Jose Soto put the finishing touches on his 1963 Chevrolet Impala convertible, the mirrors placed so viewers could see the car's under carriage.

A little thing, perhaps, but critical if he was going to win the car show. Last year, he placed first in his class and won Best of Show.

At one end of the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center, music throbbed and sirens blared, the sounds bounding out of trunks laden with boom boxes.

More than 100 cars were brought in by their owners to compete.

At the front of the center, however, there was a more Latino flavor to the music.

Cinco de Mayo was celebrated in a multitude of personal ways Saturday.

From the car show to food, dancing, vendors, entertainment and, well, more food, an estimated 5,000 in Colorado Springs would celebrate Mexico's historic defeat of the French on May 5, 1862 in the Battle of Puebla.

Art Flores, 49, celebrated by dancing the Zumba to instructors who took the stage and led him through dance steps.

Kids got their faces painted.

Vendors pitched their wares, from clothing, to photography and sunglasses.

The food was cooked outside the entrance of the center.

"It's a great show," said Kevin Felker, one of the board members for El Cinco de Mayo Inc., which put on Saturday's 31st annual Cinco de Mayo Fiesta & Car Show. "We get upwards of 4,000 to 5,000 people."

The celebration is "a cultural awareness thing," said Carmen Abeyta, past chairman of El Cinco de Mayo Inc. "We really feel that education is the way for our young citizens. They are going to be our future leaders."

The organization works year round to help Hispanics reach their goals in education, she said. Over the past 21 years, the organization has come up with about $200,000 for students.

The celebration "is not to go out and get drunk, but to celebrate the history of Cinco de Mayo," said Savannah Mondragon, chair of El Cinco de Mayo Inc.

While history was celebrated, though, the cars were the biggest draw, said Gaspar Martinez, who has been in charge of the car show for 18 years.

"It's what brings in most of the people and the entertainment," he said.

Roman Montano figures he has spent about $15,000 on his gold, metal-flaked 1965 Chevrolet Impala. He traded his 1964 Impala for it because it is his favorite model.

He's only had it for three months and this the 21-year-old barber's first show.

Soto declined to say how much he's spent on his car.

"It gets up there pretty much," he said. "It's not just the money, there's the time and the effort."

But the effort is worth it.

"It's something that is positive for me and my family to do," he said. "It's a positive thing."