By: Ava Bleifuss
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated by many people in the United States. Cinco de Mayo means “Fifth of May” in Spanish. It is the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla in 1862. It was a very important battle, and a great military victory because the Mexicans defeated the French, led by Napoleon III, who had one of the biggest and strongest armies. That is why some people mistakenly think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexican Independence Day, but that holiday is celebrated on September 16.
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in the state of Puebla in Mexico, but not throughout Mexico. It has become very popular in the United States as a way for Mexican immigrants to celebrate their Mexican heritage. Cinco de Mayo is celebrated on the West Side of St. Paul, and along Lake St. in Minneapolis. Both celebrations are filled with parades, dances, music, food, and fun.
The Cinco de Mayo festival on the West Side of Saint Paul started in 1985. It was started by community members and business owners who wanted to celebrate the West Side community. The West Side of St. Paul has been a gathering place for Mexican immigrants since World War I. Many of them were migrant workers who stayed to work year round for the railroads, local shops, and factories.
Some Mexican families have been here for over 100 years. Some of the oldest businesses on the West Side are the restaurant Boca Chica and the grocery store and restaurant, El Burrito Mercado. The area around these restaurants is called District del Sol, which means “District of the Sun” in Spanish. This area usually hosts one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States, but this year it has been postponed due to COVID.
Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated along Lake St. in Minneapolis since 1997. It includes a parade, music, food, and events happening all along East Lake St. from 2nd Ave South to Portland Ave. This year, the organizers expect over 70,000 people to attend, making it the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in Minnesota.