Merced County Times Newspaper
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A fiesta breaks out for Planada Community Day


A colorful fiesta danced down Sutter Street in Planada last Saturday as part of the town’s annual Community Day Celebration.

Spanish music blasted as the parade made its way toward Houlihan Park where over 40 vendors and a park full of onlookers awaited the celebration.

The small town, just east of Merced, has been celebrating the beauty of its strong Hispanic heritage for as long as the Grand Marshal of the parade, Marcelino Barajas, can remember.

Barajas rode along on the back of a red low-rider truck with his nieces and nephews by his side.

“It makes me happy sharing our culture with everyone, and seeing the love the people give me, and being able to give that love back to them,” Barajas shared in Spanish, with his daughter translating at the side.

It is well known in Planada that Barajas makes the best carnitas in town, or as Representative Jim Costa mentioned, “in all of California.”

A native of Mexico, Barajas has lived in Planada for over 40 years and has his own restaurant in town, Carnitas Barajas. As a well-respected member of the community, he credits his business for influencing him to become more involved in the daily lives of his people.

“People come from everywhere, and seeing people come in and out of my business is what made me want to help inside and outside of our community.” Barajas continued.

Barajas was recognized for his work in the community by Merced County Supervisor Rodrigo Espinoza, Assemblyman Adam Gray, and State Senator Anna Caballero and U.S. Congressman Jim Costa — all of whom rode in the parade and took part in the celebration.

Mexican tradition from all around could be seen as the festival continued with vendors selling “raspados,” and traditional dances. Young girls danced and twirled in their folkloric dresses, making a rainbow of color as they awed onlookers. A decoration of “papel picado” carried by Mexican dancers swayed in the air, showcasing prideful colors of bright yellow, orange, green, pink, and white. Planada was in for a treat as dancers from Madera performed the traditional Oaxacan dance, Danza de los Diablitos, in which participants wear deviled masks and crack a whip as they move their feet to the music.

The festival included free face-painting for kids, free haircuts done by the Milan Institute, a car show, DJ, traditional performances, and traditional snacks for everyone to enjoy.

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