If the Mexican army had not beaten the French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862, we might be celebrating Cinq Mai with a plate of fromage and a bottle of wine, which wouldn’t exactly be bad… but not nearly as much fun as chips, salsa and a shot of tequila.
Here’s a roundup of Cinco de Mayo events throughout the Southland, with nary a baguette in sight:
April 30 12:00 PM – 10:00 PM
Santa Ana Cinco de Mayo Festival
Downtown Santa Ana
Santa Ana, CA
Downtown Santa Ana will be party central the entire weekend, as the city hosts an expected 150,000 attendees over two days for this free family event. Live performers include Ozomatli, Fobia, Mexican Institute of Sound (MIS), Gustavo Galinda, and Ceci Bastida. There will be plenty of food, carnival rides and games.
May 1 2:00 – 8:00 PM
Cinco De Mayo Cultural Art and Music Festival
Myrtle Ave. and Colorado Blvd.
Monrovia, CA 91016
This new family event is being billed by its organizers as the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the San Gabriel Valley, who describe it as “festive block party with educational and cultural exhibits, musical performances from Grammy-award winning entertainers.”
The evening culminates with music by the all-female Mariachi Divas, 2008 Best Mexican Regional Album. Other performers include Los Fabulocos, the Banda Brothers, and Folklorico and Oaxacan dance troupes.
And of course, there will be a food court where visitors can sample the fare from local Mexican restaurants.
May 1 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Single de Mayo
Private Residence in Hancock Park
667 S. June St.
Los Angeles, CA 90005
Single women have been shouting “Ole!” at this annual charity event since 1999. There will be dancing, barbecue, a fashion show, date auction and long lines at the bar (where there will likely be plenty of killer margaritas). This year’s proceeds will benefit the Los Angeles-based organization JQ International, which offers safe school training and support for LGBT youth.
$20 online; $25 at the door – $75 VIP admission (includes two free drinks and gift bag)
May 5 7:00 PM
Cinco de Mayan
The Mayan Theater
1038 S. Hill St.
Los Angeles, CA
Leave the kids at home and take the Metro downtown. The folks who bring you Lucha VaVoom Mexican wrestling are having this “cinco-delic party” at the historic Mayan Theater. Your $45 admission will allow you an audience with Aztec Dancers, mariachis, Bandida Folkloricos, burlesque performers and Lucha star Sicodelico. And the promoters promise plenty of tequila, cerveza and tamales.
May 7 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Corona Cinco de Mayo
Corona City Park
930 E. Sixth St.
Corona, CA 92879
Corona’s answer to Pasadena’s Tournament of Roses kicks off its annual celebration at 10:00 AM with a parade down Sixth Street. The parade features Mexican dancers, marching bands, local youth groups and a contingent of colorful vehicles, including antique cars and low-riders.
Like Pasadena, the highlight of the procession will be the appearance of the young women who vying for a scholarship and the title of Queen of the Parade (a tradition with roots that go back to 1924). The Queen will be crowned in Corona City Park, at the fiesta immediately following the parade. Entertainment will be provided by mariachis, Folklorico dancers, salsa and rock bands and more. There will also be a kids’ fun zone with bounce houses, ponies and game booths.
May 8 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Downtown Los Angeles
Information: (310) 914-0015
Good luck navigating downtown this weekend, with a mile of Los Angeles city streets closed for this free family event, which attracts a staggering number of people (half a million are expected). It’s no wonder the organizers bill Fiesta Broadway as the world’s largest Cinco de Mayo festival.
Musical acts begin at 11:20 on two different stages, located on either ends of the festival on Broadway, so it may make sense to look at the schedule and stake out a spot accordingly. Ozomatli will headline at 4:30 on the Red Bull Stage, located on the west end of the street… with Diana Reyes, taking the KWHY-TV Stage on the east at 5:00.
And with so many attendees, it’s not a surprising that up to 100 exhibitors will also be on hand, along with plenty of food stalls (but no alcohol).
Donna Schwartz Mills becomes Mexican on Cinco de Mayo, if she hasn’t already from growing up in Los Angeles. She blogs at SoCal Mom.