Viva le Mexico! That chant can be heard loud and clear today, as Mexicans around the globe celebrate Cinco de Mayo (The Fifth of May), a major victory in a war against France long, long ago.
We took in our first Cinco de Mayo parade in South Omaha last weekend. It was the 30th year for the parade in Omaha.
The sights, sounds and smells were exhilarating. People dressed in the national colors of Mexico. People chanting “Viva Le Mexico!” were all around. The food. The food. Dear God, the delicious smell of tamales cooking in corn husks, ready to be eaten. It was a great start to the festivities.
Thousands of people of all ethnicities lined 24th Street for a two-hour parade. The eight-block parade route featured hundreds of participants, from high school marching bands, cheerleaders and soccer teams to floats of all nature.
One of the neat things about parades is when parade participants throw out candy for kids. They received a haul based on the bags of candy we saw being shared. One little kid next to us used his stroller as a makeshift candy storage unit.
Colorful dresses were on display as women of all ages performed cultural dances along the way.
Dance groups also recognized historical groups, including Aztec.
Girls dressed in Quinceanera dresses walked along the parade route.
The dancing wasn’t restricted to Latin America. A couple of drum and drill teams participated.
Floats included a cement truck that was decorated in pink, to support breast cancer awareness.
A man sang songs on another float.
A mariachi band stood atop a float and performed their music.
Local businesses advertised their wares on several floats, from hair stylists to car sound systems.
Throughout the parade route, street vendors worked the crowd, selling items from Mexican flags, inflatables and food.
Middle school cheerleaders took up a bit of a stretch of the street. The Norris Junior High group featured several boys and girls performing cheers.
Vaquroes (Mexican cowboys) closed the parade with their annual ride through South Omaha. The horses they mounted were beautiful. Some of the Vaqueros had trained horses that could dance.
One Vaquero performed tricks with his lasso.
Prior to the start of the parade, participants raced and walked down 24th Street during the first annual “Running of the Bulls” (Omaha style) – people were “chased” by characters wearing bull costumes.
Omaha’s Finest opened the parade with a five-wide motorcycle team.
The Cinco de Mayo parade and celebration are great examples of Omaha’s diverse cultures. We love learning more about our neighborhoods. So, for at least one day a year, we can all celebrate with Mexico. Viva le Mexico!