Denton’s Cinco de Mayo parade wound its way through downtown Saturday morning to the rhythmic sound of maracas.
Presented by the Cinco de Mayo Committee, the festival has been held annually for 27 years and organizers were expecting more than 6,000 people to participate in the daylong event at Quakertown Park.
Cinco de Mayo — the fifth of May — commemorates the victory of the Mexicans over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862.
Luis Martinez said she has been bringing her two granddaughters, Daisy and Chloe Miguel, for a few years. She said their favorite part of the festivities is the parade.
Martinez came from San Luis Potosi, Mexico, to live in Denton more than 20 years ago. Her brothers and one sister were already here when she moved, she said, and the celebration brings her “back home” for a day.
Paradegoers made their way to Quakertown Park for more music and entertainment, as well as to peruse the wares of more than 70 vendors.
While waiting for a turn to showcase their talents on the main stage, Miguel Cantu, director of the Denton school district’s mariachi band, said his group of 15 students had been practicing since December for their performance.
He said the students — ranging from sixth to 12th grade — were set to perform five songs.
“It’s a chance for them to show their talent and let them embrace the culture. Music is a big part of celebrations,” Cantu said.
He said the group meets Monday through Thursday after classes at Calhoun Middle School. While the group is small, he hopes to see the 3 1/2-year-old program grow into a credited class in the future.
Students who are interested in the program must have at least one year of music. For more information, email Cantu at email@example.com.
The festival’s culture and youth involvement are the primary reasons event vice chairwoman Stephanie Santamaria got on board more than two years ago.
“I have two little girls and I wanted them to know the history and culture,” she said. “[Our hope for] today is to have as much of the community come together as possible to enjoy the festival — no matter what race they are.”
And with more promotion this year than last — stretching out to Lewisville, Aubrey and Argyle — Santamaria said she has seen an increase in attendees and entertainment.
“We had to actually tell people, no, we didn’t have time left [to perform],” she said.
Most important, more people are getting introduced to the rich culture that lies within all the regions of Mexico, organizers said.
“I was born and raised here and have been coming for as long as I remember,” Santamaria said. “Now, I just want to continue the tradition so my children will carry it on to their children someday.”
MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.