Comision Honorifica Mexicana Americana's Cinco de Mayo festivities returned to Porterville Saturday night, complete with the official crowning of Alysia Castillo as Miss Cinco de Mayo, Ivette Jaime as Miss Cinco de Mayo Princess, and Nia Rodriguez as Little Miss Cinco de Mayo; and Obdulia Guzman Alvarado who's reigning as Cinco de Mayo Grand Marshal for the second consecutive year.
Because all of their activities came to a halt when COVID-19 hit last year, everything was placed on hold. They continued with the same girls, now one year older, and the same Grand Marshal.
“She got it for two years because last year we couldn't celebrate,” said CHMA Treasurer Elva Beltran.
Following the reading of her biography, including being the 1974 Miss Cinco de Mayo Princess, Alvarado thanked everyone for being there. She said she brought her late father's sombrero because it represented all the hard work he and her mother did.
“This hat is my dad's,” she said. “He always wanted what was best for us.”
She talked about her family. Of 11 children, 10 graduated from high school, 10 went to college and received their bachelor's, five of them have received a master's, and one, her sister Amalia, is working on her PhD.
“At graduation, that would be our cap,” she had said prior to the celebration. “I always like to say our parents crossed the border so we can cross the stage.”
On the CHMA stage, she ended with “Si se puede” before stepping away.
The evening continued with the group Danza: Calpulli Tepeyollotl Cuahuitlan dancing and praying to Mother Earth.
CHMA President Roberto de la Rosa talked of the beauty of “blending our culture and not forgetting where we came from, not forgetting our roots, not forgetting our parents.”
He went on to talk about Mexico winning the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, and of the 4,000 French soldiers who faced 2,000 ill-prepared and poorly armed Mexicans.
“We're extra proud of who we are. Some of us crossed the river, el monte, el cerro, and faced tremendous odds,” de la Rosa said. “Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of our strength against someone with more power.”
When last year's Cinco de Mayo candidates were called forward, Beltran talked about the 2020/2021 titles.
“Last year when the pandemic hit, all ticket sales stopped,” she said just prior to making the official announcement of the winners who were then crowned on stage.
The Little Miss' win is based only on ticket sales and they would honor that system this year, based on who had the most sales at the time the selling stopped.
The older girls weren't able to present their talent, so this year, they continued in the running and the winners were determined by last year's ticket sales, their grade point average and an essay.
Capturing the Little Miss crown was 6-year-old Rodriguez. She attends Santa Fe Elementary and is the daughter of Destiny Gonzalez and Robert Rodriguez.
Miss 5 de Mayo Princess was won be Jaime, 19, a student at Porterville College. Her parents are Norma and Victor Jaime. And the Miss Cinco de Mayo sash and crown went to 19-year-old Castillo, daughter of Juan and Melissa Castillo, and a student at Porterville College.
The program began with the posting of colors and national anthems for the United States and Mexico. Castillo carried the U.S. flag and Alvarado the Mexico flag. The CHMA board of directors were also introduced prior to Beltran talking about an active beloved missing board member who passed recently — Grace Munoz Rios.
“Grace went above the call of duty. We are honored we were her friends,” Beltran said as she talked about the many hats Rios wore and mentioned many of her titles. “We honor her today and honor her friendship for being such a caring person.”
A moment of silence followed.