By Leslie Radford: CNJ staff writer
Cinco de Mayo, Spanish for “The Fifth Of May,” commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at The Battle Of Puebla in 1862. It has become increasingly popular in the U.S. among those with a Hispanic background. It’s celebrated by family and friends through Mexican culture that includes food, music, beverages and customs unique to Mexico, according to www.mexonline.com.
“The celebration in America, I believe, started in the 1960s in Los Angeles where (Mexican-Americans) wanted to celebrate their heritage with others,” said Christy Mendoza with Clovis Community College’s cultural affairs department.
Mendoza said she is inspired by the small Mexican army that defeated a larger, much more powerful French army in one battle.
“It was that little bit of ganas (desire) that led a people to be free,” she said. “It symbolizes how the Mexicans and Chicanos have proved to themselves ‘I can do this.’”
To carry on the tradition of the sharing of the deep-rooted heritage with others, the Office of Cultural Affairs at CCC hopes to bring the Clovis community together to celebrate on May 7 at the American Legion Post 25, 2400 W. Seventh St. in Clovis.
With local entertainment that expresses the Mexican culture through music and dance, piñatas for the children and food sponsored by local Mexican restaurants, Mendoza said everyone is in for a good time.
“I know people’s mothers and grandmothers who will be there just to dance,” she said.
That includes Mendoza’s mother, Mary Mendoza, who remembers celebrating Cinco de Mayo with her parents and 10 siblings as a little girl — something she had not done until her daughter got involved with coordinating the Cinco de Mayo activities at CCC, in its third year now.
“I haven’t got to celebrate in a long time,” said the 80-year-old Clovis woman, who Mendoza said was recently dancing around her house excited about the event.
Mary Mendoza said the way Cinco de Mayo is celebrated today is different than when she grew up celebrating it mostly with her family.
“My father always told me there was enough of us kids to play with, we didn’t need to invite anyone else,” she said. “But it’s so much fun to be there (at the Cinco de Mayo event) with my family and my friends. (Cinco de Mayo) is really all about being together … coming together.”