GREELEY — When Vincentius Farnando, 18, came to the United States from Indonesia with his mother in 2006, he had no idea what to expect. He remembered gazing out at the country from the plane and thinking it looked beautiful.

They lived in Lompoc, Calif., for a few years, and Farnando, who barely spoke English, went to a school where he  was the only Indonesian kid. It was awkward, but eventually the school system helped him find his place in America.

The family moved to Colorado in 2010, and Farnando started to get more and more interested in music. He picked up the French horn and mellophone, and this fall will be starting college at University of Northern Colorado as a music education major.

And on Wednesday, Farnando and his mother became U.S. citizens. He will celebrate his first Fourth of July as a citizen by marching in the Greeley Independence Day parade.

“Everyone here has been so welcoming,” he said.

The two were part of a group of 39 Coloradans who became new U.S. citizens the day before Independence Day at a naturalization ceremony in Greeley.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Simas Mat, originally from Cambodia, took part in a naturalization ceremony for America’s newest citizens at Centennial Village Museum in Greeley on July 3, 2019.

The ceremony was held outside at the Centennial Village Museum, and despite the hot sun, attendees came decked out in their finest, with museum volunteers there to greet them in full period dress. Children chased each other around the folding chairs, and people used American-flag colored fans to cool themselves. Politicians welcomed the new citizens.

Those becoming citizens lived in cities across Colorado and were from 25 countries, including Burma, Eritrea, Mexico, Ghana and Romania. They were part of a contingent of more than 7,500 people being naturalized in over 100 ceremonies across the country July 1 through July 5.

The participants and the audience enthusiastically said the Pledge of Allegiance together.

Before leading the oath of allegiance, Kristi Goldinger, the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services district director in Colorado, acknowledged each of the home countries that people were from. People stood and waved tiny American flags while their country was named, and the audience clapped and cheered for each one. South Korea and the United Kingdom received the loudest fanfare.

The participants then recited the oath of allegiance, officially becoming citizens. They were welcomed to the stage individually to receive a certificate of naturalization and were congratulated by government representatives. An Indian husband and wife were naturalized one after another. A Mexican man’s daughter ran up to hug him right after he received his certificate. An Eritrean woman’s family cheered loudly as she received her’ certificate.

RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Edgar Elias puts an American flag in his pocket during a naturalization ceremony for America’s newest citizens at Centennial Village Museum in Greeley on July 3, 2019. Elias, originally from Mexico, along with others took part in the ceremony to become American citizens.

For Arvin Ramgoolam of Crested Butte, the day was a long time coming. He came to the U.S. from Trinidad and Tobago in 1988, but didn’t apply for a green card until 2000. He recently applied to become a citizen and was at the service with his wife Danica and their two young daughters.

The current political climate in the country made him decide to become a citizen, along with the fact that he now has a family, he said.

“It was a really important time to do it,” Ramgoolam said.

Ramgoolam’s neighbors are throwing him a party Thursday to celebrate his citizenship.

It was a special day for Ana Alania, who said that she had a hard time describing how the ceremony made her feel because it was so emotional. Alania came to the U.S. from Peru in 2011. She said at first it was challenging because everything was different and she didn’t know anybody. But over time, it began to feel more and more like her country.

Ana Alania, from Peru, center, is ...
RJ Sangosti, The Denver Post
Ana Alania, originally from Peru, center, is met with family after she became an American citizen during a naturalization ceremony at Centennial Village Museum in Greeley on July 3, 2019.

She went back to Peru last year for a visit and realized that her life was in the U.S. When she returned to Colorado, she applied to become a citizen.

“I feel like this is my home now,” she said.

For Roberto Caccia, the service was surprisingly touching. At professor of finance at the University of Colorado Boulder, Caccia first came to the U.S. from Rome, Italy in 1993. He went back and forth, getting an MBA from MIT and eventually coming to Boulder in 2012.

“It was more moving than I thought it would be,” he said about the ceremony. He wasn’t expecting it to be that emotional, but when he put his hand over his heart to say the pledge, he felt “butterflies.”