In Denver, Mexicans will celebrate their independence with a 5k and a Sunday festival

Dancers perform in 2011 during the annual Fiestas Patrias celebration at Civic Center to commemorate Mexico’s independencefrom Spain. The one-day festival featured food and performances.

On Sunday — as they do every year in the second weekend of September — thousands of Coloradans will flock to Civic Center park to celebrate Mexican Independence Day with food, music and celebratory rituals. This truly is the year’s last big shindig of at the park.

In its 18th year the festival, Fiestas Patrias, hosted by Univision Colorado, La Tricolor 96.5 FM and nonprofit Mi Casa will present 14 live bands including international headliners from Mexico such as Pancho Barraza, Banda Carnaval and Huracanes Del Norte.

Event Coordinator Luis Lerma said no Mexican celebration is complete without good food. The park will be packed full of vendors selling traditional Mexican eats alongside wares from local businesses.

Mi Casa will also be administering free flu shots to anyone interested.

The event will be held from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. At 4 p.m., the Consul General of Mexico in Denver, Berenice Rendón Talavera, will be officiating the El Grito Ceremony which marks the 207th anniversary of Mexican Independence.

In the U.S., Cinco De Mayo is sometimes mistaken for Mexican Independence Day. However, while the fifth of May is observed to commemorate the Mexican Army’s unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862, that is not the day that Mexicans celebrate their independence from Spain.

The independence movement began to take shape when Jose Bernardo Gutierrez de Lara went to the small town of Dolores in the state of Guanajuato. He asked the local Roman Catholic priest Miguel Hidalgo y Castillo to help initiate an effort to free Mexicans from Spanish control. On Sept. 16, 1810, the priest rang his church bell as a call to arms, which triggered the Mexican War of Independence. This call is known as El Grito de Dolores, The Cry of Dolores.

Every year on the eve of Independence Day, the President of Mexico re-enacts the Grito from the balcony of the National Palace in Mexico City, while ringing the same bell that Hidalgo rang in 1810.

Earlier Sunday morning, the Colorado Running Club hosts the El Grito 5K, which starts with the ringing of the bell to represent freedom and liberty. The race, founded in 1994 by a group of local runners, is a community focused family event celebrating culture and fun through running. The race will go from 7 a.m. to noon.

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