NY’s Cinco de Mayo Celebrations Back on Track

The East Harlem festival celebrated Cinco de Mayo on 115th Street (Photo by Humberto Arellano via El Diario).

The East Harlem festival celebrated Cinco de Mayo on 115th Street (Photo by Humberto Arellano via El Diario)

The city’s Mexican community celebrated Cinco de Mayo last weekend with two very different festivities: The return of the East Harlem festival, slimmed down after last year’s cancellation, and a massive concert at Flushing Meadows Park, El Diario/La Prensa reports.

A story by Zaira Cortés tells about the small party in East Harlem, which congregated a thousand people and marked the comeback of the 17-year-old festival after last year’s abrupt cancellation when the organizers failed to get the city’s authorization.

Formerly organized by the Centro de la Comunidad Mexicana (CECOMEX), whose leader Juan Cáceres is in prison convicted of second-degree rape, the event used to take up three blocks on East 116th Street, and in the past it provided a platform for local and Mexican politicians seeking a wide audience. (…)

“We started a new celebration because El Barrio’s Mexican community deserves a space to honor its culture,” said Ricardo Ríos, one of the organizers. “It was difficult to get the license, the authorities are very distrustful.”

This year’s event took place on East 115th Street between Second and Third Avenues. Ríos said that the police refused to authorize the closing of East 116th Street.

“We will insist in trying to reclaim that space next year. The goal is to make the festival grow until it reaches the same size of the previous one,” added Ríos.

Residents were pleased by the efforts to revive the popular celebration. Alma Guzmán, 32, said that last year’s cancelation left a big void in the community.

“We were used to bringing in the whole family and showing our Mexican pride. It was disappointing not to have a place in the neighborhood to wave our flag,” she said.

To the sound of the tambora and “norteña” music, residents wore the national soccer team’s green shirt to show their pride. Some 50 food and handicraft stalls were on display, and owners of restaurants nearby reported good sales.

Meanwhile, the city’s biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration, organized by Casa Puebla New York, filled Queens’ Flushing Meadows Park with mariachis, clowns, and famous singers and Mexican bands, as José Acosta reports.

Jaime Lucero, president and founder of Casa Puebla New York and the festival’s organizer, said that the event, although Mexican, seeks to attract all Latinos. “Our goal is that we join together to share our traditions, our food, our joy and our music,” he said.

“We also want politicians to see that our community is big and united, and must be taken into account,” Lucero added.

The motto of the event, which last year attracted a half million people, is: “Community development, focusing mainly on three axes: Economic power, political power and education,” said Lucero. “We are also constantly lobbying for immigration reform in the U.S. Congress.”

Mexican crooner Cristian Castro performing at the Cinco de Mayo  festival at Flushing Meadows Park (Photo by Victor M. Matos via El Diario).

Mexican crooner Cristian Castro performing at the Cinco de Mayo festival at Flushing Meadows Park. (Photo by Victor M. Matos via El Diario)

The article mentions several festival highlights, among them attractions for children like “payasita (little clown) Lucky,” and other local artists like the child Natalie Jane, “who sang Texan music, and the brothers Alfredo and Christopher Covarrubias, who sang ‘México Lindo y Querido’ accompanied by mariachi group Mendoza.”

Also participating were Pee Wee, K-Paz de la Sierra, Ballet Maya, Ballet Nuevo Amanecer, and famous Mexican crooner Cristian Castro, “who sang some José José songs.”

Aside from Mexicans, the audience included people from El Salvador, Ecuador, Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico. This is the case of fighter Michael Bolivio, who wore his mask and a champion’s belt.

“My father is Mexican and my mother Puerto Rican, and since I was raised in Puerto Rico I come to the festival every year to enjoy Mexican culture,” said Bolivio.

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  1. Pingback: News - May 2014 | East Harlem Preservation

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