Over a Century of Mexican Festivities in Omaha – KVNO News
Over a century of Mexican festivities in Omaha
By Gabriel Escalera, KVNO News
May 11, 2021
Cinco de Mayo moved into June. Photo by KVNO News
OMAHA – In the 1990s, Nebraska was voted number 10 in the country as one of the fastest growing states with an increase in the Latino population.
However, the archive of the Omaha World-Herald newspaper states that the Mexican colony celebrated “Freedom Day” as early as 1920, which referred to the independence day of Mexico on September 16. According to the newspaper, about 500 members of a colony gathered at the Hanscom Park Pavilion and enjoyed traditional Mexican dancing, music and food, much like the Cinco de Mayo celebrations that had taken place in South Omaha.
In 2020, it would be a hundred years since the Mexican community started this type of celebration.
Marcos Mora has been the coordinator of this event for over ten years but has been involved since the late 1990s
“I think a lot of people don’t know by now that Cinco de Mayo is Omaha’s number one biggest festival,” said Mora. “The biggest event that is actually a local event without the World Cup (that’s not local, that’s national), but we’re actually the biggest event in Omaha with a quarter of a million people in three days. Will we get the money for it, no, but after 2019 it will be a huge event and I think people are excited for it to happen again. “
Mora is very familiar with these celebrations as his grandparents were some of the people who were instrumental in developing these celebrations.
“I’ve been involved in Cinco de Mayo as a volunteer since college. Then later on I was in charge of entertainment and marketing and when John Barrientos stepped down … I was the coordinator and I have pictures of my grandparents on 24th St in their 30s, you know, right there at 24th and P. ” Said Mora.
The celebration became more popular on September 16 than on May 5.
Therefore, Mora cannot say that the same festival has been celebrated since 1920, but does recognize that one or the other Mexican holiday has been held in Omaha for more than a century.
Is Cinco de Mayo Mexico’s Independence Day?
Mexico’s Independence Day is celebrated on September 16, which the Mexican colony celebrated in 1920. Cinco de Mayo is an anniversary of the Mexican Army, which defeated the French Army in 1862.
According to Marcos and what his family told him for some reason in the 1970s, Cinco de Mayo became increasingly popular in the United States.
One way or another, Mexican holiday celebrations have been around in Omaha for a long time, and Mora believes this celebration could be recognized nationally.
“There is no other ethnic group that has had this continuity for so long,” said Mora. “I mean, you’ve had the Italians for a while, Santa Lucia, but even this festival is gone, you know, it’s not as big as it used to be.”
This year the committee has postponed the celebration to the weekend of June 10th. Mora spoke about a parade to be held 5 blocks south of Omaha with two stages for music, dance, food and carnival, typical of these festivities in Mexico, among others.
More information about the Cinco de Mayo Festival can be found at www.cincodemayoomaha.com.