Día de los Niños event brings nostalgia, fun to students

Arlinne Montemayor, General Life&Arts Reporter

Excited cheers and Latin music filled the Main Mall as the Chavo del Ocho piñata hit the grass. Alina Almaraz gazed gleefully at the crowd of smiling faces, admiring the payoff of her hard work. 

A piñata breaking and a forest green bouncy castle were part of the Día de los Niños event organized by the Mexican American Culture Committee. A variety of Latin American countries celebrate the holiday, which acknowledges and commemorates children. Kayla Moncada, a member of MACC, said the group is in the process of changing its name to the Latin American Culture Committee to be more inclusive of all Latin American cultures. 

Though Almaraz, an applied movement science freshman, just joined MACC this semester, she eagerly signed up to be an event coordinator for Día de los Niños. 

“My favorite part (of organizing) was trying to think back (to) …  how I grew up in the household that I have, in the culture that I’m (a part of), and thinking of all the nostalgic pieces that I really miss and that I feel other people might connect to,” Almaraz said.

A variety of childhood games like Lotería and Jenga brought back sweet memories for Ellie Garcia, a radio-television-film freshman who attended the event. She said the celebration helped her feel connected to her home in Brownsville, Texas after going away to school. 

“Now I go into (Día de los Niños) with a big appreciation because it is a part of my culture,” Garcia said. “Especially being so far away from home, it’s nice to reconnect with that, especially here in my college.” 

The warm embrace of nostalgia lingered in Moncada’s mind as she worked alongside Almaraz to plan the event, where the radio-television-film sophomore brought the Chavo del Ocho piñata straight from Mexico. 

“I immediately started making a playlist and I was choosing songs that I remember from my childhood, and I would ask other people for suggestions,” Moncada said. “I specifically wanted Latino-type songs to show our culture. I knew that once we had the music playing, it was going to set the mood for the whole event.” 

Paulina Nájera, a supply chain management senior and president of the Latino Pan-Hellenic Council, volunteered at a booth along with other LPHC members at the event to help other people in their community. 

“I didn’t celebrate (Día de los Niños) here, but my mom used to celebrate it whenever she was younger,” Nájera said. “She would tell me that (the adults) would always give them little candy bags on that day, or just something to show a token of appreciation.” 

Candy bags, elote and fresh fruit allowed students to destress and connect with their inner child. Dantes Martinez, a linguistics and anthropology freshman, said he didn’t plan to go to the event, but was drawn in by the bouncy castle. 

“(Events like these are) a good way to uplift the spirit a bit,” Martinez said. “If you’re having a busy day studying, … it’s a fun break and escape from everything else for a bit.” 

MACC will continue to host a variety of events, all focused on bringing Latin American culture to campus. 

“Our main goal is to provide a sense of community and a sense of belonging for Latinos by putting on the events,” Moncada said. “It’s an opportunity to … have other people experience a part of our culture.”