Fiesta Mexicana kicks off with downtown parade

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) The 86th Fiesta Mexicana kicked off Saturday morning with a parade through downtown Topeka.

Our Lady of Guadalupe's Fiesta Mexicana dates back to 1933, and is a valuable tradition to the Mexican community in Topeka.

The Fiesta is one of the oldest community Hispanic celebrations in the United States.

Jay Parker is a minister in Topeka, and said he's been coming for the last 56 years.

Melissa Cooper is a member of Our Lady of Guadalupe church, and said she has been apart of the events since she was a little girl.

The Fiesta Mexicana parade made its way through downtown Saturday, as crowds of people watched.

Every year, the Fiesta Queen is one of the first floats you see coming down Kansas Avenue.

Cooper said she always wanted to be fiesta queen, and in 2005 she made that dream a reality, and inspired the next generation.

She said, "I had just graduated high school when I ran and was queen. All my little cousins and everybody, really looked up to me."

Over the years the Fiesta has grown. The first year it lasted just one day, and now it lasts five days.

Cooper said, "It's huge now, there's so many more people coming out to see it as well, and it's just awesome how big it's gotten."

Parker brought his family out to Saturday's parade, because he thinks its important to share cultural experiences with his grandson. He said, "We want him to be able to not see color, but see everybody as one."

As the Fiesta Mexicana celebrations continue, there's plenty of fun for everyone in the community to dive into.

The Fiesta runs July, 16-20 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church. Tuesday through Thursday it goes from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 4 p.m. to midnight.

Activities include: Face painting, Moon Walk, crafts, games, balloon animals, an art show starting at 4:30 p.m. each day, and carnival rides beginning around 6 p.m.

There is also a golf tournament on July 19th at Western Hills Golf Course.

Cooper said, "Just come and enjoy the atmosphere, the music, the food, and everything."