The first Cinco de Mayo celebration in Corona was held in 1924. Ms. Teresa Lemus was the community’s first Cinco de Mayo Queen. Having moved to Corona from Phoenix, Arizona, her father wished to host a Cinco de Mayo celebration. With the help of the community, money was raised to hold a parade, fiesta, and a street dance. At that time, the parade traveled along the city’s Grand Boulevard Circle. After the parade, a fiesta continued on a small park now called Sheridan Park/Montoya Walk located at 300 Sheridan Street in the residential area of the barrio. Later in the evening, the celebration concluded with a street dance on Fourth Street between Sheridan and Merrill Street. According to local history, the celebration was not an annual event. In 1972, community leaders agreed to hold and organize an annual celebration with the idea of raising money to award a scholarship to a student graduating from Corona Senior High. At that time, there was only one high school. The committee organized a queen contest. Young women from the barrio were invited to participate. The queen contestants were asked to sell raffle tickets and the one who raised the most money would be crowned queen of the parade and fiesta. That year, the first $50.00 scholarship was awarded.
The tradition continues forty-one years later and each year, depending on the money raised by the queen contestants and the success of the events, the committee awards scholarships. Since 1994 to 2018, a total of $255,568 has been awarded in scholarships to the Corona-Norco Unified School District. The Riverside Community is the fiscal sponsor for this committee that manages the distribution of the scholarships.
WHAT TO EXPECT ON THE DAY OF THE PARADE
The 44th annual celebration will begin with a parade at 10:00 a.m. Sixth Street becomes an entertainment venue that stretches from Merrill Street to Rimpau Avenue. Five announcers are located along the parade route introducing each parade entry. You are entertained by dancers, marching units, low-riders, antique cars, and school children of all ages participating with their dance groups or school clubs.
After the parade, the fiesta begins at the Corona City Park located at 930 East Sixth Street with opening ceremonies scheduled for 12:00 p.m. at the Fiesta Band Shell. Trophies will be awarded to parade participants and the announcement of the new queen. At the City Park, you will be greeted with the aroma of an assortment of Mexican food, along with other ethnic foods served by local non-profit groups and businesses. You will hear the sounds of Bands or Mariachi groups, Folklorico Dancers, Latin Salsa, Hard Rock and Oldies. The children will be well-entertained at the Children’s Fun Zone as they play and jump around in fun bouncers, ride the ponies, and play at the game booths. This all-day event is filled with families enjoying a day at the park.
This celebration is more than just a parade, it is about the community coming together to support the efforts of this committee to raise money for scholarships. The parade and fiesta is the finishing touch that makes this all possible. “Muchas gracias” to all the volunteers who dedicate their personal time to this annual celebration and to the sponsors and the community for their support.
Be sure to mark your calendars, bring your family, invite your friends and join us on Saturday, May 5, 2018 at 10:00 a.m. for a fun and entertaining day.
SIGNIFICANCE OF CINCO DE MAYO
Mexico regained its independence from Spain on September 16, 1821. Mexico was in debt with several foreign countries that included Spain, England and France that demanded repayment. Mexico refused and wanted to postpone their repayment for a few years. Spain and England withdrew their financial support but France had other plans. France invaded Mexico along the coast of Veracruz and marched toward Mexico City.
THE BATTLE OF PUEBLA
Cinco de Mayo celebrates the anniversary of the Battle of Puebla, Mexico that took place on May 5, 1862, some 41 years after Mexico’s Independence. Stories on the events that took place at Puebla, near the Mexican forts of Loreto and Guadalupe describe the battle as lasting only four hours, while other accounts describe the battle lasting a full day. The outcome of the battle remains the same. A few thousand ill-equipped Mestizo & Zapotec Indians were lead by Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza Sequin that fought and blocked the French army’s invasion whose intent was to overtake Mexico City and establish its own empire. The courage of the Indians that stood up against the French army reignited their sense of pride and unity that was heard throughout the state of Puebla.
Although the battle was won on May 5, 1862, Napoleon III organized another army a year later, that ultimately overtook the Mexican army and installed Archduke Maximilian a relative of Napoleon III as ruler of Mexico City. Maximilian ruled from 1864-1867. With the end of the American Civil War, the United States was in a position to help Mexico with political and military assistance that helped Mexico eventually drive the French out of Mexico once and for all.
Remember the Battle of Puebla – also known as “La Batalla de Puebla”