When Alexandria Arriazaleal, 18, visited Mexico for the first time, she was overjoyed by the welcoming embrace she received from family members she’d never met.

“Where you came from is something you should be really, really proud of,” said Arriazaleal, who is half-Mexican and half-Guatemalan. “(Five years ago in Mexico), I met a lot of family. It was a lot of fun. They’re really into being Hispanic.”

Arriazaleal celebrated her heritage with her family during the League of United Latin American Citizens 4535’s seventh annual Cinco de Mayo festival Saturday at the Killeen Community Center.

“We’re very family-oriented and just like being together all the time and having parties,” she said.

Raul Villaronga, LULAC president, said the Hispanic civil rights organization wanted to put on a cultural event for the community.

“A lot of people like the excitement of a festival,” he said.

Despite having a smaller turnout than expected, more than 1,500 people came throughout the day to visit the booths of about 20 vendors and watch various cultural performances.

“I hope (people who came to the festival) have a better understanding of Hispanic culture,” he said.

Anna Aguilar, a first-generation American whose parents are from Mexico, drove from Temple to watch mariachi bands perform.

“The music is awesome. Everything is just perfect. (Cinco de Mayo) is something very special to Hispanics,” she said. “We love culture. We love food and to have a wonderful time.”

Contact Sarah Rafique at srafique@kdhnews.com or (254) 501-7549. Follow her on Twitter at KDHreporter.

I'm the education reporter at the Killeen Daily Herald. Follow me on Twitter at https://twitter.com/SarahRafique

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