PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD) — Viva Mexico or Long Live Mexico was shouted Friday evening as hundreds showed up to Morton Square Park to celebrate Mexican Independence Day.

“We’ve got a live band. We’ve got dancing horses. We’ve just got fun time with your family making memories,” said Carvana Viva Mexico organizer Maria Miranda.

Mexico gained its independence from Spain in 1821. Hundreds of years later, families in Central Illinois are celebrating. Miranda has organized the Peoria festivities for three years. She said these celebrations are important for children with Mexican ancestry.

“Plant a seed in our kids to help them feel proud of their roots and our culture and our traditions. Our traditions like these that have lots of food, lots of color, lots of color, lots of music and just family fun all over,” Miranda said.

Many joined in on the fun. Dancing traditional dances and eating traditional food. Nine-year-old Aiden Mendoza said his favorite part of his Mexican culture is tacos.

“Because it tastes good. The meat is good. The tortillas are good,” said Mendoza.

Rey Murillo spent the night helping his dad serve tacos. The nine-year-old said it’s important for him to learn about the country he loves.

“I really love Mexico. I love everything there. I just love Mexico,” said Murillo.