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A Hot Time at Cinco de Mayo Fiestas


Mariachi bands, folk dancing, carnival rides and record-breaking temperatures greeted thousands of Mexican-Americans who turned out on Saturday to celebrate Cinco de Mayo events in Southern California's predominantly Latino communities.

The largest event was at Olvera Street downtown, where Mexican food and entertainment was to be provided all day Saturday and Sunday. Sunny weather that sent temperatures up to 101 kept daytime crowds at the birthplace of the original Mexican pueblo of Los Angeles relatively small and unusually subdued.

"There were a lot of people downtown, but the heat seemed to mellow them out," said Los Angeles Police Detective Phil Anninos. "When it's this hot, people don't move too fast."

As evening cooled, the crowd swelled to more than 10,000.

Four people were arrested at a Cinco de Mayo protest held in front of an Immigration and Naturalization Service detention center for illegal aliens at 1115 S. Alvarado St., authorities said.

Three people were arrested for vandalism and one person was arrested for interfering with an arrest during the protest, which drew a crowd of about 20 people who "pounded" on the front door of the center, LAPD Sgt. Bob Freet said.

A spokesman for La Resistencia, a pro-immigrant organization, said the protest was "against the concentration camp at that location."

"Basically, we had a picket line and speeches," George Banesh said. "Obviously, Cinco de Mayo is an important day of revolt against repressions and we are following suit to let the prisoners (in the detention center) go."

Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of an underdog band of Mexican peasants against a much larger force of French troops on May 5, 1862, at Puebla, Mex. The Mexican victory has become a source of pride among people of Mexican heritage throughout the Los Angeles area.

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