What began with a small group of parents and assistants of the ESEA and ESL programs at Fremont Jr. High and Anaheim High School as an annual fiesta to introduce the Hispanic Culture in to our community more then three decades ago has evolved into one of Orange County’s oldest Cinco de Mayo celebrations, with more than 100,000 spectators from all walks of life, expected during the festival’s four days.
When the celebration moved from Anaheim High School to La Palma Park in the early 1970s, attendance jumped substantially. The celebration grew from a few families and small community groups selling food and refreshments to amusement park rides and a stage for folkloric groups and mariachis.
Despite its growth, the celebration at La Palma Park in Anaheim has remained a family affair.
One of the original Founders (Joel A. Guerena who passed away in 1997) families has continued to manage the fiesta throughout the years. There of course have been many volunteers along with their families who get involved, working hundreds of volunteer hours on the festival 11 months of the year.
The Cinco de Mayo celebration, which marks Mexico’s 1862 victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, has grown from an annual fiesta of food booths to a large four day carnival, a queen scholarship program, and a soccer tournament involving some sixteen local soccer clubs. Mr. Guerena began this tournament between the teams he owned, played in and managed. The Jaycox Soccer Club (later known as Anaheim Cruz Azul,) sent an invitation for a friendly match of soccer with a team from Cruz Azul in Hidalgo, Mexico, one of that country’s most powerful clubs. That led to the annual soccer tournament at the Cinco de Mayo festivities.
Each year, 20 to 30 delegates from Cruz Azul, and San Miguel, Hidalgo are invited to attend the festivities and are provided lodging and taken to tourist attractions, such as Disneyland and Universal Studios, and Hollywood. They also enjoy our many local shopping malls. In September, the queen and a select group travel to Cruz Azul, Hidalgo, Mexico to participate in their annual Independence Day festivities as well as take in some local sights.
The Cinco de Mayo festival has become one of the biggest events of the year for many Orange County residents. Many attending the fiesta remember coming here as children, and now reunite with old friends each year. This tradition has been and is being passed down to many of there children and grandchildren.
The City of Anaheim provides tremendous support toward the success of our event by providing police, cleanup crews, electricity and other assistance, alone with their sponsorship.
We hope we see you at this year’s Cinco De Mayo Fiesta.
Saturday May 4th and Sunday May 5th at La Palma Park.