By Colleen Flaherty

Killeen Daily Herald

Full, colored skirts, paper flowers and the sounds of Spanish language karaoke filled the Senior Center at the Killeen Hill Country Community Action Association Wednesday during its early Mexican Independence Day celebration.

Seniors live for these kinds of events, director Sandra Mendoza said.

"We look forward to all these parties, even the birthday parties," she said, as the center's resident dance troop, Las Viejitas Mamacitas - or, roughly translated, The Sexy Little Old Ladies - danced in unison to the Mexican folk song "La Cucaracha" behind her.

The Sept. 16 celebration, not to be confused with Cinco de Mayo when Mexicans celebrate their victory over the French at the 1862 Battle of Puebla, commemorates Mexico's independence from Spain, achieved 200 years ago.

Five other Latin American nations celebrated their independence from colonial rule Wednesday, and two others will do so over the next several days. In recognition of these events and the contributions Latinos have made to society, the next month is known as Hispanic Heritage Month, which began Wednesday.

Center patron Juan Guevara was the event's emcee and disc jockey.

"I got a knee operation and I can't walk, but I'm still here," said Guevara, 70, who went above and beyond the call of duty to croon the classic "La Que Se Fue" for the crowd.

"It's a lot of fun," he said. "It makes you feel good to make other people feel good."

Volunteer dance instructor Lolly Brown said the seniors do more for her than she does for them.

"I come here once a week and they bless my socks off with the moves they try," she said.

Though 60 percent of the center's patron population is Hispanic, according to Mendoza, non-Hispanic audience members like Kyong C. Roberts, 67, also enjoyed the event.

"I'm Korean, but we love each other," Roberts said. "I love these people."

Contact Colleen Flaherty at or (254) 501-7559. Follow her on Twitter at KDHfeatures.

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