By Helena Rodriguez: PNT Staff Writer
No Cinco de Mayo would be complete without the breaking of piñatas, colorful Mexican ballet folklorico dancers and plenty of festive fiesta foods.
Hundreds of people attended the Portales Cinco de Mayo celebration at Lindsey Park on Saturday which featured all of the above, plus performances by Native American dancers from Farmington and brought in by Eastern New Mexico University, Christian songs by Antoinette Urioste, a performance by the Unbreakable rap group, Spanish songs by Andy Mason and more.
“Some people think Cinco de Mayo is just for Hispanics, but it’s for everyone and we tried to include the whole community,” said Veda Urioste, deputy clerk for the City of Portales and a member of the Cultural Affairs Committee which sponsored the event.
Urioste said attendance at the annual city celebration, which is co-sponsored by ENMU, has steadily grown since organizers moved the event a few years ago from the Memorial Building at City Park to the Lindsey Park location in north Portales.
“When we had it at the Memorial Building, a lot of parents could not bring their children, but now at Lindsey Park, we are within walking distance to a lot of them,” Urioste said. “And the thing that we enjoy seeing a lot of is seeing the kids get involved,” she added.
Children from Dolores Garcia and Elvira Iturralde’s classes at R.M. James Elementary and Valencia Elementary Schools dressed in colorful Mexican attire and performed traditional Mexican ballet folklorico dances such as “El Jarabe Tapatio,” more commonly known as “The Mexican Hat Dance.” Youth also participated in other events such as the lowrider car and bicycle competitions.
Portales Junior High School Class President, Raymond Ornelas Jr., won first place in the bicycle competition for his purple masterpiece which he said he has been trying to perfect since 2001.
“Working on my bike is one of my favorite hobbies,” said Ornelas, who noted that he has won awards in other area bicycle competitions. “I brought my bike here today to show off, but I’m more here for the community, to celebrate Cinco de Mayo,” he added. “I think it is important to celebrate this holiday because it shows our culture.”
Ornelas said that customizing lowriders is a hobby for everyone, however he noted that the majority of lowrider cars and bicycles are owned by Mexican Americans.
Another bicycle enthusiast, Cesar Cano, also a student at PJHS, won third place for his bicycle. “I ride my bicycle around sometimes. It’s for riding, but mostly for show,” Cano said.
Earlier in the day, a breakfast was held featuring guest speaker Dr. Julie Rosa Lopez-Emslie, a longtime dean and professor at ENMU before her retirement a few years ago. Lopez-Emslie explained the history of Cinco de Mayo which commemorates a small Mexican army’s defeat of a much larger French army in Puebla, Mexico, on May 5, 1862.
Portales City Clerk Joan Martinez Terry, said moving the Cinco de Mayo celebration to Lindsey Park was the best idea they’ve had and she hopes that the annual event will continue to grow. “Next year we’d like to get some money together to bring in some mariachis,” Martinez Terry said.