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College Marks Anniversary With Mexican Festival

TIMES STAFF WRITER

It was hot and sticky Saturday at the Cinco de Mayo celebration sponsored by the College of the Canyons in Santa Clarita, perfect weather for a nice cold drink.

But Jered Standing was having trouble with the soda his mother had just bought him.

“I don’t know if I can drink with this thing,” complained the 10-year-old boy, referring to the still-wet plaster-of-Paris Mexican mask that a folk artist had just created for him.

“Aaaah!” Standing said when artist Lonnie Miramontes gently pulled it off his face.

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All day long, children lined up to have their faces wrapped in gooey gauze.

And when the masks dried, they sat under a shade tree to paint them with brilliant colors.

Miramontes said he hoped to share a little of Mexican culture with the children.

In fact, that was one of the principal aims of the organizers of the Cinco de Mayo festival, which was held to celebrate the college’s 20th anniversary.

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“We’re really making an effort to bring these two cultures together,” said Sue Bozman, the college’s spokeswoman.

Another purpose was to encourage Latinos to become familiar with the college.

“What we’re really trying to do is outreach for the Mexican community,” Bozman said. “To let them know this is a place where they are welcome, where they can have fun and learn.”

Organizers estimated that 1,000 people would attend the daylong celebration that included plenty of music, salsa, folk dancing and dramatic skits.

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Among the guests were 200 migrant farm worker families.

It was clearly a day for children, who scampered from one event to another.

They made miniature pinatas out of paper bags and crepe paper, and shaped bowls and vases from big mounds of clay.

And once the full-size pinatas appeared, the children all seemed to gravitate toward the grassy clearing where the real action was.

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When a boy bashed the head off a blue Cookie Monster pinata, bedlam broke out as children scoured the grass for candy.

A new “musical sculpture,” made by the college’s welding students, was a big hit with the kids.

When a child hit the large metal sculpture with a rod, it sounded like the tinkling chimes in a bell tower.

Some adults preferred to escape the heat by slipping into an air-conditioned building to look at an exhibit of 40 paintings by Mexican artists, sponsored by the Mexican government.

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Still others crowded around the messy soda booth where frantic volunteers were unable to keep up with the demand.

But Angee Harrold, 21, another college student, said, “It’s so hot out here I can’t stand it.”

* OTHER CELEBRATIONS: B22


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