In just a few years, Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads Cinco de Mayo celebration has become the biggest in the city. Organizers hope it will one day be counted as one of the biggest in the nation.
The free OKC Cinco de Mayo festival begins noon Sunday outside Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads, 7000 Crossroads Blvd. Crowds in excess of 15,000 are expected.
OKC Cinco de Mayo has earned its following in part because it represents an authentic celebration of the holiday commemorating Mexicos surprising victory over France in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Traditional food, dance music and culture true to the Puebla region of Mexico will all be there for the public to enjoy.
This year, the festival is introducing a carnival component featuring 22 rides, fair food and a full-sized Ferris wheel. The rides opened outside Plaza Mayor in mid-April and will remain open through the day of the festival.
This is all in anticipation that this will become a multiple-day celebration, said Plaza Mayor Marketing Manager Robert Ruiz.
In establishing OKC Cinco de Mayo as a fun family destination, Ruiz said he hopes to continue to build up the cultural components of the festival that he and others in the Hispanic community are so passionate about.
Part of the reason the celebration at Plaza Mayor has set itself apart is due to Oklahoma Citys unique status as a sister city to Puebla, Mexico. In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is not celebrated nationwide. The one place where it is celebrated in a big way is Puebla.
Realizing there was no large-scale Cinco de Mayo festival in the city, Ruiz and other organizers sought to take advantage of Oklahoma Citys ties with Puebla and create the most authentic celebration in the nation.
OKC Cinco de Mayo wants to show that the holiday can be enjoyed in more ways than just drinking.
Even though people can enjoy an adult beverage at this festival, its not the only reason [to celebrate], Ruiz said.
Through relationships Plaza Mayor has formed, Ruiz said it has been able to bring in many different artists, dancers and dignitaries from Puebla and seek guidance on customs appropriate for the event.
For a lot of municipalities across the United States, they sometimes struggle with how to really capitalize on their sister city relationships beyond just saying that we have this diplomatic tie and its kind of a feel-good thing, he said. I think here in Oklahoma City, we have a chance to create a real exchange with our sister city that could benefit the entire community.
Its an exciting time for Plaza Mayor and the relatively young Hispanic community in Oklahoma City. Cultural traditions dont stretch back nearly as far here as they do in cities like San Antonio. Ruiz said part of the goal with OKC Cinco de Mayo is to establish a tradition in the community that could be around for decades to come.
Its a little bit of a golden age right now because theres a lot of pioneering things that are happening right now in the Hispanic community, he said. There are a lot of things that are happening for the first time.
Ruiz said because no other city can claim such a close tie with Puebla, Oklahoma City is in a unique position to establish itself as a travel destination nationwide for those looking for a unique observation of the historic battle.
I would definitely love for this to one day be a multiple-day event in which over 100,000 people are coming to it, not only from all over Oklahoma but from all over the United States, he said.
OKC Cinco de Mayo
Noon-9 p.m. May 1
Plaza Mayor at the Crossroads
7000 Crossroads Blvd.
Dancing in the Gardens: Cinco de Mayo Kick Off with Salsa Night
7 p.m. May 5
Myriad Botanical Gardens
301 W. Reno Ave.
Dancing in the Gardens runs May to September, and Myriad Botanical Gardens kicks off the series with a Cinco de Mayo celebration. Instructors from 3Sixty Dance Studio give a dance demonstration at 7 p.m. followed by a free lesson. Salsa music will be pumped in at 8 p.m. Drink and food specials also will be offered.
Cinco de Mayo at Calle dos Cinco
6-10 p.m. May 6
Calle Dos Cinco
319 SW 25th St.
Historic Capitol Hills board of directors brings back its Cinco de Mayo celebration after a successful first year. Visitors can walk the districts main street and browse shops. A variety of food trucks will provide food and drink. Dance demonstrations and salsa instruction will be available. There will be plenty of activities for children, including games by OKC Energy FC and Party Galaxy and a youth boxing exhibition by Rival Boxing Gym OKC.
Cinco de Mayo at Iguana Mexican Grill
9 NW Ninth St.
Iguana Grill is a local option for chips and queso this Cinco de Mayo. The restaurant has become a favorite gathering place for locals celebrating Mexican victory in the Battle of Puebla or any other worthy occasion. This holiday, Iguana features live bands, DJs and food and drink specials.
Cinco de Mayo Mexican Night: Edible Adventures
6-10 p.m. May 5
Platt College OKC North Campus
2727 W. Memorial Road
Platt College Moore Campus
201 N. Eastern Ave., Moore
Theres more to Mexican cooking than tacos and burritos. Platt College proves that this Cinco de Mayo with instructional courses on Mexican cooking techniques as part of its Edible Adventures series. The classes make a fun date night alternative to grabbing a margarita or cerveza in a loud and crowded restaurant.
Festival 5 de Mayo
5-10:30 p.m. May 6, 2-10:30 p.m. May 7, noon-6:30 p.m. May 8
Imperio Event Center
14007 E. 21st St., Tulsa
Tulsas largest Cinco de Mayo celebration is a multiday festival featuring a carnival atmosphere with live music attractions. Festival 5 de Mayo is organized by the Greater Tulsa Hispanic Chamber of Commerce and celebrates the diverse Hispanic community in Tulsa. About 5,000 people are expected to pass through during the weekend.
Print headline: Puebla partners, Oklahoma Citys relationship with the birthplace of Cinco de Mayo sets its celebration apart.