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Published: Sunday, 9/21/2003

Parade begins tributes to Hispanic heritage

Participants in the Hispanic Heritage Month parade in South Toledo prepare to toss candy from a pickup. Participants in the Hispanic Heritage Month parade in South Toledo prepare to toss candy from a pickup.

Valentino Pino has lived in Toledo for 27 years - many of those in the south end. But he has always remembered his South American roots.

“The Mexican revolution was one of the greatest achievements in history,” said Mr. Pino, who is from Chile. “I'm here to celebrate that achievement and all of Hispanic heritage.”

Mr. Pino was among dozens of people yesterday watching a motorcade of 26 cars and flag-waving marchers in the Hispanic Heritage Month parade in South Toledo.

The parade, sponsored by Adelante, Inc., a social service center that serves Hispanics, was one of the kickoff events for Hispanic Heritage Month. It runs from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and was first celebrated nationally as Hispanic Heritage Week in 1974 and expanded in 1988.

The parade coincides with Mexico's Independence Day, which is Sept. 16, said Adelante leader Karen Weber.

“We wanted it to be as close as possible to the 16th,” Ms. Weber said. “And every year that we hold this parade, the interest will grow.” Attendance suffered last year because it was held on a Monday, she said.

People along the 11/2-mile parade route stepped outside their homes and businesses to cheer parade participants.

“There is not enough celebration of the Hispanic community here,” said Maria Martinez, who moved here from Mexico about 10 years ago. “That's why I think more and more, this will become the biggest parade in the city over the next few years.”

Twenty-nine groups participated, including the Toledo Jeep Hispanic Association, Waite High School Spanish Club, and the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.

Francisco Aguilar, president of the University of Toledo Latino Student Union, said he was overjoyed about how much Hispanic pride he saw from people along the parade route.

“We recognize that the majority of the Latino community here are Mexican, but this is a very diverse parade,” Mr. Aguilar said.

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