Celebrating Cinco de Mayo Omaha style

Pinata float at Cinco de Mayo parade

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.

Kids walking in Cinco de Mayo parade

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.

A father and son were among the parade viewers.
A father and son were among the parade viewers.

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.

Kids loved the candy being thrown out at the Cinco de Mayo parade

Colorful dresses were on display as women of all ages performed cultural dances along the way.

Dazzling costumes on display at Cinco de Mayo parade

Dance groups also recognized historical groups, including Aztec.

Aztec dancers at the Cinco de Mayo parade

Girls dressed in Quinceanera dresses walked along the parade route.

Quinceanara dresses

The dancing wasn’t restricted to Latin America. A couple of drum and drill teams participated.

Drill teams came down the Cinco de Mayo parade route

Floats included a cement truck that was decorated in pink, to support breast cancer awareness.

Cement truck in pink to support breast cancer awareness at Cinco de Mayo parade

A man sang songs on another float.

Singer belts out a tune on float at Cinco de Mayo parade

A mariachi band stood atop a float and performed their music.

Mariachi band on top of float at Cinco de Mayo parade

Local businesses advertised their wares on several floats, from hair stylists to car sound systems.

Various companies had floats of their own in the Cinco de Mayo parade

Throughout the parade route, street vendors worked the crowd, selling items from Mexican flags, inflatables and food.

Vendors sold their wares at the Cinco de Mayo parade

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.

Cheerleaders march down the street at the Cinco de Mayo parade

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.

Mexican Cowboys during the Cinco de Mayo parade

One Vaquero performed tricks with his lasso.

Mexican cowboy doing lasso tricks at Cinco de Mayo parade

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.

Running of the bulls before the Cinco de Mayo parade

Omaha’s Finest opened the parade with a five-wide motorcycle team.

Police motorcycles start the Cinco de Mayo parade

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!