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Brawley celebrates Cinco de Mayo

May 05, 2001|By LAURA MACKENZIE, Staff Writer

BRAWLEY — Cinco de Mayo just may be the reason French isn't spoken officially in Mexico.

"A lot of people get confused as to why we celebrate Cinco de Mayo," said Ruben Garcia, president of the Hidalgo Society.

He explained Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day, which is Sept. 16.

Cinco de Mayo is the day Mexico defeated Napoleon's French army in the "Battle of the Puebla."

"Our ancestors, our grandparents started the Cinco de Mayo celebration. They were trying to preserve our culture," said Garcia, adding, "People expect it year in and year out."

Sponsored by the 79-year-old Hidalgo Society, Brawley's Cinco de Mayo celebration Saturday was an entire day of fun.

Starting early Saturday with a men and women's 10-kilometer run, the day included volleyball and horseshoes tournaments and ended with a parade and the coronation of the Cinco de Mayo queen.

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"That's when the celebration starts, after the queen is crowned," said Garcia.

With food booths, face-painting, a mariachi band and folklorico dancers, the Hidalgo Society put on one big Cinco de Mayo celebration.

"It's one of the biggest fund raisers of the club," Garcia said, adding, "It is the biggest event of the east side of the community. A lot of politicos come, too, especially on election years, to shake hands."

Domingo Sandoval of Brawley brought his family to the block party to "get back to our roots and to see what the Hispanic community puts together."

Sandoval said the celebration is important because it shows the "Hispanic community can get socially involved."

Carmen Mercado, whose 7-year-old daughter was participating as a folklorico dancer, said as she teaches her daughter about her Hispanic heritage, she is learning more about it herself.

"I hope she grows up proud of her heritage," said Mercado.

Tanya Bonillas, 16, and her sister Araceli Bonillas, 15, members of the folklorico dance group, "Estampas de Mexico," said they dance to show people their heritage.

"(Dance) keeps it alive. … It's a time to celebrate our heritage," said Tanya, adding, "plus it's a good workout."

Araceli added the best part of the day is "dancing with the mariachi."

"It's important for all cultures to know about our culture," said Esmerelda Robles, the 2000 Cinco de Mayo queen.

Throughout the year Robles visited Brawley elementary schools to share the Hispanic culture and history with children.

"We're a very united culture and we have very unique traditions," she said.

Robles said she hopes the students learn "responsibility, culture and how to be a role model."

The Hidalgo Society uses the money raised to donate to community causes and for scholarships for high school students.

"We throw it all back into the community," said Garcia.

Garcia said the Cinco de Mayo celebration is important to the community because it promotes unity.

"It shows unity of community. It is important that we keep it for our youngsters to show them to get involved," said Garcia.

He said the Hidalgo Society is fixing a room in its hall for a computer lab for the community.

"We hope to have 10 computers for the community and kids to use," he said.

Staff Writer Laura MacKenzie can be reached at 337-3442.

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