2nd Annual Mexican Flag Raising in Clifton


photo credit: Alias Ragsdale

Trumpets, guitars, drums, and traditional colorful patterns of Mexico, the lawn at City Hall Saturday morning. The Mexican community in Clifton celebrated its independence with the second annual flag-raising. The program's host, Richie Mejia, led the program as various bands and special guests made presentations.

Mejia, decked out in a traditional Mexican jacket, began the program by talking about how monumental this celebration was to him and fellow Mexicans in Clifton. Davina Rodriguez sang the United States national anthem, accompanied by John Rivas on trumpet. The special guest of the event, Leslie Tapia, gracefully addressed the crowd while her tiara sparkled when meeting the sun. Tapia was the last officially crowned Reina of patriotic festivities for the year 2022 by O.M.A.U. (Organization of Mexican Americans United).

Many dignitaries were in attendance. Following Mayor Ray Grabowski’s welcoming message, the following individuals spoke to the crowd: Councilwoman Rosemary Pino, County Commissioner Orlando Cruz, and County Clerk Danielle Ireland-Imhof who went on to explain the symbolism within Mexico’s flag. Board of Education candidates Joe Siano and Cameron Hebron, who have become regulars at flag raisings, were present and were joined by BOE commissioners Jim Smith, Judy Bassford, Alan Paris, and Fahim Abedrabbo. Clifton City Manager Nick Villano, Palestinian American Community Center board president Diab Mustafa, Mayor emeritus James Anzaldi representing Congressman Bill Pascrell, and George Silva who serves as the community liaison on behalf of Assemblyman Thomas Giblin all were present Saturday morning.

As Mejia and special guests gathered around the flag and raised it, a band played the Mexican national anthem. Three bands provided entertainment for the event- Orquestra Zacatepec, Banda Imperial de Huajuapan, and Mariachi Sones de mi Tierra. The flag’s green, white, and red stripes boldly wave on the front lawn now. The green represents hope and victory, the white represents unity and purity, while the red represents the bloodshed of Mexico’s heroes. In the center is a powerful golden eagle eating a snake, an important symbol of Mexican politics and culture.

When speaking with Mejia, he reminisced on his childhood. He remembers always attending Passaic’s Mexican Independence Day event and asking his parents if Clifton is having one, too. Of course, he was met with a no. Mejia is proud to have hosted the first Mexican flag-raising last year and plans on continuing to do so.

Clifton’s next and final flag raising for the year will take place on October 8 when the Italian flag will be raised.

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