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Los Vigilantes

Naming & History of Los Vigilantes

Los Vigilantes is a unique civic organization that derived its name from the word "Vigilante", which is defined as "a member of a vigilance committee". A Vigilance Committee is defined as "a volunteer committee of citizens organized to suppress and punish crime summarily (as when the processes of law appear inadequate)". Dressed in a uniform that consists of black western hat, black western-cut pants, black western shirts with blue shoulder and sleeve inserts, black boots, white tie, and western belt buckle, members are easily identified.

Los Vigilantes was founded in 1945 and was initially organized to work with the Imperial Valley Roundup, then held at the Imperial Mid-Winter Fairgrounds. The citizens of El Centro were requested to wear western togs for the duration of the rodeo. Those who did not were subject to "arrest" by the group organized to aid with the rodeo. It was soon realized that the local law enforcement officials would not arrest the culprits (mostly leading businessmen) for their lack of cooperation with the rodeo committee, so it was up to a local group to take over the duty. The name Los Vigilantes was adopted by those individuals chosen to go out and round up the uncooperative locals. The arrested offenders were transported to the hoosegow at 5th & Main Streets in a caged pickup, which was the official vehicle for transporting the transgressors.

From this humble beginning the group, sponsored by the EI Centro Chamber of Commerce, moved into the more dignified activities of serving as community greeters and parade organizers. Both duties still represent a major part of the Los Vigilantes present activities, which includes the staging of all major parades in the Imperial Valley: Brawley Cattle Call Parade, EI Centro Merchants' Christmas Parade, Calexico Christmas Parade, Holtville Carrot Festival Parade, El Centro Children's Fair Pet Parade, Campo Wild West Days Parade, Pine Valley Days Parade, and the Red Ribbon Parade.

In addition to parades, Los Vigilantes stage numerous community events. The Mistletoe Ball, traditionally held the evening of the El Centro Merchants' Christmas Parade, is one of the premier events that kick-off the Christmas season in the Imperial Valley. As a combined effort with the El Centro Chamber of Commerce and the Produce Industry of Imperial Valley, Los Vigilantes also sponsors the Produce Ball and the related Saladero Contest and Produce Queen Contest, in recognition of the role that agriculture has played in the development of the Imperial Valley. In addition, Los Vigilantes helps coordinate numerous community events such as the annual Chili Cook-Off, Snowbird Pancake Breakfast, and events as requested.

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