 500 SW 36th Street is a part of the core of the heavily Hispanic part of Oklahoma City.
“We seek out opportunities to perform for the community,” Asbury said. “A lot of what we do outside of the classroom is performing in and around the south side of Oklahoma City.”
Asbury said that many of her students are from the culture being celebrated at the parade and all-day festival.
“It gives them a sense of pride in what they do in class, but also it connects them to their family and history,” she said. “So they love being here and love getting to see everything else and then, feel like they are really a part of it.”
State officials attend
Several public officials, most Democrats, were in the parade and didn’t miss the opportunity to make as much friendly contact with the crowd as they could.
Senator Michael Brooks Jiménez grew up on the near south side and has had a law practice there for years. Having run for political office in the past, he has had floats in several of the parades of the event.
But, this year was the first for him to be in the parade as a state senator. He recently won the Senate District 44 seat in a special election.
We asked what it felt like to be walking in the parade as Senator Michael Brooks.
“It feels good. It feels good for the community. I was born and raised on the south side of Oklahoma City. So, I love it. It’s been a dream of mine for a long time,” said Brooks.
Oklahoma City Councilman Todd Stone’s Ward 4 takes in the area. Ward 6 Councilwoman Meg Salyer also attended.
Stone described the event as “hugely important.”
“I don’t think there’s anywhere else in Oklahoma City that you can go and get this kind of broad spectrum of cultures,” Stone said.
Senator David Holt, who is running for mayor of Oklahoma City, walked in the parade with his campaign volunteers.
Scott Inman, Del City state representative and candidate for governor was in the parade along with southside representatives Forrest Bennett and Shane Stone.
Senator Kay Floyd, SD 46 was also greeting everyone she could along the parade route.
Kendra Horn, Democrat running for the 5th Congressional District seat was in the crowd as well.
The south side is a part of the 5th District.
“It’s really important to have the south side of Oklahoma City involved and engaged,” said Horn. “We need to have voices from all across the district.”