By Kevin M. Smith

Killeen Daily Herald

The cry. That's the translation for "El Grito," which many will be crying out today at Diez y Seis de Septiembre (Sept. 16) activities.

Although today is Sept. 15, local organizations have planned activities celebrating the Mexican independence of 1810.

Starting at 10 a.m., League of United Latin American Citizens Council 4535 in Killeen will kick off its celebration with a car and motorcycle show, food and crafts vendors and music groups.

Car and bike show entries should be at the Killeen Community Center, 2201 E. Veterans Memorial Blvd., at 9 a.m. Registration is $20 per vehicle, and prizes will be awarded for seven categories. The car show ends at about 3 p.m.

Vendors will sell food and crafts at the Community Center from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Local music and performance groups will take the stage from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at the amphitheater behind the Community Center.

"You name it," Raul Villaronga, president of LULAC, said about the performers and vendors at the event Saturday. "It's Killeen on display."

Performances by local entertainers will end at 6 p.m. to make way for regional professional groups. The Tejano band Grupo Vidal, of Kingsville, will perform at 6 p.m., followed by Puerto Rican folklore dancers from 8 to 9 p.m.

A mariachi band will play from 9 to 11 p.m. Immediately following the mariachi band will be an "El Grito" shouting contest.

"It's part of the tradition," Villaronga said.

Because Mexico does not change its clocks for daylight savings time as Texas does, at 11 p.m. in Killeen it will be midnight in Mexico – marking the beginning of the 16th of September.

"El Grito" dates back to Sept. 15, 1810, in Mexico when the Rev. Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, a village priest, rallied peasants to call for independence from Spain, according to

On Sept. 16, 1810, Mexicans began the fight to defend their freedom, the Web site states. Sept. 16 marks the Fiestas Patrias (patriotic festival).

Also celebrating the Mexican holiday will be the Multi-Ethnic Cultural and Arts Association of Killeen. MECA will have a festival beginning at 7:30 p.m. today at Java Jo'z, 4008 E. Stan Schlueter Loop. The celebration will include latin karaoke at 7:30 p.m., mariachi music at 8 p.m. and Mexican folkloric dancing at 8:15 p.m.

The event will be outside and MECA Director Daniel Kott said people should bring lawn chairs.

Villaronga also suggested bringing lawn chairs or blankets to the events at the Community Center because the entertainment is outside.

Today also is the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month, which is Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. Killeen Mayor Timothy Hancock read a proclamation at Tuesday's City Council meeting recognizing the heritage month.

"This month, we remember with special gratitude the gifts that Hispanic Americans bring to every aspect of our national life," Hancock read.

Five Latin American countries celebrate independence day today: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, according to Mexico declared its independence on Sept. 16 and Chile on Sept. 18, the Web site states.

The Cinco de Mayo (5th of May) Mexican holiday is not the independence day for the country; rather, it commemorates the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862, according to

"They're both important TexMex holidays," Kotts said.

Contact Kevin M. Smith at or call (254) 501-7550

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