The City of Nogales has changed the date of its Fiestas Patrias celebration of Mexican independence from Sept. 11 to Sept. 18 so as not to coincide with the anniversary of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, Mayor Arturo Garino said.
The mayor and council voted on July 7 to classify Fiestas Patrias as a “Category A” event, which allows organizers to access more funding and resources from the city. The meeting agenda item listed Sept. 11, 2021 as the date of the event, but nobody on the council raised an objection at the time.
When the NI asked Councilman Saulo Bonilla, who is organizing the event along with Councilwoman Esther Melendez-Lopez, about holding the fiesta on the date of the 9/11 attacks, Bonilla said some people had told him they were concerned about it. But he said the date was chosen because it falls on a Saturday, and promised the event would include a moment of silence to honor the victims of the attacks.
Garino told the NI on Friday that he had met with Bonilla and Melendez-Lopez since then and told them to change the date.
“I told them that it was a mistake to put the Fiestas on the 11th. I said that’s something we should never do,” he said.
Garino said that on the morning of Saturday, Sept. 11, the city will hold a 9/11 remembrance ceremony at Jesus Cordova Park in front of City Hall, and they plan to invite first responders as well as frontline workers who stepped up during the COVID-19 pandemic. There will also be a remembrance Mass at 6 p.m. that evening at San Felipe Parish Church, he said.
Garino said the Fiestas Patrias will be held on Saturday, Sept. 18 at the same location as originally planned – Ron Turley Park on Hohokam Drive. But he wasn’t sure if the same entertainment that had been booked for Sept. 11 would still participate on Sept. 18.
“They’re going to be working with the consulate and they’re going to be working with Imfoculta from across the line to bring dancers,” he said. Imfoculta is a cultural center in Nogales, Sonora.
Independence Day is celebrated in Mexico on Sept. 15 and 16, which fall on Wednesday and Thursday this year, and the organizers said they didn’t want to hold the Fiestas on a weekday. It wasn't clear why they didn't initially plan it for Saturday the 18th instead of the 11th.
In 2010, the city and its partners initially scheduled its Fiestas Patrias celebration for Sept. 11, but quickly backtracked and moved the event to Sept. 12.