Iowa Cubs host their 14th Annual Naturalization Ceremony at Principal Park

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Magistrate Judge Stephen Locher welcoming the 29 new American citizens At the 14th annual Citizenship Ceremony at Principal Park. Photo Tar Macias / Hola Iowa
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It doesn’t get more American than baseball, hot dogs, fireworks, the 4th of July weekend and taking the Oath to become an American citizen. 

On Friday July 1st, the Iowa Cubs — in partnership with the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services and the United States District Court for the Southern District of lowa — welcomed 29 candidates as new U.S. citizens during a special ceremony Friday night at Principal Park celebrating Independence Day. 

The ceremony took place prior to the Iowa Cubs game vs. the Columbus Clippers. 

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The ceremonial first pitch was thrown by one of America’s newest citizens, Tanmoy Bagchi, from India, who was among the 29 new citizens at Principal Park. 

This is the 14th consecutive year the lowa Cubs have hosted the on-field pre-game event. 

“It’s special. The ballpark is a place where we pride ourselves in letting people make memories and what better memory for someone and their family to become a new citizen. We are honored to be part of it.” said Randy Wehofer, VP/Assistant Manager for the Iowa Cubs. 

Magistrate Judge Stephen Locher of the United States District Court for the Southern District of lowa oversaw the ceremony and gave the keynote speech. Penny Luthens, case manager for the court, administered the Oath of Allegiance. 

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These new citizens originate from 20 countries: Bhutan, Burma, Cambodia, Cameroon, Congo (Kinshasa), El Salvador, Eritrea, India, Kenya, Laos, Liberia, Mexico, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Korea, South Sudan, Thailand, Ukraine and Vietnam.

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They now live in Ames, Ankeny, Chariton, Clive, Des Moines, Fort Dodge, Grimes, Marshalltown, Norwalk, Ottumwa, Perry, Pleasant Hill, Urbandale, Waukee and West Des Moines. 

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Carla Ayde Garcia Fernandez, originally from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico and has been living in the US for about 15 years now. 

“I’m very happy. We struggled a little getting to this point but we finally gained the citizenship” Garcia Fernandez told Hola Iowa. 

Carla Ayde Garcia Fernandez, originally from Tijuana, Baja California, Mexico was one of the 29 people that became new American citizens at Principal Park in Des Moines, IA.
Photo Tar Macias / Hola Iowa

There have been a total 421 new citizens naturalized since the first on-field event was held September 4, 2009, at Principal Park. 

In addition, more than 1,500 candidates have become citizens in various other non-game day ceremonies at Principal Park over the past three years.

Some of the 29 new citizens that took their Oath of Allegiance at Principal Park.
Photo Tar Macias / Hola Iowa

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