23rd Street hosts Cinco de Mayo Festival
Published: Thursday, May 10, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, May 22, 2012 19:05
RICHMOND — Thousands of family members and friends strolled along Richmond’s lively 23rd Street beneath the warm sun to take part in the sixth annual Cinco de Mayo Festival on Sunday.
The festival, themed “A Mile of Smiles,” spanned some 11 blocks and included three music stages, dozens of food booths and various attractions for children.
“I think (the event) is better every year,” said John Márquez, who is a Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board Trustee and co-founder of the festival. “There were more families — more mothers pushing strollers, more fathers pushing strollers. It’s really neat; it’s not always been in our culture to do that.”
Márquez said the key to keeping the event non-violent and creating a family atmosphere is enforcing a strict no alcohol policy.
“We have security and police all over the place,” he said. “Anyone with bad intentions, they are taken out.”
Spirits remained high throughout the event, and hordes of people displayed their pride for Mexican culture by wearing their country’s flag and colors.
Middle College High School student Alex Hale said the festival emitted an immense feeling of happiness.
“Everyone was so united and all the kids and families were having a good time,” Hale said.
Attendees flocked to the music stages and danced to live performances of mariachi and banda artists. Along with the artists were dancers adorned in brightly colored traditional dresses executing intricate moves to the music.
Large crowds gathered to watch horses dance to live music along the street as well.
The festival catered greatly to children by offering numerous party jumpers, train rides and a mechanical bull.
A Richmond-based car club called Raza Unida set up a car show made up of classic low rider cars in front of the Rancho Supermarket on Wendell Avenue.
Richmond Police Lt. Andre Hill said police officers patrolled the event from its beginning at 10 a.m. to its ending at 5 p.m.
“Overall, the event was peaceful,” Hill said. “We deployed a large number of officers and spread ourselves out big with officers on motorcycles, dirt bikes and on foot. That assures a police presence and shows there will be no tolerance for violence.”
Antioch resident Caroline Andreasen said she enjoyed looking at the cars and purchased various items of food from the booths, from tacos to churros.
Márquez said there were many more booths selling food than in previous years.
“The restaurants were all doing great as well, there was no threat to any businesses,” he said.
Hosted by the 23rd Street Merchant Association, the festival was held in connection with a Cinco de Mayo parade on Saturday.
“Peace and Unity” was the theme of the two-mile parade, which was held from 10 a.m. to noon. The parade, led by this year’s grand marshall Rep. George Miller, set out from 24th Street and Barrett Avenue in Richmond and continued along 23rd Street to the San Pablo Civic Center.
“There were over 1,000 participants in the parade on Saturday with 65 entries including six floats, music, local schools, soccer leagues, 40 classic cars and 70 horses brought all the way from LA,” Márquez said.