■ By Corey Evan / Reporter
Some Americans are still unclear why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the United States, particularly in California. To help clarify, the holiday celebrates the Mexican Army’s defeat of France at the Battle of Puebla, rather than Mexican Independence (which is actually celebrated in Mexico on September 16th). Stateside, we see more celebration of Cinco de Mayo than Mexico does. So as the holiday gains popularity here, it’s worth taking part in the festivities.
Main Street in downtown San Jacinto was closed off for the day to make the festival possible, as street vendors brought in commemorative knickknacks, simple carnival games and fitting food fare. The weather changed dramatically overnight, but hundreds of people and their kids braved the dampness to partake in the festivities.
Live music for the fiesta was provided by three DJs, including DJ Gibby, and four live musical acts, including Modern Rock and Johnny U, as well as folklorico dancers backed by Soboba Indian drummers.
Even though Main Street was cordoned off and street parking a no-no, a selection of customized classic and semi-classic rides from area custom car shops were on display.
Timothy Kubo, sales and marketing director for the San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce, described the rationale for having Cinco de Mayo on seis de Mayo:
“We wanted to do it on a Saturday, because we would have more people that could make it,” said Kubo. “Obviously, Friday nights… Friday, people have to work until five, six o’clock, and they’ve gotta take care of their children. We just wanted to make sure we did it here on a Saturday so we could have more of the community with us.”
Cinco de Mayo is certainly special for San Jacinto Mayor Scott Miller: It’s also his birthday… AND his wedding anniversary! “And I did that on purpose, so I would never forget,” quipped Miller.
It’s worth noting that having such an event on Main Street helps support Main Street businesses, the same way last month’s Ramona Festival in Hemet did. As San Jacinto works to bring more investment to the community, showing investment in those who are already here helps a lot.
City Manager Rob Johnson talked briefly about such attempts: “We’re working to bring more businesses to downtown, to revitalize Main Street. We’re starting a program called #GoSanJacinto.” You can learn more about this program on the city of San Jacinto’s Facebook page @cityofsanjacintoca.
Sponsors for the downtown Cinco de Mayo included Best, Best & Krieger, Attorneys at Law, Buskins, CR&R Environmental Services, the Hemet/San Jacinto Chamber of Commerce, McKenna Lanier Group Inc., and Namerrs Signs.
We may be commemorating a holiday based around Mexican history, but we’re also commemorating world history. When we open our hearts to other cultures, we learn a lot about each other! Maybe around Christmas, we could learn a bit about Boxing Day, too.