Cultural Landmarks & Celebrations

Waco is home to numerous events and locations that are special to its Latinx American community.

25TH STREET FIRE STATION

Once the location of the historic 25th Street Theater, this site now houses the Waco Fire Administration offices and the 25th Street firehouse. The firehouse includes a community room with plans for the space to be used for neighborhood association meetings and afterschool art lessons for youth.

CALLE DOS

Calle Dos emerged in the early 20th century as a haven for Mexican immigrants fleeing border violence and rapidly developed into a center of culture and community for Waco’s Latinx American population.

Never an officially designated neighborhood, the boundaries of Calle Dos were often disputed. Some claimed the area simply to be an extension of Sandtown, while others claimed it as its own entity bounded by Fourth Street, Washington Avenue, modern-day Waco Drive, and the Brazos River. In either case, it is clear that the community along the Brazos grew to be a tight-knit center of Latinx American culture.

Many Calle Dos residents opened up businesses along 2nd Street, transforming the once avoided area into a busy thoroughfare. Various organizations established in the area to serve the immigrant community also contributed to the neighborhood’s sense of identity. For half a century, Calle Dos provided cultural identity and community for Waco's Latinx population, and the efforts of community leaders today ensure that this legacy will not be forgotten.

CINCO DE MAYO

Hosted by the City of Waco and held during the Brazos Night concert series on the first Friday of May at Indian Spring Park, this free family music festival is complete with food booths, vendors and games. The festival attracts more than 7,000 people each year to celebrate the 1862 victory of the Mexican army over the French Empire.

MUTUALISTA HALL (LA MUTUALISTA SOCIEDAD DE JORNALEROS)

Mutualistas were first established in Texas during the late 19th century by Mexican immigrants. These mutual aid societies provided immigrants with a connection to their home country and a support network to meet basic needs as they forged a life in a new and unfamiliar country. 

FIESTA PATRIA

Celebrated throughout Texas, this festival commemorates Mexico’s Independence Day and Father Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla’s calling for the end of Spanish rule in the country. Hosted by La Ley 104.1 and taking place mid-September at the Extraco Events Center. This is the largest Latinx American festival in Central Texas, drawing a crowd of approximately 10,000 every year.

HISPANIC HERITAGE MONTH

September 15 marks the beginning of National Hispanic Heritage Month, a time where the nation celebrates the cultural contributions and important presence of Hispanic and Latinx Americans in the United States. Wacoans celebrate this month in a number of ways, including through a Floating Mercado/Vendor market, art show, and celebration highlighting local artists and their works that have been inspired by Latinx heritage. During this time, the church community also holds festivals, such as Dia Del Charro, providing other opportunities to celebrate the beauty present throughout Waco’s Latinx American community.

MUTUALISTA HALL (LA MUTUALISTA SOCIEDAD DE JORNALEROS)

Mutualistas were first established in Texas during the late 19th century by Mexican immigrants. These mutual aid societies provided immigrants with a connection to their home country and a support network to meet basic needs as they forged a life in a new and unfamiliar country.

The Waco mutualista, established in 1924, was initially located within the thriving Latinx American community living at and around Calle Dos. That same year, St. Francis on the Brazos was founded to serve the poor Mexican American community in the area. Likewise, the mutualista formed under principles of union, fraternity, and progress, with its primary goal centered on watching over the Mexican working-class community. This idea is reflected in its name, La Mutualista Sociedad de Jornaleros, as the word jornaleros means laborers in English.

The Waco mutualista continues to provide aid to the community. The organization collects money for scholarship funds, toy drives, and other service activities. While its focus remains on the Mexican American and Latinx American communities, the mutualista also seeks to serve the community at large — a continuation of its rich history of service.

SANDTOWN

Sandtown was a vibrant and predominately Mexican American neighborhood that was active from the turn of the 20th century to the 1960s. It encompassed the area of downtown Waco between 3rd Street and the Brazos River, and the seven blocks between Mary Street and the present day Umphrey Law Center of the Baylor Law School. At its peak during the 1950s, approximately 50 working-class families resided in Sandtown. For many of the community’s families, the neighborhood was the first place they called home within the United States after emigrating from Mexico.

The people of Sandtown added greatly to Waco’s rich diversity, and its residents contributed to the economic growth of the city. Though small in size, there is no dispute over Sandtown’s significance amongst its former residents.

Visit wacohistory.org for a more Hispanic American cultural landmarks within Waco.