Cinco de Mayo’s 10th anniversary draws opera, bolero singer

MARYSVILLE — The 10th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo celebrations at Totem Middle School May 6 saw the local debut of opera and bolero singer Jose Iniguez.

Latino tenor Jose Iniguez sang Italian opera arias and Mexican mariachi boleros at Totem Middle School May 6.

MARYSVILLE — The 10th anniversary of Cinco de Mayo celebrations at Totem Middle School May 6 saw the local debut of opera and bolero singer Jose Iniguez.

The Latino tenor grew up in Eastern Washington and has performed throughout the state, but like the Herencias Mexicanas dancers, he performed in the school cafeteria for free.

Iniguez has come a long way since his childhood as a migrant farmer, sharing a small trailer with 11 siblings, but thanks to his family’s support, he’s been able to make it his mission to bridge cultural gaps by combining Italian opera arias and Mexican mariachi boleros in his concerts.

“When I was in grade school, I was put in special education classes, not due to my intelligence, but because I spoke English with a heavy accent,” Iniguez said. “I remember feeling alone and thinking I wasn’t smart, while other kids laughed at me.”

As part of his commitment to “giving back” and offering hope to the next generations of Hispanics through his music, Iniguez came into contact with Wendy Messarina, parent/community liaison for the Marysville School District, who told him about the middle school and its annual celebration.

“Totem Middle School is a special place that does amazing things for its kids,” Iniguez said. “I loved seeing the mix of races and disabled, just enjoying being free from judgement and indifference and free to imagine. It just called to me to support them with my voice, especially since two of my siblings are teachers themselves.”

Cinco de Mayo committee chairwoman Marjorie Serge explained that the celebration began at the school 10 years ago, when a Latina eighth-grader expressed her concerns about the exclusion that she and other Hispanics felt from the rest of the community.

When Serge and another teacher brainstormed solutions, they concluded the most effective ways to explore other cultures is through music and food.

The event has since expanded in scope ever since, drawing more than 500 attendees this year with recurring features including piñata-smashing, authentic Mexican cuisine prepared by culinary arts classes at the School House Cafe, under the direction of Chef Jeff Delma, and a bike-powered blender making non-alcoholic margaritas, courtesy of Molina Healthcare.

Kathy Smargiassi even brought books from the Marysville Library on Mexican lucha libre wrestling, and helped kids make their own luchador masks with markers and paper plates.

“It’s so important, as we become more diverse as a community, that we be proactive in educating ourselves about other cultures, and that we practice tolerance, acceptance and inclusion, while having a really good time doing it,” Serge said.

As a young man, Iniguez often felt like he’d fallen into the chasm of the cultural gap, so he appreciates seeing families from different cultures coming together.

“Other Hispanics wouldn’t talk to me because I spoke English, and my Anglo friends wouldn’t let me go into their homes because I was Mexican,” Iniguez said. “That’s why these community events are so important for kids and adults alike. They get to be around each other, eat the same food, hear the same music, and see that we have more in common than our differences.”

He added: “I also think we shouldn’t wait for days like Cinco de Mayo for community events. We should have them every weekend.”

More in Life

Children have fun at annual Port Susan Days

TULALIP – Campers at the Port Susan Camping Club participated in their… Continue reading

Well done: Marysville BBQ spot best in state (slide show)

MARYSVILLE – The NFL season is upon us, and that means Jeff… Continue reading

‘Live, Love, Now’ at Reset Church in Marysville

By Jeff Hastings Reset Church was formed as Turning Point World Outreach… Continue reading

It was a hot August Night Out Against Crime in Marysville

MARYSVILLE – A hot August night must have kept some folks away… Continue reading

Springfield brings nostalgia to Stilly River Festival stage (slide show)

ARLINGTON – Legendary rock star Rick Springfield delighted fans with the classic… Continue reading

Rain, lightning in forecast leads to cancellation of Popcorn in the Park Star Wars movie Saturday

MARYSVILLE – Saturday night’s Popcorn in the Park movie event has been… Continue reading

Lakewood schools hire 6 new leaders

LAKEWOOD – The school district recently hired six new administrators. Jeanette Grisham… Continue reading

Arlington returns with Music on the Terraces free summer concerts

ARLINGTON – Arlington kicked off the 2018 Music on the Terraces Aug.… Continue reading

Arlington Briefs (Aug. 4)

Drug bust ARLINGTON – Arlington police graveyard crew recently contacted some people… Continue reading

Rocketry Camp lets Arlington middle schoolers reach for the stars

ARLINGTON- Dozens of Arlington middle school students spent this week learning about… Continue reading

Cup of coffee with a cop

MARYSVILLE – A few dozen people attended the first Coffee with a… Continue reading