A taste of Mexico was on tap Friday evening at the Santa Maria Veterans Memorial Community Center for the 11th annual event to raise money for recreation and parks programs.

The sellout “Tastes of Mexico” benefits the People for Leisure and Youth, or PLAY Inc., the nonprofit organization that raises money for Santa Maria Recreation and Parks Department programs and equipment in the city. 

“All the money raised here tonight will go toward financial assistance and scholarships for youth and families to participate in recreation programs offered by the department,” said Dennis Smitherman, recreation supervisor for the city.

PLAY also helps fund Concerts in the Park and Movies in the Park held several times a year in Santa Maria for free to residents. Additionally, it has purchased bounce houses with the PLAY money.

Tastes Mexico

Mariachi music accompanied people eating and drinking at Tastes of Mexico in Santa Maria on Friday night. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

Tastes of Mexico is PLAY Inc.’s biggest fundraiser each year. This is the third year the event has sold out, he said.

“Without those contributions from you guys by being here tonight … those events, those scholarships, that financial assistance wouldn’t be made possible,” Smitherman said.

More than a dozen restaurants served up small bites of Mexican food while Mexican beers and margarita samples also were handed out. The businesses donated the food and staff as servers to benefit PLAY.

A raffle drawing included prizes donated from throughout the community.

“A lot of people really love this event,” Smitherman said.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at jscully@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.