Ask Carmen Abeyta about the importance of Cinco de Mayo, and she’ll compare it with the Battle of Puebla, a relatively small clash for Mexico.

“It was significant in that the Mexican army wasn’t supposed to win,” said the longest active member of the nonprofit El Cinco de Mayo Inc. “They were outnumbered and didn’t have artillery or weapons or anything, compared to the French army. They should have given up and said don’t even bother, but they strategized and ended up being victorious.”

She thinks of it as a metaphor for life: Even when you feel beaten down, hopeless and as if everything is against you, don’t give up. Forge ahead.

The 36th annual Fiesta and Car Show to celebrate the holiday is Sunday at a new location, Mission Trace Shopping Center. Saturday night is the Cinco de Mayo Scholarship Awards/Gala Banquet, with keynote speaker Monikah Ogando. A dance will follow the awards ceremony.

Sunday’s free, family-friendly event will feature a color guard, Aztec dancers Grupo Xochitl, Ballet Folklorico de Barajas, Christian rap group Dem JBoyz and more. Abeyta, who also helped organize the event, also expects up to 100 cars to be on display.

“A lot of the Hispanic community grow up with liking cars and making sure they’re in tip-top condition,” she said. “It’s their pride and joy. They put a lot of money and energy into that. They like to come and show that off, rightfully so. It’s part of the culture.”

What’s at the heart of both events, however, are the $1,000 scholarships awarded to local teens during the Saturday evening banquet. The nonprofit provided 18 scholarships last year.

“One thousand dollars per scholarship isn’t much, but it can make the difference between students being able to attend college or not,” said Abeyta. “It helps if we can give a student that little boost.”

JENNIFER MULSON, THE GAZETTE, 636-0270, JEN.MULSON@GAZETTE.COM

Contact the writer: 636-0270

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