Palo Alto students and community celebrate PACfest 2015

By Lauren Hardman
Pulse Staff Reporter

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Every spring, Palo Alto College’s community eagerly awaits the fun and excitement of PACfest, an official Fiesta event.

On April 23 from noon to 10 p.m., Palo Alto College and the surrounding community celebrated the sights, sounds, smells and tastes of San Antonio. For the first time, PACfest charged $5 for admission, but it was free for students, faculty and staff with an Alamo Colleges ID.

PACfest is a family-friendly event with games, entertainment, food and live music.

“It brings the community together,” said Juan Higa, vice president of the Student Government Association. “It’s part of Fiesta tradition.”

The contagious high energy and fun atmosphere is an integral part of Fiesta. San Antonio’s spirit of celebration transcends social barriers and day-to-day boredom and brings San Antonio’s community together to celebrate.

According to the PACfest overview page on alamo.edu, the festival has been an official Fiesta event since 2004, and turnout has continued to grow. This year there was an estimated 10,000 attendees throughout the day.

Every year, PACfest hosts live music. This year’s PACfest featured co-headlining bands Erick y Su Grupo MASSORE and Las Fenix, an all-female group.

“The groups that come in, they do encompass what Fiesta is, which is just a celebration, having a good time,” said Rodriguez. “It’s the music that gets a lot of people moving, so it is very much them that brings the crowd out.”

As all Fiesta events raise money for local causes and public services, PACfest raises funds for clubs, organizations and scholarships on campus.

“It’s basically like a fundraiser to raise money for the school. The king and queen raise money for each vote,” said Homecoming King Michael Maldanado. “The more votes you get, the more money you raise.”

Volunteers on campus sold food and drink from their booths to raise money for their clubs or organizations. The delicious food and drink at this year’s PACfest included sodas, lemonade, traditional Mexican fare, carnival foods and desserts.

This year also hosted newer additions to the PACfest celebration. The new Cosmetology program at Palo Alto College had a booth at the event, which provided Fiesta-themed beauty services.

Lisa Navarro, the new Cosmetology program leader, said “We are providing free nail designs and colored hair extensions to kind of get in the spirit of Fiesta, as well as face painting.”

This year’s event also featured the second annual Fiesta Grilldown, a carne asada cooking contest from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. PACfest added the grilldown as an exclusive event to be carried on as a tradition.

“One of the things they wanted to do was add a component to PACfest that was still unique. Because no other event has an asada grilldown, we’re unique in that regard,” said Arianna Lay, advising team leader at the SEED Advising Center.

In the spirit of celebration, this year’s festival had another new addition.

“This year, [we had] a fireworks display, which is the first time we’ve had that,” said Rodriguez.

The fireworks display, sponsored by Pizza Patron, commemorated Palo Alto College’s 30th anniversary and marked the closing of this annual event.