Large Crowds Flock to Cinco de Mayo

2016 Cinco De Mayo
Dancing horses were just a small part of Sunday's day-long Cinco de Mayo celebration in downtown Hermiston.

In just four short years, Hermiston’s Cinco de Mayo celebration has become so popular that it may have outgrown downtown Hermiston.

A parade kicked things off Sunday just after 1 p.m.
Another large crowd gathered throughout the day on Sunday to take in the annual celebration. As many as 6,000 people attended the event that featured a much larger carnival along with more vendors.

Hermiston Parks and Recreation Director Larry Fetter said there is some preliminary discussion about holding the celebration at the Eastern Oregon Trade & Event Center next year.

Sunday’s Cinco de Mayo started off just after 1 p.m. with a parade up Second Avenue. State Sen. Bill Hansell gave the opening address and talked about the positive impact the Hispanic community has had on Hermiston and all of Umatilla County. He said when he was first elected as Umatilla County Commissioner in 1983, the largest non-white population in the county was Native American.

“That has obviously changed and now we have a large Hispanic population,” he said. “With the exemption of the Native Americans, all of us have come here from somewhere else.”

HHS Band
The Hermiston High School Marching Band.
Hansell said he is often asked what he thinks of Umatilla County’s large Hispanic population, which makes up about 25 percent of the entire population.

“My answer is based on observation and experience,” he said. “Your faith and your family are important to you. You care for your elders and your children are your priority. The Hispanic work ethic is second to none. From field workers to the medical profession, you are hard workers.”

Hansell talked about the hands-on role Hispanics play within the city of Hermiston and all of Umatilla County.

Bill Hansell
Oregon State Sen. Bill Hansell talks about the vital role Hispanics play in the community during Sunday’s Cinco de Mayo celebration in Hermiston.
“Hispanics are community leaders and I always use Hermiston as an example,” he said. “Some of you serve on the city council and other positions of leadership. You formed the Hispanic Advisory Committee to provide leadership and work through problems. You are owners and operators of businesses that serve the public.

“For our region’s economy, I’m glad you’re here. The Latinos in my area are my constituents, and many of you are my friends.”

Hermiston Hispanic Advisory Committee Chairman Eddie de la Cruz said the annual celebration, which is supported by the city of Hermiston, is an example of how Hermiston embraces its diversity.

“This is a great symbol for our community,” he said.

The fifth day of May marks the unlikely victory of an under-sized Mexican Army over the French Army that had invaded Mexico. On May 5, 1862, despite having twice the number of troops and superior weaponry, the French Army was defeated by the Mexicans who had only rakes, hoes and machetes.

For years, Hermiston’s Cinco de Mayo celebration was held at McKenzie Park without the support or sponsorship of the city. Several years ago, former Hermiston City Manager Ed Brookshier helped instigate the city’s involvement in the event and its move from McKenzie Park to downtown Hermiston in front of City Hall. Each year has attracted more and more people to the celebration.

On Sunday, the crowds were treated to a dancing horse competition, music, street dancing, plenty of food and beverages and the much larger carnival that was located behind the Hermiston Public Library.

And like all good parties, it lasted well into the evening.