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Fiesta spirit spreads over border

The Mexican holiday honors a battle more than 100 years ago that marked the decline of French domination of Mexico.

[Times photo: Dan McDuffie]
Sonia Hernandez, 7, and cousin Tereza Zamora, 7, await the start of the Cinco de Mayo parade in Dade City.

By MICHELLE JONES

© St. Petersburg Times, published May 6, 2000


DADE CITY -- Forget the glitzy floats and the loud bands.

On Friday, a down-home parade helped celebrate a Mexican holiday.

Red, green and white ribbons hung from trees, fences and poles along Lock Street in Dade City to help commemorate Cinco de Mayo, the day in 1862 when Mexico began to shake off the domination of the French government.

That day 4,000 Mexican soldiers, under the command of Gen. Ignacio Zaragora, won a battle against 8,000 French soldiers at Puebla, Mexico.

This was the beginning of the end of French domination, and in 1867 the French-backed government fell, bringing freedom to the Mexicans.

Friday's parade consisted of 12 cars and trucks decorated with the colors of Mexico and flying flags of their homeland. Occupants, some dressed in traditional garb, waved to people and tossed candy to children along the 10-block parade route.

One convertible was decorated with a sombrero on the hood, with a brightly colored blanket draped over the rear seat and covering the trunk.

Mariachi music from a boom box in one of the cars provided the sound of Mexico.

Frank Malacara and his brother, Mikey, watched the parade.

"This is my birthday, I'm 22 today," said Frank Malacara. "It is wonderful to have my birthday on the day Mexico won its freedom from France."

Malacara said his father was from Mexico, and his mother came from Texas, and he was born in Chicago.

"Everyone comes out to see the parade; it is a big celebration for us Mexicans," said Malacara. "But freedom is the main celebration, and I feel proud to be a part of it."

The celebration will continue today with the first Cinco de Mayo Low-rider Car Show at the Pasco County Fairgrounds on State Road 52 in Dade City.

From noon to 8 p.m. the "Mexican Fiesta" will celebrate the holiday with a low-rider car competition, traditional Mexican food, games, contests and music. The cost is $5 per person with children younger than 12 admitted free.

-- Michelle Jones covers central Pasco community news. She can be reached at (813) 226-3459. Her e-mail address is jones@sptimes.com.

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