Cinco de Mayo celebrations today in Orange County will be far fewer than usual and many will be scattered across the May calendar, a legacy of the violent turmoil in Los Angeles that caused cancellation or postponement of many festivities.
In contrast to past years, there were relatively few events scheduled today to celebrate the defeat of the French at the hands of outnumbered Mexican soldiers at Puebla on May 5, 1862. Many celebrations set for last weekend were put on hold when riots broke out in Los Angeles after acquittals of four policemen in the beating of black motorist Rodney G. King.
"This is going to be the quietest Cinco de Mayo in a long time," said Felipe Soria, the consul in charge of the Mexican Consulate's Santa Ana office.
"I feel very frustrated. We had planned to have a very important celebration for the people of Santa Ana, but with the tragedy in Los Angeles, we had to cancel everything," Soria said.
Two of the biggest celebrations in the county, in downtown Santa Ana and in Santa Ana's Centennial Park, were postponed. Organizers were trying to reschedule them, possibly for Memorial Day weekend. A major festival in Mile Square Regional Park in Fountain Valley was canceled too but will be rescheduled. No new date has been set yet.
Other celebrations took place last weekend as scheduled, including events in Anaheim, San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.
But the holiday will certainly not go uncelebrated today. Raul Davis, owner of Tlaquepaque restaurant in Placentia, where live bands will play mariachi music and tropical Mexican tunes all day and evening, said he thinks that people need a chance to let loose after the turmoil in Los Angeles.
"People are in a dilemma," he said. "They haven't really been into partying. They've been depressed because of the situation up there. But now that a few days have gone by, my phone's been ringing, and people are ready to party."
Officials at Irvine Valley College, which is holding its celebration today as planned, said they hope to demonstrate that Cinco de Mayo can be relevant to last week's crisis.
"We believe a sense of healing can come from this," said history professor Francisco Marmolejo, who is coordinating the community college's festivities. "Here's an opportunity to celebrate diversity and to foster understanding. We think this can be therapeutic for those who have been troubled by the riots and the violence."
Other events scheduled for today:
* Roosevelt Elementary School, 501 S. Halladay St, Santa Ana. 10:45 a.m. Mexican folk dancing, singing and presentations by students about the history of Cinco de Mayo.
* Remington Elementary School, 1325 E. 4th St., Santa Ana. 2 p.m. A carnival, with Mexican folk dancing, food and games.
* Fullerton College Quad, 321 E. Chapman Ave., Fullerton. Starts at 10 a.m. Mariachi music, folk dancers, pinatas, flowers, food booths and speeches.
* Cal State Fullerton, 800 N. State College Blvd., Gabrieleno Room and Quad. Speeches and workshops tonight and Wednesday from 7 to 10 p.m. in the Gabrieleno Room, then a daylong program Thursday in the Quad featuring Aztec dancers.
* UC Irvine, in front of the Administration Building. 11:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Mariachi music, Aztec dancers and a speech. Continues through Saturday with more music, dancing and speakers. Highlights include Comedy Night Wednesday at 7 p.m., Crystal Cove Auditorium, featuring Latino comedians and a chile salsa competition at noon Thursday, Ring Mall near the Student Center.
* Golden West College, 15744 Golden West St., Huntington Beach, in the Student Center patio. Noon. Mariachi band, ballet folklorico dancers and Mexican food, to raise funds for scholarships.