Cinco de Mayo will fill the streets on Sunday

Juan Carlos Navarro, left, is the Cinco de Mayo festival's coordinator and leader of a group of about 25 Kennett Square residenets who organized this year's Cinco de Mayo festival. One of the festival's primary sponsors is Casa Guanajuato, who president is Katherine Snyder, right.

The Mexican defeat on May 5, 1862 ("Cinco de Mayo"), of French forces occupying Mexico will be celebrated on State Street in downtown Kennett Square for the 10th consecutive year this Sunday, May 2.

Planners for this year's festival believe attendance will be even higher than in previous years. Kathleen Snyder is president of Casa Guanajauto, the festival's sponsoring organization. She said, "Beginning with the ceremony to honor the Mexican and American flags, we have a four-hour program of Mexican music and culture. We will offer many forms of entertainment, and all of it is family oriented."

Snyder also said that food is a key focus of the event. "All of the food is authentic Mexican fare. And some food preparers are also entertainers. The butcher from El Sombrero on Route 41 is a fabulous singer," she said.

@hedc:The program

@bod:The festival will begin at noon with welcoming words and a patriotic focus on Mexican and American flags and anthems. At about 12:40 p.m., Senorita Cinco de Mayo will be crowned. A special presentation will be made by Ilia Garcia, TV news anchor for Univision 65.

After the coronation, the following schedule of events evoking the culture and music of Mexico will occur:

12:50 p.m. - Family folk dancing by Grupo Folklorico Yaretzi

1:20 p.m. - Mariachi Suriano

2:20 p.m. - The parade of senoritas in traditional Mexican dresses

3:40 p.m. - Singer Miriam Dominguez

3:55 p.m. - Champion soccer team

4 p.m. - Singer Vani Hernandez

4:20 p.m. - Dancers Yahaira Serrano

4:25 p.m. - Folk dancing by Citalli de Mexico

Juan Carlos Navarro, the coordinator and lead organizer of Kennett Square's Cinco de Mayo festival, said, "With the nice spring weather in the forecast, we hope our program and the offerings of our 60 vendors will be enjoyed not only by many people of Mexican heritage but also by others interested in Mexican food, music, and culture."

Navarro also said, "Because all the food is donated, the students who work to prepare and sell the food will keep all keep their sales dollars as payment for their services."

@hedc:Background

@bod:Since 2006, Kennett Square's Cinco de Mayo festival has been planned and supported by Casa Guanajuato, an organization of Mexican-Americans that promotes Mexican culture and traditions through educational programs and helps to better integrate immigrants into American society.

Founded in 2003, Casa Guanajuato in Kennett Square is one of 53 similar organizations across the United States. Its members are Mexican immigrants and it receives support from the government of the State of Guanajuato in Mexico. Guanajuato also sends artists, musicians, and teachers to support the programs. Although many immigrants in our area come from Guanajuato, members of Casa Guanajuato are from many different parts of Mexico.

Casa Guanajuato's activities include workshops, lectures, and round table discussions on many subjects such as Day of the Dead, Posadas, and 16th of September (Independence Day). The organization has also collaborated with West Chester University in "The Big Read" project and participated in Bi-National Health Week, Memorial Day Parade, and the Martin Luther King breakfast.

Cinco de Mayo: an important date in Mexican history

@hedc:History

@bod:Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of the Mexican Army over the French at the Battle of Puebla. Although the Mexican army was eventually defeated, the "Batalla de Puebla" came to represent a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism. With this victory, Mexico demonstrated to the world that Mexico and all of Latin America were willing to defend themselves from foreign intervention.

Cinco de Mayo's history dates to the French occupation of Mexico that began in the aftermath of the Mexican-American War of 1846-48. Years of not only fighting the Americans but also a civil war had left Mexico devastated and bankrupt. On July 17, 1861, President Benito Juarez declared that Mexico would suspend all foreign debt payments for two years.

To obtain what was owed them, English, Spanish, and French forces invaded Mexico; but only the French stayed for long. Their intention was to create an Empire in Mexico under Napoleon III. However, on May 5, 1862, General Ignacio Zaragoza's 5,000 ill-equipped Mestizo and Zapotec Indians defeated the French in the Batalla de Puebla.

In the United States, this battle came to be known as simply "Cinco de Mayo" and many people wrongly equate it with Mexican Independence, which occurred when Mexico declared its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810, nearly 50 years earlier.

Cinco de Mayo festivals have become very popular and many people see this holiday as a time for fun and dance. Cinco de Mayo is more of a Mexican-American holiday than strictly a Mexican one, with the celebrations being much larger here than in Mexico.

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