News Column

Cinco de Mayo Has Become Annual Party North of the Border

May 3, 2013

The first thing producers tend to mention is that Cinco de Mayo (May 5) is not to be confused with Mexico's true Independence Day of 16 Septembre (Sept. 16.)

While other businesses have given it a shot from time to time, the ownership and crew of radio station KTXQ (Magic 93.7 FM) has built each year's Cinco de Mayo into a continually growing celebration.

Cinco de Mayo was gradually reduced to a minor holiday in Mexico -- while, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo is viewed as a reason to celebrate.

At website history.com, Cinco de Mayo is described as having "evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage, particularly in areas with large Mexican-American populations."

Radio station Magic 93.7 began celebrating Cinco de Mayo on a yearly basis in the early 1990s, said the station's program director, Eddie Moreno. They moved it to the spacious Panhandle-South Plains Fairgrounds seven years ago.

That's where this year's celebration -- presented by Magic 93.7 and Telemundo -- will take place from noon to 11:30 p.m. Saturday. Officials chose May 4 instead of the fifth of May so that more people could attend.

This is the 16th year publicist Christy Martinez-Garcia has worked at the Cinco de Mayo celebration. The station, she said, has developed a stellar reputation for fun and safety, and has been able to book big names.

The first five bands all are popular local and regional acts, and the closing five acts, playing from 6:15 to approximately 11:30 p.m. are hot national recording acts: Massore, Shelly Lares, K1, David Mares and La Calma.

Moreno pointed out, "El Grupo Massore is the hottest act in Mexico and the U.S. And yet, they will be here in Lubbock, not Dallas, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Chicago or even Monterrey. This is a major feather in our caps."

Martinez and Moreno both mentioned the rising interest in the car show held during Cinco de Mayo. Those wanting to register or ask about the car show should call Jesse Valdez at 438-4845.

For the first time in more than 30 years, the Cinco de Mayo Parade will return, thanks to a group of investing businesses.

It will begin at First Baptist Church, travel east on Broadway to Avenue M, then continue north on Avenue M to the Lubbock Memorial Civic Center parking lot.

Martinez-Garcia said, "The parade is collectively put together and supported by a number of organizations including LULAC Council No. 263, St. Joseph's Church and college student groups, as well as in-kind contributions from Hispanic media including Latino Lubbock Magazine, West Texas Hispanic News, El Editor, Power 106 (KEJS), Magic 93.7, Univision, and Radio Tri Color.

Martinez-Garcia said Thursday, "So far we have car clubs, a church group riding horses, a mariachi group, ballet folklorico, Girl Scouts, fraternities, sororities, student groups and we're still getting calls."

Why celebrate?

Mexico had earlier won its independence from Spain with years of bloody fighting.

Cinco de Mayo instead is in memory of the small Mexican force, led by Texas-born General Ignacio Zaragoza, that defeated much larger, better-trained French soldiers on May 5, 1862.

In 1861, Benito Juarez took control of a Mexico in financial ruin. He had no choice but to default on European debts. In response, angry leaders in Spain, Britain and France ordered their naval forces to Veracruz, where they were to demand reimbursement.

The British and Spain re-negotiated and their men sailed back home.

But the French, under orders from Napoleon III, attempted to claim Mexico as its own foreign empire.

Months later, a well-armed French fleet, carrying thousands of soldiers, landed with the intention of forcing Juarez to resign or retreat.

History.com claims that 6,000 French soldiers were led by General Charles Latrille de Lorencez, preparing to attack Puebla de Los Angeles.

Juarez rounded up 2,000 loyal Mexicans, indigenous or of mixed ancestry, and sent them to Puebla to be led by Zaragoza.

His strategy and unexpected assault forced the French to retreat.

Crawfish war

Moreno said that the Magic 93.7 offices once were located at 904 E. Broadway. The undeveloped area to the rear of radio station was called the "Big Back Yard."

Many shows, including the first Cinco de Mayo concerts, were held there.

"Man, there are some crazy memories, too," said Moreno. "For example, for three years, a Texas Tech fraternity hosted their Crawfish Festival one week before Cinco.

"Cleaning crews did the best they could. But being down in the Mackenzie State Park canyon with little ventilation, the crawfish smell lingered for weeks -- not to mention all the crawfish skeletons that were left behind.

"For a while, I thought the next Cinco battle being commemorated was going to be relived against a Tech fraternity."

Attendance grows

Regardless of crawfish skeletons, Cinco de Mayo attendance grew.

In the early 2000s, radio officials moved the annual celebration to the Lone Star Amphitheater on East 19th Street.

"But in 2006," said Moreno, "we moved the event to the fairgrounds. That gives us more room, as well as better opportunities to grow the event."

Jennifer Martinez, assistant program director at Magic 93.7, said it is obvious that listeners look forward to the event.

"People plan to attend every year," she said. "This is a must-attend attraction. Can't miss Cinco!"

She emphasized the need to gear each event for families. "That's why we rely not just on the all-day concert. We make sure we have enough for the kids to do, like with bouncers, face painting and other activities."

Ticket prices are kept low for an all day festivity, especially if purchased in advance. The cost doubles on the day of the show.


For more stories covering arts and entertainment, please see HispanicBusiness' Arts & Entertainment Channel



Source: (c) 2013 the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (Lubbock, Texas) Distributed by MCT Information Services


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