SAN FRANCISCO (BCN) – Cinco de Mayo festivities may have lost some sizzle in San Francisco’s Mission District this year, since there’ll be no street parade leading into the Civic Center festival.
Organizer Patricia Aguayo, of the Mission Economic Cultural Association, said today that a tough financial year sank the parade that has gone on “forever’’ in her hometown. She said the group lost about $100,000 last fall when its celebration of Mexican Independence Day drew little interest in the wake of Sept. 11 attacks and fund-raising has been hard ever since.
Aguayo, who grew up in the area herself and said she remembers relatives being crowned as queens and princesses over the years, is hoping to see floats and festivities in the Mission again next year if more money becomes available. About one-quarter of the funds come from city grants and the rest has to be raised privately.
“Tradition is nice,’’ she said, “but people have to sort of put their money where their mouth is.’’
Police Capt. Greg Corrales, of the Mission Station, said today he still expects Sunday to be busier-than-usual around the largely Latino Mission District, as many celebrate the date of Mexico’s victory over French invaders in the 1862 Battle of Puebla. “Some people are going to abuse the holiday and drink to excess,’’ he said.
Although officers have indicated that incidents of violence and gang-related problems have risen in the Mission during previous Cinco de Mayo parades, the captain said he did not see the problem as a reason in itself to call off the parade.
San Jose – where dozens were arrested five years ago during a crowd confrontation with police – and Berkeley and Oakland are all sites for parades this year. In the South Bay, authorities said an expanded venue is actually expected to draw more people this time.
In San Francisco, the organized festival featuring music and folkloric dancing is scheduled to get under way outside City Hall at 11 a.m. Children under 5 years old will be admitted for free, and a children’s play area has been set up.
Corrales said police and others in the community are already gearing up for a Memorial Day weekend parade slated as part of the annual Carnaval celebration.