TOPEKA, Kansas (WIBW) -- Events for the 80th annual Fiesta Mexicana are officialy underway. People packed the streets Saturday morning for the Fiesta parade.
Over the years Topeka has gathered to support of one its longest cultural traditions. It's the Fiesta Mexicana to benefit Our Lady of Guadalupe parish, and the downtown parade is one of the first events to kick off the festivities.
Lalo Munoz participated in the parade with El Centro of Topeka. "This parade is great because it brings families from across Topeka together at an annual event and a great time."
Rows of people line the streets each year, and for good reason. Mexican music is blaring and floats drive by, many decorated in traditional Mexican themes, handing out canding and waving to the crowd.
The Fiesta started out in 1933 as a way for Topeka's Mexican community to build a church. Now, 80 years later, it has reached outside of just the Mexican neighborhood into a five-day celebration, including a parade, 5K run and a long line-up of events.
Margaret Serrano Cortez was the Fiesta Queen in 1953 and has passed the tradition down to three of her daughters.
"I was born and raised here in Topeka, I was baptized in Our Lady of Guadalupe, I was married in Our Lady of Guadalupe, I might just die and be buried in Our Lady of Guadalupe," Margaret said. "That's our church, that's the reason why we do it, for our church and our school."
The parade builds ties between the parish, local businesses and the community.
"It's a great way for individuals to see just how many Latino businesses there are and how much of an impact Latinos have in Topeka. It's a great way to highlight our heritage," Munoz said.
The Fiesta Mexicana kicks off Tuesday, July 9 and runs until Saturday, July 13, with the closing mass on Sunday, July 14.
The full schedule and details are at www.olg-parish.org/fiesta.