The City’s annual multicultural festival celebrated several milestones: Perris’ diverse population, the “Day of the Charro” and the 30th anniversary of TODEC, the community group that helps immigrants through language, job-training and educational programs.
Sunday’s event at the City Hall Campus drew more than 2,000 people, including local, regional, state and national elected representatives who came to enjoy the open-air religious service, singing, dancing and ethnic foods. A workshop took place in the Bob Glass Gym, where Perris Police Chief Mike Judge answered questions about the recently passed law allowing drivers licenses for undocumented immigrants.
Perris Mayor Daryl Busch led the City’s contingent, which also included City Council members Al Landers, Julio Rodriguez and Mark Yarbrough. They were joined by Riverside County Supervisor Marion Ashley, Assemblyman Jose Medina, State Sen. Richard Roth and U.S. Rep. Mark Takano.
Riverside County Sheriff Stan Sniff and Consul Carolina Zaragoza, of the Mexican Consulate in San Bernardino ,also attended as did representatives of Perris’ sister city of Cotija, in the Mexican state of Michoacan.
Zaragoza praised Perris officials for supporting programs that bring community benefits. Every time she visits Perris, she is impressed with the progress the City is making on improving its infrastructure and programs. She said she planned to visit the City’s new Mercado Park and its under-construction Verano Apartments on D Street, which provide housing and recreational services to disadvantaged residents.
“Perris is a smart City,” she said. “The Mayor and City Council do not have offices or staff for themselves. Instead of spending money on themselves, this City spends its resources on its constituents. I congratulate them.”
Busch said the City is pleased to host the annual multi-cultural festival.
“We welcome you to this day, it is a great day and we want you all to have a great time,” Busch said.
Perris City Councilman Al Landers attended the outdoor Mass along with hundreds of others at Foss Field Park. The service also featured about 30-colorfully dressed “charros” (Mexican cowboys) who brought their horses forward to receive a blessing from the priest. Landers said the City’s multicultural festival proves that Perris is a place that welcomes people of every ethnicity.
“This event just reinforces what a diverse community we have,” Landers said. “I’m happy and pleased to be here.”
Landers noted that the multicultural festival is one of several major events taking place in Perris in the next few weeks. Others include the fourth annual Tour De Perris bicycle rides and 5-K Power Walk on Oct. 4, the ground-breaking of a new soccer complex Oct. 18, a hike around the Lake Perris State Recreation Area Oct. 25 and a series of winter workouts at parks throughout Perris beginning Oct. 11.
“We have some many activities for our residents,” he said. “We continue to move the City forward. That’s what we are elected to do.”
Yarbrough said the multicultural festival is an event he looks forward to each year. He was pleased to see young people on horseback and those practicing rope tricks are continuing the legacy and heritage of the charro.
“This is about showcasing our cultural diversity,” Yarbrough said. “Our City Council is dedicated to bringing events to Perris that people want. You could not ask for a better venue with better weather for this great event.”
Supervisor Ashley praised the work of TODEC founders Luz Maria Ayala and her husband, Tony. The organization, which stands for Training Occupational Development Educating Communities, helps immigrants acclimate to the U.S. through citizenship, English-language and job-skills classes.
“TODEC has been a positive force in this community,” Ashley said. “Their efforts have succeeded in preparing people to become contributors to our society. The City of Perris has put on another great event. They show people they care.”
TODEC honored Marlene Quinto, an immigrant who arrived in the U.S. at the age of 6, for her hard work and determination to succeed in America. Soon after arriving, Quinto and her parents lived in a park in Los Angeles until the adults got jobs and permanent housing. She learned English and eventually became a radio host at Quebuena radio in Los Angeles. In remarks to the crowd, Quinto urged young immigrants to “teach your brothers and sister to love this country, because it’s a great country.”
“You’ve got to go to school, you’ve got to learn to read, you’ve got to get educated,” she said. “We’ve got to show everyone here that we are here to work and want to become good citizens.”
Perris representatives joined other dignitaries for a lunch at the Cesar E. Chavez Library across the street from City Hall. Mayor Busch and Consul Zaragoza presented several young women—who represented the various states of Mexico—with certificates of recognition.