WACO, TX (FOX 44) – Waco community leaders gathered today to celebrate the rich and proud culture of Hispanics in our area.

It was a part of a banquet put together by the Centex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce.

Its their first large gathering since the start of COVID-19 and event planners put a lot of work in for everyone to have fun.

Over 200 guests came to today’s banquet ready to celebrate Hispanic Heritage.

“I’m pretty excited to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month and everything that our culture brings to the community of Waco,” said Kimberly Chavez, banquet attendee.

Chavez has lived in Waco a majority of her life.

She says events like this are needed for more reasons than one.

“Anything that comes with celebrating cultures within the community is so important because it makes people feel inclusive, and it’s so important for the Latino community, especially here in Waco, to feel appreciated, love, acknowledged, heard, and seen,” said Chavez.

A silent auction was held at the banquet with proceeds going to the chamber to support future programming.

Awards were given to leaders in our community and a new one is being debuted.

“One of the founding fathers was Hispanic. Jacob de Cordova was his name and we are really excited just to get the word out about Jacob because it’s not really taught in schools,” said Andrea Kosar, president of the CenTex Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. “A lot of people in Waco have sort of taken it upon themselves and organizations to band together and get the word out.”

This year the Jacob de Cordova award went to Baylor head football coach Dave Aranda.

Kosar says this was her first year putting the banquet together.

When asked how it felt taking on this responsibility, she said proud.

“I represent South America and a different portion of the Hispanic culture. I’m Paraguayan and very, very proud of my culture, and so tonight we are celebrating,” said Kosar. “We had different flags from different countries and we are celebrating multiple countries. Tonight is a celebration of all Hispanic culture.”

Future events the chamber is working is the Dia de Los Muertos Parade at the end of October and a final celebration at the beginning of November.