Beer, food and live mariachi music accompanied sweltering heat Saturday as the UA marked the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month with a pre-football game party on the UA Mall.
The event, which began at 2 p.m. and ended at about 6:30 p.m., was organized by UA Hispanic Alumni Club and UA Athletics to bring the entire Tucson community together, and to celebrate Hispanic culture, said Albert Siqueiros, co-chair along with Rosie García of the UA Hispanic Alumni Club. The UAHA collaborated with the Chicano/Hispano Student Affairs Office to organize the event.
This is the sixth year UAHA has held the event, Siqueiros said, and this year saw a turnout similar to last year's.
The event has three main goals, he said. They are to give students an opportunity to network with graduates and other students, to promote the Hispanic-oriented support organizations available to students and to bring attention to the Hispanic community.
Sept. 15 marks the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month and is also the day five Latin American countries, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua, celebrate their independence. Mexico's independence day is Sept. 16. and Chile's is Sept. 18.
Local restaurant El Saguarito provided Mexican food at a discounted rate and Golden Eagle Distributors donated the beer and soda. Cox Communications was the principal cash donor.
Live mariachi music was provided by the UA and Tucson-area high schools, including Pueblo, Salpointe and Tucson High School.
Of 300 tickets available for the event, 196 were sold, said Charlie Andrade, the event's treasurer. People who helped organize the event got in for free, he said.
The event in many ways mirrored last year's, Andrade said. About the same number of people attended, and the event netted about the same amount of money: around $300, he said.
""The goal is not to make a profit,"" Andrade said. ""The goal is to break even.""
This year's profits will be used to help fund next year's tailgate party.
Jonathan García, a criminal justice and pre-law junior, said he was grateful for the support of organizations like UAHA, which has provided him with a scholarship that pays for his college tuition. García has also attended UAHA workshops designed to improve students' study habits.
While Hispanic Heritage Month is Sept. 15 through Oct. 15, Siqueiros emphasized the everyday importance of culture to Hispanics.
""For us,"" he said, ""Hispanic heritage is all year long.""