HANFORD — Hundreds of grandparents marched into Monroe Elementary School's cafeteria on Friday, hand-in-hand with their grandchildren to enjoy an early morning breakfast.
For Victor Estanol and his wife, Ina Emma Perez Reynoso, attending with their grandchildren was all the more special after arriving Sept. 15 from Mexico City, just days before a 7.1 earthquake hit the city, toppling buildings, leaving hundreds dead, injured and buried under rubble.
Lourdes Estanol said the grandparents made the decision to visit after her three children called them asking if they could please visit for Grandparents Day.
“Fortunately they were here and not there during the time of the earthquake,” Lourdes Estanol said. “Thank God nothing did happen and that they are happy and safe.”
Nothing major happened to their house and no family members were injured during the earthquake, but a nearby building did collapse near their home.
“I have grandchildren who live all over Mexico, but they are the only ones who live here in the U.S. When they called asking us to come, of course we did,” Reynoso said. “I love my grandchildren a lot, and they are very happy here, especially with their teachers and their friends, and my daughter-in-law is also very happy here.”
For the children, their grandparents' visit was all the more special after winning their student council elections last Friday.
Ina Lourdes Estanol, a sixth-grader, and Victor Manuel Estanol, a fifth-grader, named after their grandparents, won the school election as president (Ina Lourdes) and vice president (Victor Manuel).
“[The grandparents] arrived the day of the election and that was their gift to their grandparents, letting them know that they had won,” Lourdes Estanol said.
Victor Estanol said that they had not seen their grandchildren in four years, and that it was time they came for a visit.
“If I would have been in Mexico City during the quake with the grace of God nothing would have happened to me,” Victor Estanol said. “It is very sad what happened in Mexico, but thank goodness nothing happened [to my family] and I am calm knowing that all my family who is currently living in Mexico is safe.”
The Estanol siblings were not the only students that had grandparents visit from Mexico.
Sixth-grade student Miguel Garcia had a chance to have breakfast with both of his grandmothers at the school celebration. One of his grandmothers also flew in from Mexico for the event, although not from Mexico City.
“…when [the school] said we were going to have breakfast with them, I thought that I should invite them,” Miguel said.
Obdulia Sanchez, Miguel’s grandmother, arrived from Mexico 15 days ago. She said they don’t celebrate Grandparents Day in Mexico but she had a great time interacting with her grandchildren.
“It is really beautiful being able to come in and have breakfast and interact with them,” Sanchez said.
Apart from the large variety of fruits, pastries and coffee offered, the school also set up a photo booth that allowed both grandparents and students to take photos.