In the small town of Tolleson, apartment residents each year celebrate their faith and the town's Catholic heritage with the annual Fiesta de Amistad.
The event, which draws a number of the city's prominent Hispanic apartment residents, began in 1949. When the Blessed Sacrament Church was built in Tolleson that year by the Catholic Club, they started the annual fiesta to celebrate the Virgin Mary. A number of other similar Fiesta de Amistad events are held throughout the country, but Tolleson's is the largest of its kind in the Southwest Valley, according to city officials.
Each year, the event itself is kicked off by a parade down Van Buren Street. Paraders hand out candy, rosaries and prayer guides to the Tolleson apartment renters that line the half-mile parade route, while parishioners carry a statue of the Virgin Mary and a 25-foot rosary. Prizes and trophies are also available to apartment residents who enter the parade.
In addition to the parade, the weekend-long Fiesta de Amistad includes live music, food and dancing. Tolleson apartment residents say the entertainment is designed to help keep the Mexican cultural traditions alive, and put younger residents in touch with their rich heritage.
Past Fiesta de Amistad celebrations have also included a softball tournament, cash prize raffles and a celebratory meal at one local resident's home.
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