Our Lady of Guadalupe Marchers in Downtown Fresno

December 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PST
Nearly 3,000 Mexican Catholics met in downtown Fresno for one of the largest religious parades of the year. It started at St. John's Catholic Church on R Street, traveled west towards the Fresno County Plaza and then south on M until it ended at the convention center.The image of Our Lady of Guadalupe is an icon in the Mexican Catholic faith dating back to the 16th century. That's when Catholics believe an image of the Virgin Mary miraculously appeared on a cloak. It's also found on flags, banners and shirts today.

The first Sunday of every December, Valley residents from Bakersfield to Merced gather in downtown Fresno to honor her.

Diana Velasquez of Fresno said: "Very important to show my kids, my family our faith. This is what we believe in."

Socorro Guarnizo of Bakersfield said: "It's my roots, it's my faith."

Luis Magos said: "We're united as Mexican people."

"It's a great day for everybody to express our devotion and acknowledge the great contribution they give to our society," said Bishop John Steinbock.

Every year Steinbock blesses each association's float. But this year parade director Luis Magos has noticed a change.

Magos: "It's getting to be smaller and smaller because the older people are passing away."

Every year thousands of Mexican Catholics come to Fresno for this parade. However, organizers say the biggest challenge they have is getting the younger generation involved.

Parade queen Veronica Gonzalez of Laton said she's trying to get more friends to continue this tradition with her. "I was like, 'Hmm, I wonder if I can get people into it.' And I just did and more people started to come. Like I would invite [them], 'Come on, let's go,'" she said.

Gonzalez's friends and others got quite a show. 3,000 worshippers packed the convention center to witness the retelling of how Lady Guadalupe appeared on a cloak and later to a saint near Mexico City.

Diana Velasquez hopes being here inspires her 2 sons and younger daughter to come back year after year. "All the dancers, all the culture, our faith, all together in all this?they're learning."


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