White dress suits got green grass-stained knees as the Perez brothers made a rite of passage Saturday.
In a tradition known as "La Presentacion," Miguel, 8, and Luis, 7, were honored by their parents in a church service and at a party with 100 family and friends at their 27th Street home.
La Presentacion is a custom in Lydia Perez's home state of Guerrero, Mexico. She described it as "the same as being baptized," and an occasion to recognize that the child is no longer a baby. The family has lived in Hood River for 12 years, and Perez has also hosted ceremonies for her older children, Angela, 13, and Gladys, 12.
Saturday was the brothers' turn. The day began with a service led by Father Ronald Maag at St. Mary's Catholic Church, blessing the boys and their gifts. Afterwards, Lydia Perez and her husband, Vincente Sedano, provided a large pastel, or celebration cake, and food and music at their home. The childen burst open pinatas and played other games.
"I want other people to start it and take part in the tradition, because it's like being closer to God," Perez said. She added that she felt proud because Luis and Miguel were enjoying it.
Indeed, both boys said they liked sharing the occasion with each other. They had felt nervous during church but were glad to have so many cousins and friends to play with.
"There'll be dancing," Luis said.
"It's a cool day," declared Miguel. "It shows me that my family really cares about me."
La Presentacion is normally done at age 3, but Gladys Perez explained why her mother waited a few years for Luis' and Miguel's:
"I didn't pay attention at mine, so she said she wanted to wait."