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Cinco de Mayo celebrates 30th anniversary

May 6, 2013
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photo - Dancers from Ballet Folklorico De La Raza perform traditional dances for a crowd of hundreds at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Freedom Financial Center for the 30th Annual Fiesta and Car Show Sunday, May 5, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette
Dancers from Ballet Folklorico De La Raza perform traditional dances for a crowd of hundreds at a Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Freedom Financial Center for the 30th Annual Fiesta and Car Show Sunday, May 5, 2013. Michael Ciaglo, The Gazette 

Celebrating 30 years of Cinco de Mayo festivities and 21 years of awarding scholarships, El Cinco de Mayo, Inc., welcomed thousands in Colorado Springs for food, live music and a car show.

More than 5,000 people attended Sunday's Cinco de Mayo event at the Freedom Financial Services Expo Center. They were treated to raditional Mexican dances by Ballet Folklorico de la Raza, live music and a show of dream cars.

Robert Felix, accompanied by his wife and three young children, sang along to traditional mariachi tunes and dug into a towering bean and beef burrito, smothered in green chili.

'I bring my family every year, ' Flores said. 'It's important for my kids to experience their Mexican heritage, even here in Colorado. '

Eric Estrada, chairman of El Cinco de Mayo Inc., said the all-volunteer non-profit's goal is to capitalize on the Hispanic community's cultural diversity to raise money for scholarships awarded every year.

'Over the past 21 years we have awarded about $200,000 in scholarships to college students, ' Estrada said.

Carmen Abeyta has been with the organization since its creation 30 years ago. The most rewarding part of being involved with El Cinco de Mayo for her is seeing its growth and impact on students.

'This is about getting people involved, businesses and the community together, ' Abeyta said.

The organization awarded ten $1,000 scholarships in 2012 and established the Robert Lee Armendariz Scholarship, giving five college students $1,000 scholarships from the Armendariz fund, Abeyta said.

The Expo Center was filled with color and sound with traditional Mexican outfits, flags, decorations and fully-customized cars with bright paint jobs and colorful interiors.

Randy Bills and Alberto Rodriguez of Xquizite Car Club showed off five of their cars Sunday.

Bills, the club's president, said events like Cinco de Mayo are a great opportunity for everyone in the community to display their talents and share their heritage.

Sunday was the first time El Cinco de Mayo celebrated indoors, a move organizers made after cancelling last year's festivities due to weather. Although they were afraid the change of venue would affect turnout, Abeyta said the public's reaction was positive.

'Everyone has told me how beautiful the expo hall looks today, ' Abeyta said. 'It's wonderful to share and celebrate the Hispanic community year after year. '

For more information on El Cinco de Mayo, Inc., go to elcincodemayo.org.

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