BRAWLEY — Calls flooded the switchboard here at the Imperial Valley Press after papers throughout the country, including USA Today and this newspaper, published articles stating the first U.S. Cinco de Mayo celebrations took place in Southern California, specifically at California State University, Los Angeles, in the 1960s.
The callers were aghast because they remembered going to, or hearing about, Cinco de Mayo celebrations thrown by Brawley's Hidalgo Society in the late 1940s, and even as early as the '20s, according to one caller.
As Danny Santillan of Calexico put it, "Where did you get your information from?"
In the case of the Press story, the information came from historians at the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History.
Seems those historians (and certain friendly neighborhood reporters) didn't know about Brawley's long tradition of Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Our bad.
Hidalgo Society President Marcelino Felician said Saturday, "As for the first celebration … I'm not sure but this club was established in 1922 so if those people are telling you that it was in the '40s they're telling you the truth."