On May 6, the City of Carson held its 46th annual Cinco de Mayo celebration at Carson Park. The City Council and Parks and Recreation staff welcomed the public to enjoy the variety of festivities that were offered at the event, which included live performances by the Colombian music group La Sonora Dinamita, food booths, craft vendors and more.
In addition, there were lots of fun activities for children. With the purchase of a wristband, kids were able to jump into and onto a variety of bounce houses, get their faces painted and play video games on a game bus. Youngsters also were able to play carnival games, such as Loteria Launch, Sombrero Bean Bag Toss and Fiesta Mini Golf.
During the event, some members of the City Council appeared on stage to thank the crowd for coming to the event. Arleen Bocatija Rojas of District 4 said that she was glad to see the number of people who showed up to celebrate Cinco de Mayo, and in doing so, embracing Mexican culture.
“It’s very important that we embrace Hispanic heritage because, really, it is our Hispanic heritage. It doesn’t matter whether we’re Black, white, Filipino, or Asian. We came into this land and the Spaniards were here already,” Rojas said. “Here in the city of Carson, the Latino community, the Hispanic community, is the majority, and so we’re very proud of that.”
In Carson, Hispanics or Latinos make up 37.9% of the population, according to the United States Census Bureau. As a result of this, it was important for the City Council to welcome the community not only to have fun but to remember the significance of the historical event that occurred on Cinco de Mayo, 161 years ago.
History of Cinco de Mayo
The origin of the Cinco de Mayo holiday comes from the story of a military battle between the French and Mexican armies. In 1861, Mexico was suffering financially, which resulted in their former president, Benito Juárez, not being able to pay off debt owed to European countries. This news caused the former president of France, Napoleon III, to send troops to the Mexican city of Puebla. Also, Napoleon III had a set plan to try to take control of Mexico.
On May 5, 1862, the battle began. French troops, led by General Charles Latrille de Lorencez, came face-to-face with the Mexican army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza. The Mexican army fought with all their strength to demonstrate resilience toward the French, and they ended up winning the battle. This battle is called the Battle of Puebla and is now recognized by many who pay homage to history through the celebration of Cinco de Mayo.
Rick Ramirez, who volunteered at the Cinco de Mayo event in Carson City, said that he appreciates the importance of this historical moment and how it symbolizes Mexico’s enduring desire and demand to remain free and independent.
“It was one of the battles during the Franco-Mexican War, so it symbolizes not only the interest of people wanting independence but also this battle being key because the Mexican army won,” Ramirez said. “I believe it was inspiring for the rest of the country and the people that were in the country at the time to continue to pursue independence from France.”
Celebrating Cinco de Mayo
When it comes to Cinco de Mayo, there are those who celebrate it and others who think of it as any other normal day. In the United States, it has become popular among many of Mexican descent to either celebrate by going out to drink or enjoy events that pay tribute to their culture.
Cinco de Mayo also attracts people outside of Mexican culture. As for Mexico, it is not as big of a celebration as people may think, and it is often confused with Mexico’s Independence Day, which is on September 16.
Desiree Gonzalez, who was busy all day selling customizable cups, said that she was proud to be a part of the Carson City event, and proud to show how proud she is of being a Latina. She said that the event brought back childhood memories of how the Cinco de Mayo holiday connected her family.
“When I was younger, all of my cousins would get together for Cinco de Mayo, we would just throw big parties,” Gonzalez said. “So it was like an excuse to get us all together.”
However, Alvaro Gallegos, another vendor in the celebration, said that he believes there are other Latinos who are not aware of why some may even celebrate Cinco de Mayo. “If Mexicans don’t celebrate, it’s because they probably have no idea what we’re celebrating on this day,” Gallegos said. “There is a lack of that in schools, they have to give a little more education and information about history.”
Racism and discrimination toward the Latino community
There continues to be discrimination against Latinos when it comes to their language, culture and the color of their skin, according to the Pew Research Center. “In 2021, 23% of Latino Spanish speakers said they had been criticized for speaking Spanish in public, and 20% of all Latinos said they had been called offensive names in the last 12 months,” the website stated.
An event like Carson City ’s Cinco de Mayo celebration is an example of a place where Latinos and other groups can join together and unite as one. Patrick de La Cruz, a Filipino, enjoyed the festivities, and he appreciated Carson City hosting an event that involves the community.
“It’s just a great event for the community to come together and also to show the culture,” de la Cruz said. “So for me, as a non-Latino or non-Hispanic, it’s great for me to see the culture, appreciate it, and be a part of it.”