Community searches for answers after historic plaque goes missing

Local News

 TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – A missing piece of history has the Oakland community wanting answers.      

Just weeks before the 86th annual Fiesta Mexicana, a plaque on a nearby bridge commemorating the event disappeared. 

Deborah Ortega remembers the day the plaque was first revealed back in 1987.

“We had a big celebration and dedication ceremony with Our Lady of Guadalupe school dancers with mariachi players from the community,” said Ortega.

She was the chair of the fiesta committee that helped make the plaque possible.

“The bridge represents the welcoming from all of our neighbors around Topeka into the Oakland area to come and celebrate our Fiesta Mexicana,” said Ortega.

The Fiesta Mexicana is one of Topeka’s biggest events and brings hundreds of people to the Our Lady of Guadalupe church grounds each year.

The fiesta committee’s current chair Alicia Guerrero-Chavez said it’s a way to celebrate faith, family and culture.

“I think it’s just really about you know, unity and bringing people together,” said Guerrero-Chavez.

The fiesta bridge stands right behind the church grounds, where you can begin to hear and see all of the sights and sounds of the Fiesta Mexicana.

“Everybody knows you come over the bridge, then you see all of the carnival rides, and everybody is ready for Fiesta,” said Guerrero-Chavez. “It’s just kind of one of those landmarks.”

When Ortega found out it was missing, she said she couldn’t believe it.

“I was surprised and sad, you know, that that little piece of history was taken,” said Ortega.

But, she doesn’t believe it will take away from the beloved event.

“I will say that while the plaque is gone, it doesn’t dampen the spirit of the Fiesta Mexicana.”

The Topeka Police Department said so far they haven’t received any reports about the missing plaque.

Both Ortega and Guerrero-Chavez are hopeful the plaque can be replaced with a new one.

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