Cinco de Mayo fiesta

Stockton community comes together to celebrate Mexican heritage traditions


Stephanie Jimenez

On Center street, the annual Cinco de Mayo parade began the celebration with numerous traditional dances from Mexico. Dances from Sinaloa, Michoacan and others entertained all.

Cinco de Mayo: A day when thousands take to the streets, donning festive attire and Mexican-inspired embroidery. Mariachi bands play their hearts out as dancers move to the rhythm of the beat. Cultural food is served by vendors, including the likes of beef carnitas and salsa cruda.

On May 6, El Concilio hosted its annual family festival at Weber Point Events Center in honor of the holiday. Several students were in attendance, including junior Marissa Pimentel.Pimentel, who had the opportunity to ride on a float during the parade, enjoyed getting to be a part of a celebration of Mexican culture.

“I hadn’t gone before,” she said. “Seeing everybody involved in the event was pretty nice.” Sophomore Clarissa Marquez took part in a baile, which is a gathering where participants dance to ethnic music.

“The baile was meant to represent Cinco de Mayo and our traditions,” she said. “There was a great turnout. A lot of people came and they got to experience what it’s like in Mexico.”

Growing up, Marquez heard stories from her grandmother about her time in her native country. She often spoke of how different life was there compared to the United States and shared fond childhood memories.

“When she was in Mexico, she would always like to watch the women dancing and see their dresses,” Marquez said of her grandmother.

Though both Pimentel and Marquez appreciate the recognition of their heritage, they agree that some people may use Cinco de Mayo as an excuse to party, ignorant of the history of Mexican independence.

“My family and I never celebrated Cinco de Mayo,” Pimentel said. “September 16 is when we got our freedom and that’s what my parents always tell me.” She believes it is important for people to educate themselves about the Mexican War of Independence and know their history.

Spanish teacher Raquel Prado has similar sentiments. “I don’t see Cinco de Mayo the way people see it here in the United States,” she said. “It’s seen as an excuse to go out with friends. That aspect can be good because it brings people together, but the history is not as focused on.”

Prado also feels the holiday has become far too commercialized and companies attempt to capitalize on it. “It’s a big day for them to advertise alcohol,” she said in reference to those companies.

Prado, who was born and raised in Mexico, notes that the majority of the people where she is from don’t participate in festivities on Cinco de Mayo.

Although junior Jaime Saucedo knows Cinco de Mayo isn’t Mexico’s Independence Day, he, like Prado, appreciates its power to bring families together. “When I was younger, we’d celebrate by going to my father’s house and barbecuing,” Saucedo said.

He holds these memories near and dear to his heart and acknowledges that it is a special time for those of Mexican descent. However, he realizes there are people who are unaware of how Mexico gained its freedom. “I feel like they should be a bit more informed,” Saucedo said. “It shouldn’t just be an excuse to go out and do something.”

He also thinks that it would be good to celebrate the day Mexico won its independence on the proper date: Sept. 16.

“It’d be an opportunity to spend time with family while acknowledging history.”