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Duarte park renamed after late Fil-Am mayor Tzeitel Paras-Caracci

Steve Angeles | TFC News Duarte

Posted at Nov 06 2023 06:15 PM

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The late Filipino-American Tzeitel Paras-Caracci was a big personality in Duarte, California -- having served 21 years in the city council, and four terms as mayor.

Known as the “Mayor Hello Kitty,” the Quezon City-born Paras-Caracci died from Stage 4 lung cancer in August 2022.

On Nov. 1, the city made sure she won’t be forgotten as it formally renamed The Royal Oak park extension after her.

This surprised the community and even her family, as the park featured her favorite character Hello Kitty.

Even surprising her family and the community with her favorite character to do the honors.

"We miss Tzeitel dearly and together we wanted to commemorate her 20 plus years of dedicated public service to the Duarte community," said Duarte Mayor Jody Schulz. "We could not think [anything] more appropriate than renaming what was once Royal Oak Park Extension to now Tzeitel Pasar Carracci Park."

The park served as a background for one of the biggest days of Paras-Caracci's life.

"Tzeitel loved Duarte [and] Hello Kitty," said her husband, KC Caracci. "It just sort of stuck and everybody called her it. You'll see in the picture that the older she got, she wore it more."

For the Paras family, it was a special moment to see Tzeitel honored in the community they grew up in.

Just as she was unique, the Tzeitel Paras-Caracci Park is believed to be the first park named after a Filipino-American in Southern California.

Only a handful of other public parks, mostly in the San Francisco Bay Area, have honored Filipinos.

"It was an emotional experience," said Paras-Caracci's brother George. "It’s a representation of everything she’s done the past 20 years."

Paras-Caracci is survived by her husband KC and son Jack, who still live close to the park, which will continue to serve as a reminder of the beloved Mayor Hello Kitty’s impact on their community.