Annual downtown event celebrates rich culture

   Started by a small service organization in 2014, Mount Pleasant’s Cinco de Mayo Celebration has quickly become one of the premiere events in Northeast Texas attracting upwards of 8,000 people to the downtown, free one-day festival.  

  This year’s fifth annual event kicks off with a beauty pageant May 3 at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center and continues in downtown Mount Pleasant Saturday, May 4 from noon to midnight. The event will feature musical and dance talent including a mariachi band. The headlining band, Los Rieleros del Norte, will take the main stage at 10 p.m.

   Originally a celebration commemorating the Mexican Army’s 1862 Battle of Puebla victory over France during the Franco-Mexican War, today Cinco de Mayo is nationally hailed as a celebratory event showcasing the rich and vibrant history of the Mexican culture. As the local Hispanic population has steadily increased so too has the desire to make the event even bigger year after year.   In 2014, members of the Amigos Latinos Al Servicios (ALAS), a nonprofit group of Latino professionals in Titus County, created the event as a way to foster a sense of cultural pride and bring the local community closer together. Proceeds from business sponsorships provided scholarships to students attending Northeast Texas Community College.  And while the organization no longer exists, several of its original members including Ester Smith, who has chaired the event since its inception, continue to be a vital part of the local celebration.  

   “It is amazing to see what Cinco de Mayo has become since that very first year,” Smith said. “We knew it could be big, but this is even more than we could have ever dreamed of.”  

   With event support from the City of Mount Pleasant, the Mount Pleasant-Titus County Chamber of Commerce partnered with Smith and fellow organizers after the 2017 event to form a committee of volunteers to oversee the continued success of Cinco de Mayo. The strong partnership has helped to streamline several behind-the-scenes processes in order to take the event to the next level.   

   “We were so pleased to partner with Ester and her team on this enormous project,” Katie Stedman, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director, said. “She does an incredible job every single year and the Chamber is very excited to see the event continue to grow.”  

   When it comes to Cinco de Mayo, it’s all about the five senses in downtown Mount Pleasant. Participants enjoy everything from fresh, authentic Mexican food to multiple live performances including mariachi music and an annual headlining band to cap the night off in style. With a variety of activities appealing to all ages and ethnic backgrounds, Cinco de Mayo Mount Pleasant style features carnival rides, a soccer tournament, 5K and 1K runs and even a pageant crowning Little Miss Cinco de Mayo and the Cinco de Mayo Beauty Queen.   It’s everything original organizers hoped it would be— and so much more.  

   “We’re exhausted by the time it’s all over each year, but it’s totally worth all the work that goes into it,” Smith said. “From the volunteers to the sponsors to everyone who comes out to enjoy it, we really can’t thank them enough for their support. None of this would be possible without all of them.”