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Introducing Woodburn's Fiesta Mexicana Court and the Grand Marshal of its parade

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WOODBURN - The 2021 Fiesta Court, left to right, Eveline Morales, Jael Garcia, Jocelyn Mendez, Brenda Martinez and Aide Robles.Woodburn's Fiesta Mexicana is around the corner and some key announcements have been made as organizers are busy putting finishing touches on the event, which kicks off Aug. 7.

Woodburn Community Relations Manager Maricela Guerrero said the 58-year festival is being revamped following last year's pandemic hiatus.

"Last year we put Fiesta on hold," Guerrero said. "But not this year. We are back, and we are very excited about that."

Pastor Luis Molina of Woodburn Foursquare Church has been selected as the Fiesta Mexicana Parade Grand Marshal. The Woodburn City Council made the announcement during a recent summer meeting.

"La Fiesta Mexicana has had a long history — well over half a century — in our community," Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson said. "Honoring the work of farmworkers and our immigrant community, who more than a half a century ago came to our area to be essential participants in our community."

With a salute to his Guatemalan heritage, the grand-marshal baton was handed to Molina, who appeared unaware of the announcement pertained to beforehand.

"I thought the invitation that Scott (Derickson) made for me this morning was to announce that I am the new chief of the police. I thought that was the deal, Scott?" Molina jested. "I guess it's not me."

Molina then humbly accepted.

"I appreciate all of you being there for the city of Woodburn and all of its people," Molina said. "It is an honor to say thank you for thinking of me."

Guerrero said Molina's appointment as grand marshal was "very, very well deserved."

"We are very excited to have Pastor Luis with us as our grand marshal," she said.

Each of the Fiesta Mexicana Court members also attended the virtual city council meeting, to introduce themselves to city staff and representatives. She noted that Councilor Debbie Cabrales and Woodburn Economic Development Specialist Amanda Setzer were instrumental in helping interview court candidates.

"The Fiesta Court has been a part of La Fiesta Mexicana since its inception," Guerrero said. "Our court program focuses on leadership, civic engagement, volunteerism, mentoring, education and public speaking.

"Every year we get blown away with how much stuff these young ladies are doing; it's just amazing what they're involved in," she added.

Four of the five court members are recent Woodburn High School graduates. The fifth is a recent Silverton High School graduate.

"We are glad to see someone from outside of Woodburn also participating in this to show the regional pride we have in our Latinx culture," Swenson said.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WOODBURN - Aide Robles• Aide Robles, of Woodburn, plans to attend Chemeketa Community College in the fall and says she plans to transfer to either Linfield or Pacific University to study environmental studies/policies and Spanish after her two years at Chemeketa are finished.

"The reason I am getting involved is because I really enjoy volunteering and I want to interact more with the community," Robles said.

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WOODBURN - Brenda Martinez• Brenda Martinez of Woodburn plans to attend Western Oregon University in the fall and study political science.

"I joined the Fiesta Court this year because I really wanted to make the connection with the city for me to become the leader I want to be – a future representative or (civic leader)."

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WOODBURN - Eveline Morales•Eveline Morales of Silverton plans to attend Portland State University in the fall to study business and pre-law as a prerequisite for law school.

"The reason why I am involved in the Fiesta Mexicana court is because I love being avidly involved in my community, and I love the culture and community that is built through the Fiesta Mexicana. I'm just really excited to see how it happens this year."

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WOODBURN - Jael Garcia•Jael Garcia of Woodburn plans to attend George Fox in the fall to pursue a degree in social work.

"Some of the reasons why I joined the Fiesta Court are just the opportunities and the life experiences I get to keep after this. It will help me grow as a person as well as being a role model for all the kids in this community; (let them) know anything is possible and they can do anything they put their mind to."

COURTESY PHOTO: CITY OF WOODBURN - Jocelyn Mendez•Jocelyn Mendez of Woodburn will also attend Chemeketa then plans to transfer to Portland State to study pre-law.

"Kind of the reason I decided to be a part of the Fiesta Mexicana this year is because I am deeply involved with our community; I like to volunteer to donate my time so I can experience things with others. I mostly volunteer with (helping) little kids, but I want to grow and expand my leadership into being able to communicate with our community in a different way and learn more about what the Fiesta Mexicana is all about."

All five Fiesta Court members have been volunteering across Woodburn these past few weeks, including at Aware Food Bank and the Ray of Hope Thrift Store, which raises funds for Love INC.

The Fiesta coronation ceremony begins at 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 6, in the Woodburn Downtown Plaza and will be accompanied by music and food vendors.

The Fiesta Mexicana Parade will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 7, in downtown and will wind through Woodburn streets before winding up at Legion Park where festivities will continue.

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