Thursday, May 2, 2013 , Updated 8:00 a.m., May 5, 2013
Bailamos! Celina hosts fourth annual Cinco de Mayo celebration
Highlights include a soccer tournament, jalapeno-eating contest, and about 10 traditional dances.
CELINA Grab a sombrero, Celina’s fourth annual Cinco de Mayo Festival will be held Saturday, May 4.
Hosted by El Puente de Celina, the city of Celina, and Celina Main Street, the festival will begin with “El PiCoSo” Cinco de Mayo Soccer Tournament at 8 a.m. Saturday morning at Old Celina Park, 12670 FM 428 in Celina. Spectators can enjoy watching a 7 v. 7 men’s soccer tournament when the games kick-off at 9 a.m.
A concession stand and bathroom facilities will be available at the tournament. The first place-winning team will receive a trophy, $500, and a championship jersey. A maximum of 16 teams can register for the tournament. Visit cincodemayocelina.com for information on registering. Deadline for entry is May 2.
Following the soccer tournament, the Cinco de Mayo Festival will begin at 4 p.m. at the downtown Square, South Ohio Drive, and West Main Street. The event will play host to traditional Mexican dances, music, cuisine, vendors, games, and more.
“We will have about 10 traditional Mexican dances,” said Sandy Carter, head of the festival vendor services. “We have little kids to adults that will be dancing [throughout the event].”
All net proceeds from the tournament and festival will go toward the El Puente de Celina scholarship fund. El Puente de Celina, a non-profit organization dedicated to bridging cultures in the community, will present three $1,500 scholarships to Celina High School graduating seniors on the day of the festival.
Carter said the event will offer Mexican and Tex-Mex cuisine such as tamales, gorditas, tacos, and fajitas as well as traditional fair food such as funnel cakes, snow cones, and candy apples.
Eagle Wings Athletics will be at the event to host an exhibition with its gymnasts. Those brave enough are invited to participate in the jalapeno-eating contest. CHS students will also display their skateboarding talents.
“We’re really trying to embrace the young people, too,” Carter said.
For the first time, a mariachi band will perform at the festival. Children can enjoy bounce houses, face painting, games, and crafts at the new children’s area this year. A hamster ball booth will also be set up. Some activities will be available for a fee.
“We really are trying to make it economical for families to come,” Carter said.
She estimated an average of 1,000 people if not more attended the festival last year. Carter shared a story from last year’s event when she was down to the last chair with an Hispanic gentleman during a musical chairs game. She won the game and the man offered his hand for a handshake. Instead, Carter hugged him.
“We just gave each other a really big hug and to me, that’s what it’s about – just embracing each other,” Carter said.
Festival founder and owner of Jimbo’s Pizza, Dago Rodriguez, first came up with the celebration four years ago when he said God sent him a dream.
“In the beginning, nobody believed me,” he said.
To get people to believe in him and the festival, Rodriguez started wearing a sombrero, even picking up his daughter from school wearing it. It soon worked for the former school teacher from Mexico who moved to Celina in 1997.
“Even if we’re from Mexico or another county, we live in Celina and we’re welcomed,” Rodriguez said. “No matter what country you’re from, when you get together [for Cinco de Mayo], it’s special.”
Through the help of those in the city, the Cinco de Mayo Festival has been ongoing for four years.
“I thank God for the opportunity [for the celebration],” Rodriguez said. “God puts people together for this to happen. I am only one person but everybody [helps].”
Title sponsor Gentle Creek Golf Club will be raffling a Junior Golf Membership for ages 12-22 combined with a Family Golf Developmental Lifestyle Membership. Carter shared in an email that this includes a higher education scholarship fund that can equal up to $5,000.
Tickets for the raffle are $1 each, which can be purchased at Celina Twice is Nice, Turquoise Firefly Downstairs, Willow House, Jimbo’s Pizza, Two Girls Forever, and WTW Custom Jewelers.
Carter said the event could use more volunteers. To volunteer, visit cincodemayocelina.com.
“We encourage people to get out and come to the event and experience the culture,” Carter said.
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