BEAVERTON, Ore. -- The City of Beaverton has expanded the scope of a celebration that started out as a party for Mexico's Independence Day.

The city on Friday announced they were broadening the festival to recognize National Hispanic Heritage Month for the Year of the Bicentennial in the Americas as Argentina, Chile, Colombia, and Mexico all marking 200 years of independence over the month.

It was scheduled for September 16 at 6 p.m. at Beaverton's City Park.

Earlier this week, controversy erupted when radio commentator Lars Larson interviewed Beaverton City Commissioner Betty Bode to ask why the city was officially celebrating Mexican Independence Day, but had no official celebration for American Independence Day.

According to the U.S. Census, Beaverton is the most diverse city in the state. Twenty percent is non-white, 16 percent is classified as Hispanic. Larson argued that fact did not necessarily mean of Mexican descent.

A request for the event was taken from the Mexican consulate, Bode said. Bode said the aim of the celebration was to allow people of Mexican heritage into closer ties with the community at large.

Beaverton's Mayor Denny Doyle was set to speak at the event, along with performances by a Mexican folk ballet, maricachi bands and food. The cost to put on the event was $6,000 The festival is free to attend.

But critics call it ridiculous, when the city doesn't even have a taxpayer-funded Fourth of July Celebration.

It's completely inadequate, said Larson, It doesn't do the right thing and simply renames the wrong thing.

Larson had Beaverton City Councilwoman Betty Bode on his show Thursday, and asked her why the city would sponsor a foreign celebration and not an American one.

September 16 marks the 200th anniversary of Mexican independence movement from Spain and November 20 marks the 100th anniversary of the Mexican revolution.

Events in September will be taking place in Oregon (Independence, Woodburn, Portland, Eugene and Hillsboro) and around the country.

Hispanic Heritage Month celebrates Hispanic heritage starting in 1968 after Hispanic Heritage Week was approved by President Lyndon Johnson. It was expanded by President Ronald Reagan in 1988 to cover a 30-day period starting on September 15 and ending on October 15. It was enacted into law on August 17, 1988.

It s an honor to recognize events like these that are so special to many members of this community, Doyle said.

KGWReporterAnne Yeager contributed to this report

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