While today is officially Cinco de Mayo, and area Mexican restaurants will probably see a little uptick in business (as will liquor stores—it’s a perfect night for margaritas on the patio!), the real Cinco de Mayo celebration will take place this Saturday, May 7, on the West Side of St. Paul, specifically in the District del Sol area, directly across the river from downtown St. Paul.
This celebration is not only the largest Hispanic/Latino event in the state, it was named by USA Today as one of the “10 Best Places to Celebrate Cinco de Mayo” in the country. Yep, we’re kind of a big deal here in Minnesota.
Why, though, is Cinco de Mayo so widely celebrated in the U.S.? Contrary to popular belief, this is not Mexico’s Independence Day. It commemorates the triumph of the Mexican army at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Mexico, then a young nation, banded as a unified front to defend itself against France—then considered the greatest military force on the globe—and against all odds, they won. Over time, this date has become a way to celebrate Mexican culture, pride, and independence.
In Minnesota, we celebrate Mexican pride, culture, and independence at Cinco de Mayo West Side with a parade down Cesar Chavez from Wabasha to Ada, starting at 10 a.m., the Menudo 5K Family Fun Run and Walk, food, food, and more food, margaritas, beer, a jalapeño eating contest, a community village (authentic “placita” market in Parque Castillo where you can treasure hunt for handmade arts and crafts, jewelry, t-shirts, airbrush, second-hand items, seedlings, produce and more), a family area, a sports zone, a low-rider car show, and lots of free entertainment. Best of all? There’s no fee to enter the festival.
Parking is available in the El Burrito Mercado lot, in the Wellstone ramp (197 Robie St.), in the Red Cross lot (176 Robert St.), and in Keefe Co. lot (137 S. Robert St.). On-street parking is very limited. Metro Transit rides are by downloading this pass. (Use the bus stop on Robert Street near Boca Chica.)
For more information, visit cincodemayosaintpaul.com.