Sonoma celebrates Cinco de Mayo

One hundred and 57 years ago on May 5, a ragtag band of Mexican troops rose up against well-armed French soldiers and bested them in the Battle of Puebla. Despite inferior weaponry, despite being grossly out-manned, despite the superior playbook of Napoleon III, the Mexicans stood their ground and sent the French packing.

The date has served as a kind of shorthand ever since, a metaphor for Mexican determination and grit.

In Sonoma, May 5 is marked with a day-long celebration, a seven-hour carnival organized by the La Luz Center. On Sunday, the festival will take over the Plaza from noon until 7 p.m. with activities the whole family, Mexican or otherwise , can enjoy.

Dubbed the “Fiesta for Education,” proceeds from this year’s event will fund scholarships for eligible seniors graduating from Sonoma Valley High School. The masters of ceremony - Neil Pacheco of “What’s Cookin’ Sonoma County” and Vianey Saligan, aka La Chica Dinamita - will use the radio chops they’ve honed at La Morenita FM to keep the energy high and the crowds organized.

The Impala Car Club will be in force with a fleet of tricked-out rides for the public to ogle.

In the “Cantina Garden,” pints of Lagunitas beer will be served, along with Puente International’s tequila-based Palomas. Food trucks will offer a variety of good eats, including decadent chicharrones. For the kids, there will be arts and crafts, games, and a mobile video game truck stocked with virtual fun.

Ballet Folklorico is scheduled to perform, and a mariachi band will play all the favorites. At the close of the evening, music by Banda Valle Alegre will get the crowd on its feet to wrap up the evening with a baile (dance).

La Luz will highlight its contributions to the Latino Community Foundation campaign to encourage Latino participation in the 2020 U.S. Census. “Although Census Day isn’t until April 1, 2020, we want to begin to promote the importance of participating in the census survey,” said La Luz community engagement manager Angie Sanchez. “Latinos have been undercounted for decades. It is our duty to educate and engage the community in what we know to be the most inclusive civic activity in our country regardless of your immigration status.”

Called “To Resist We Must Exist,” the campaign is fundamental to the foundation’s expressed goal of “safeguarding our democracy for this and future generations.”

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