08 May Richmond Joyfully Welcomes Back Cinco de Mayo Festivities
Story, video and photos by Denis Perez-Bravo
Music, food, families and Mexican pride filled parts of 23rd Street during the Cinco de Mayo weekend in Richmond.
The Peace and Unity Parade and Cinco de Mayo festival made their return after taking the last three years off because of the pandemic.
The parade and festival put local performers, vendors and community organizations in the spotlight. Among those was the Richmond-based Banda Estrella de La Bahia, the closing act on the stage by Rheem Avenue and 23rd Street on Sunday.
“To be part of this event is the best for us. We wait for this event year long,” said Vidal Ramirez, 34, one of the band’s main vocalists and a Richmond resident. “This gives us confidence, and we take advantage of the opportunity.”
The weekend-long festivities began Saturday morning with the 15th Peace and Unity Parade, which is normally held annually.
Dozens of organizations and community groups paraded from 23rd Street and Barrett Avenue in Richmond to Saint Paul’s Church in San Pablo from 10 a.m to noon.
The cloudy skies and scattered rain discouraged large crowds from forming early in the morning, but as the parade got underway, hundreds of people gathered along the streets to watch the festivities.
The parade featured folklórico, a traditional Mexican dance, other dancers, marching bands from Richmond High and DeJean Middle schools, city officials in decorated cars, police and fire department vehicles, old school cars, Mexican regional music performers, and horseback riders called charros.
The 17th annual Cinco de Mayo Festival organized by the 23rd Street Merchants Association continued the celebration Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Scores of vendors lined 23rd Street from Clinton to Rheem avenues offering food, apparel, information on community organizations and attractions such as pony rides, train rides, face painting and crafts.
Along the corridor, there were also live music performances. And two stages were set up at the end of the festival.
The stage by Rheem Avenue and 23rd Street was sponsored by La Raza 93.3 FM and the other by 23rd Street and Clinton Avenue was sponsored by Radio Lazer 1510 AM.
On both stages, starting at 10 a.m., performers were given 45 minutes to move the large crowds that gathered around them.
In 2019, around 100,000 people attended the festivities.
“To me, there were more people this year than last time,” said Gonzalo Ochoa, president of the 23rd Street Merchants Association.
There was a lot of enthusiasm for this event to come back strong, and the organizers received support from all over Richmond.
“Everybody in Richmond put their all into this event,” he said.