Honoring National Hispanic Heritage Month locally

Robin Bradshaw
The Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church & Plaza in Benavides

National Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates the history, culture and contributions Hispanic Americans made to the culture and dynamics of the country to what it is today.

For the residents in Jim Wells and Duval County celebrating National Hispanic Heritage month is more a day in the life then just a month in mid-September. The regions of south Texas embodies all things Hispanic and that culture is as natural as breathing in the Texas warm air.

In Alice, people enjoy warm pan dulce in the mornings at Nortex's Bakery. The bakery specializes in sweet hand made pastries done the old fashioned way by a Mexico native baker or picking up some smoked mollejas tacos from the J&S Pit Stop in San Diego.

There are multiple Mexican restaurants with traditional dishes like caldo, muendo and handmade tortillas. The culinary cuisine, big family affairs, faithful religious traditions, big open spaces and Tejano music roots all the traditions of Hispanic culture that are still ingrained in the communities every day life.

A local gem of rich history in the area is the Duval County Museum and Historical Commission (DCMH). This museum has artifacts and stories of the Spanish and Mexican Land Grants and a variety of exhibits sharing the history of the land. During normal business hours, they host events and exhibits that connect historians or curious minds minds to the many stories of Duval County's heritage and history. The museum is currently modifying hours of operation while navigating public health concerns regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

The DCMH Chairman Graciela T. Gonzales and local historian is an expert at Duval County’s history and designs the exhibits in the museum.

"The DCMH is working on featuring artifacts and the history of Duval County as an online exhibit in the future.“ said Gonzales. ”One special landmark I would suggest readers visit is the Padre Pedro Plaza in San Diego, and Santa Rosa de Lima Catholic Church and Plaza in Benavides the Plazas and their activities reflect the influence of Spanish and Mexican customs in honor of National Hispanic Heritage month.“

The week was first recognized nationally in 1968 by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and later to a month celebration during the Ronald Reagan’s presidency.

Officially, Hispanic Heritage Month begins on Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 and encompasses the independence anniversaries of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Mexico.