Detroit Cinco de Mayo parade returns with music, floats, 'much-needed community'

Hayley Harding
The Detroit News

The Cinco de Mayo parade returned to the streets of southwest Detroit on Sunday with mariachi bands, dancers and floats drawing hundreds of people despite light rain.

The parade, the first one since the COVID-19 pandemic began two years ago, was a welcomed celebration of the Mexican holiday as well as Mexican culture in Detroit and around the U.S.

"This is what it's all about," said Alec Lopez, 27, of Detroit. "It's about getting together and just being with our community and other communities from around Detroit. This is a much needed community thing, and I'm glad to see it's back."

Lopez said he missed the camaraderie around big events like the parade. He was glad to see the crowd, calling it "a win for everyone."

The event, organized by the Mexican Patriotic Committee, stretched for more than two miles along West Vernor Highway.

Cinco de Mayo is a celebration of the Mexican army defeating France during the Battle of Puebla in 1862. In Mexico, the holiday is largely considered to be a minor one that is celebrated mostly around the area where the battle took place. But in the U.S., the holiday is much bigger and often celebrated as a tribute to Mexican heritage and culture.

Lucas Daly, 9, of Detroit tips his hat during the 57th annual Cinco de Mayo Parade in Detroit on May 1, 2022.

Tomas Moctezuma of Toledo, who has been coming to the parade since he was a kid, said he saw it not as a holiday, necessarily, but a great reason to gather with family up in Detroit and to "sit back and have a beer. ... "It's nice to be up here and reminisce on old times and on what this has always been."

People of all backgrounds gathered along the route to watch dancers and marching bands perform.

On one float, a singer performed some Selena's most iconic hits; on many others, people tossed candy, beads and even stuffed animals to children along the route. Vendors sold tacos and ice cream from carts.

The parade was part of a larger group of events on Saturday and Sunday including a festival at Plaza del Sol at West Vernor and 21st Street. The festival was designed to be family friendly, including even more music, dancing and entertainment.

Ella Garcia, 4, and holding a Mexican flag that was larger than she was, said she was glad she got to see the parade. She said it was the first one she had ever attended (a claim her mother, Mary, disputed) and also the best parade because she got to take home a lot of candy.

"I think it's fun," she said. "I like seeing all the people and the pretty dancers. They make it very fun for me and my mom and my brother."

Twitter: @Hayley__Harding