Woodburn celebrates Hispanic Heritage month with a community gala in the Downtown Plaza

PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Keeping the water off the tarp tops, and hunkering down to stay dry, were key activities Sunday at The Plaza in downtown Woodburn as folks celebrated day 1 of Hispanic Heritage Month.Keeping dry was a premium pursuit around midday Sunday as folks trickled into the Downtown Plaza to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month.

Sunday marked day one of the overall celebration, which is officially recognized from September 15 through October 15.

Of course, it's anyone's guess what how mid-September weather will accommodate an outdoor festivity, but unless there's a hurricane or something equally forbidding, the culture celebrants in this vicinity were game and ready.

"Yesterday's weather would have been ideal," said Woodburn Community Relations Manager Maricela Guerrero, who held a tenuous dry patch beneath one of the numerous tarps shielding visitors and vendors alike. "But, oh well. You make the best of it."PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - An array of glittery wheels were on display Sunday at The Plaza in downtown Woodburn as folks celebrated day 1 of Hispanic Heritage Month.

A thirty-something hooded up and tucked beneath a food-serving tarp scarcely 10 yards away echoed the sentiment: "Yeah, it's wet, but you make the best of it."

That persistent early rain didn't appear to damper it for those on hand, perhaps in part as the gazebo entertainment kept music and audience interactive fun a part of the festivity to the enjoyment of the balance of the audience huddled beneath the spectator tent.

The rainy conditions didn't appear to put a dent in the car show either, as a number of sharp rods, classic Impalas and even a few cherried-out pick up trucks adorned the First Street environs.

The Woodburn gala is a microcosm of a national acknowledgment. The heritage website notes that: "Each year, Americans observe National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15, by celebrating the histories, cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America."

President Lyndon Johnson initiated the recognition in 1968 when Hispanic Heritage Week, and that was expanded 20 years later by President Ronald Reagan to the 30-day span it is today. PMG PHOTO: JUSTIN MUCH - Authentic food was part of the fare Sunday at The Plaza in downtown Woodburn as folks celebrated day 1 of Hispanic Heritage Month.

The heritage site further noted:

"The day of September 15 is significant because it is the anniversary of independence for Latin American countries Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. In addition, Mexico and Chile celebrate their independence days on September 16 and September18, respectively. Also, Columbus Day or DÍa de la Raza, which is October 12, falls within this 30 day period."

Meanwhile, in Woodburn the rains let up by mid afternoon, providing a welcoming scenario for later arrivers, and opening a window for the local event's official ceremony.

"It stopped raining around 3 p.m., and we got a great crowd -- it was full down here," Guerrero said.

The weather's fortuitous timing dried things up for the Mexican Consulate to comfortably perform the offical ceremony with the American and Mexican flags, assisted by the Mexican charros on horseback from Rancho Los Nayaritas, while the Oregon Army National Guard was also on hand for the observance.

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