Javier, Amada Chavez honored to be Pioneer Days' first Hispanic grand marshals

Monday , July 24, 2017 - 5:00 AM1 comment

JANAE FRANCIS, Standard-Examiner Staff

OGDEN — If Javier Chavez could teach the residents of Ogden just three Spanish words, they’d be, “Si se puede.”

The words, which mean, “Yes, you can,” are Chavez’s motto.

“My husband always says that quote to our children,” wife Amada Chavez said. “He says ‘You can do it. You can succeed. It’s not easy but you can.’”

Javier and Amada Chavez are the first Hispanic people chosen to be grand marshals of Monday’s Ogden Pioneer Days Grand Parade.

As the owners of Javier’s Authentic Mexican Food, the couple said they want to positively represent the local Hispanic community and show their appreciation.

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Brought here from Mexico by former Weber State University track and field coach Chick Hislop on an athletic scholarship, Javier Chavez said he was always guided by Hislop to make the best of his life. 

“I call him my American Papa,” Javier Chavez said of Hislop. “Thanks to him, I am who I am.”

The couple now own seven restaurants between Farmington and Logan and have plans to open more. Javier Chavez also volunteered for 19 years as a cross country and track coach at St. Joseph Catholic High School.

They aren’t the only members of the Chavez family that have found success though — all four of their children have gone on to receive advanced university degrees, Amada Chavez said.

Both said they’re examples of the hard work and positive contributions Northern Utah’s Hispanic community has to offer.

“The Hispanic community values working, and these people have a lot to offer this community,” Amada Chavez said. “We want to represent them well.”

Neither believe anyone has held them back from their aspirations.

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“I don’t feel different from anybody,” Javier Chavez said, noting the success that has come to him through hard work. “Despite the color of my skin, I always felt accepted.”

The couple said they felt blessed and happy to be selected to lead the parade. 

“We feel very honored,” Amada Chavez said. “This is such a wonderful experience.”

Both grew up in country and farming communities and have been interested in the Ogden Pioneer Days Rodeo since they arrived in Utah four decades ago. 

“When we arrived here in Ogden, we participated in the rodeo with our children,” Amada Chavez said.

“I am a cowboy,” Javier Chavez said. “I used to ride horses and donkeys.” 

While watching the rodeo over the years, Amada Chavez said she has come to appreciate the caliber of people who participate.

“I was looking at the people,” she said. “It’s such an honor to be chosen to be listed among them. We will never forget this experience. It will go to our children and their children.”

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For 15 years, the couple has sponsored all the food served in the hospitality cabin to rodeo sponsors and supporters on one night of the rodeo. This year, they served food on Thursday night, and the couple wore huge smiles as they personally greeted everyone who entered the hospitality cabin for dinner.

“This is my contribution to the community,” Javier Chavez said. “I came here. I had nothing. They have given me so much.”

Ogden Pioneer Days Chairman Alan Hall said the committee couldn’t be more pleased to have the Javier and Amada Chavez represent the celebration as grand marshals.

“Based upon their selfless dedication and continuous support of the people of Ogden City as employers, philanthropists, positive role models, loving parents, mentors to many youth and as exemplary modern day pioneers, we are very pleased to honor this remarkable couple who are outstanding community advocates,” Hall said.

You may reach reporter JaNae Francis at jfrancis@standard.net or 801-625-4228. Follow her on Twitter at @JaNaeFrancisSE or like her on Facebook at facebook.com/SEJaNaeFrancis. 

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