The city of Duarte, California near Los Angeles held a dedication ceremony Wednesday to rename what used to be the Royal Oaks Park Extension in honor of their late former mayor, Tzeitel Paras-Caracci.
Paras-Caracci served as Duarte’s mayor in 2006, 2011, 2015 and 2019, and was a longtime member of the city council, being elected to the first of her six terms in 2001. She was the first Filipino American member of the city council, and the longest sitting Filipino American municipal elected official in the country.
As reported by KNX News, the 11am ceremony is making the city council’s decision to rename the park from back in September official. The council picked the park, and the date for the ceremony, because of their special significance for Paras-Caracci.
In 2003, Paras-Caracci married her husband KC Caracci in the park that now bears her name, according to Duarte parks and recreation director Manuel Enriquez.
Enriquez also told KNX News that November 1st was chosen because its Hello Kitty Day, the character’s “birthday”—who Paras-Caracci was a “huge enthusiast” for. Her Instagram handle is even @mayorhellokitty.
Enriquez went on to praise her for supporting parks and young people during her terms as mayor and as a city councilor.
Para-Caracci passed away at home with her family at age 49, after a three-year battle against lung cancer, according to her obituary. Born in Quezon City, she immigrated to Los Angeles with her family in 1975. In 1985, she started her connection with the City of Duarte, moving there and attending Duarte High School.
As a city official, her colleagues elected her to the board of the National League of Cities and the League of California Cities, and president of APAMO, Asian Pacific American Municipal Officials.
The day after her death on June 25th, 2022, a group of 13 current and former Filipino American city officials came together to honor her as a “great trailblazer,” as reported on by Spectrum News One.
Their statement, released by Artesia’s Mayor Melissa Ramoso, praised her as an inspiration for Filipino Americans and the city of Duarte, acclaiming that “Her enthusiastic desire to serve others was inspirational to all of us. We will miss her as our fellow kababayan, but her legacy will live on.”
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