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Cinco de Mayo showcases pride, community
Pride, roots, and family were part of the common theme at Saturday’s Cinco de Mayo celebration which consisted of a morning parade and a family festival. The festivities were in honor of the victory that the Mexican forces achieved over the invading French army at the Battle of Puebla.
This year marked the 85th year for the Fifth of May celebrations which was sponsored by the Comision Honorifica Mexicana-Americana.
With a volley of police whistles and shrills the celebration began as members of the police department led the cultural procession. Spectators watched and waited silently as the American flag passed.
When the Mexican flag appeared jeers and whoops erupted. Then came the almost seemingly endless sequence of colorfully decked out marching bands with trumpets blazing brilliantly, and color guard members doing their best to execute their routines.
Some of the bands that made an appearance were the Porterville, Monache, and the Granite Hills high school bands and the Strathmore Bulldog band. Other performing groups included John J. Doyle Elementary.
Like other local parades there was a mix of personal and organizational appearances. Riding in a red Chevy Silverado Grand Marshal Mercy Herrera, in a traditional white dress and an oversized sombrero, smiled and waved to the crowd.
The rainbow colored floats with streamers and gobs of bunched up flowers added a bit of flavor and vibrancy to the display.
“It’s just the brightness of the colors is part of our tradition. They come out when they do the floats they do really beautiful flowers. It makes you happy,” said Grace Munoz-Rios, a pageant/money and booth coordinator for the Comision and the fiesta, when asked about the flowers and decorations.
One attendee was very happy with the results.
“I came to celebrate Cinco de Mayo. It means that as Mexicans we are proud and it’s a tradition for us to celebrate. I want to pass on to my son that it’s a good day to celebrate and have fun,” said Guillermo Trevino.
Another attendee agreed.
“The parade was good. We can’t forget where we come from. People should come just to know our music and our wardrobe, and for just having a good time with the community,” said Carina Murguria. According to Murguria she’d like to see some folkloric dancers next year.
After the last float most of the crowd headed over to the family festival in Centennial Park which featured live bands, food vendors, which served a variety of food including Frito Boats, and informational booths.
Family HealthCare Network had a sugar tent setup which displayed different drinks; including Gatorade, and an energy drink, with a baggy of sugar cubes for each. Three cubes represented one spoon of sugar. For the Gatorade that meant that the drink contained 10 spoonful’s of sugar. FHCN also had a tent for sugar testing.
Tulare Works promoted a Good Eats booth which gave parents and students information on healthy eating habits via brochures.
A third community booth was the Mother’s United Against Gang Violence which was founded by Mary Martinez. Her son Francisco “Frankie” Martinez, who was 23 at the time of his death, was gunned down in 2003 by gang members. After his death, she decided to start the group with her daughter. The goals of the group are many.
“To help with the youth in the community, to educate, and bring them (students, kids, and gang members) to an understanding that the gang life is not the way,” said Martinez.