Community celebrates 100 years of Cinco de Mayo festivals in Omaha

Updated: Jun. 13, 2021 at 5:50 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - For 100 years, Omaha has celebrated Cinco de Mayo with an annual parade and days-long festival featuring music, dancing, carnival rides, and food.

Last year’s celebration was canceled due to the pandemic, and organizers didn’t want to cancel twice in a row. So they pushed this year’s event back until now.

“You know, the first Mexican festival was documented in 1920, so it’s always been along historic 24th Street so we’re just having our annual Cinco de Mayo festival even though it’s in June,” says Marcos Mora, an event coordinator for Cinco de Mayo Omaha.

“This is normally one of Omaha’s biggest events and festivals that normally generates about a quarter-million people in three days from about six states,” Mora says.

In a normal year, the event will also generate more than $7 million for the local economy. Businesses in the area say the fiesta is huge for them, especially after such a difficult year.

“It’s like one of our days, you know it’s a lot of opportunities for us and we meet new people and then like, of course, the sales,” says Marina Gonzalez, a local vendor selling classic Mexican clothing and décor.

“The festival brings thousands of people and thousands of dollars into small business owners like ours, we’re really excited to be able to be back in person of course,” says Itzel Lopez and her sister, Dayana.

The two own the Maria Bonita food truck and Toximiche. Although this year’s event is slightly smaller than the year’s past, the community turnout has been overwhelming.

“We didn’t expect this much people, we didn’t,” Gonzalez tells 6 News. “We’re really happy and excited about it.”

The fiesta, which commemorates the Mexican army’s victory over France during the Franco-Mexican War in 1862, has turned into an event that celebrates other Latino heritage and culture as well.

“You know celebrating 100 years of the festival reminds us how engraved our Hispanic heritage is in this community and if you haven’t made business with our Hispanic community, it’s about time to support small business owners specifically the Hispanic as they become the largest minority in the next few years,” Lopez says.

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