KENNETT SQUARE >> On Sunday, State Street was filled with celebrants of the Mexican festival Cinco de Mayo — the date that commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862. In the United States, it has become a day to celebrate Mexican-American culture.
Although it is not the Mexican day of Independence, which occurred on September 16, 1810, in Kennett Square, where half of the population has Mexican roots, Cinco de Mayo elicits the same enthusiasm, if not more.
This is the 16th year Cinco de Mayo has been celebrated in the borough with a street festival of music, dancing, food and games. It is organized by the local Casa Guanajuato organization, with its president Arturo Gomez-Rubio at the microphone as host.
He greeted the crowd — which grew to thousands during the afternoon — by saying that Cinco de Mayo in Kennett Square shows the strong Mexican presence and values in the community.
Several members of the borough council including Geoff Bosley and Dan Maffei were on hand onstage, and former Council President and Mayor Leon Spencer was there as well to sing the “Star Spangled Banner.”
That was followed by the signing in Spanish of the Mexican national anthem, which many there joining in, hands on hearts.
State Rep. Steve Barrar told the audience how much he enjoys Cinco de Mayo.
“Every time I come here, I get to meet new people and learn more about the culture,” he said.
The crowd had already begun to swell at the 11 a.m. starting time, and from uptown at Route 82 all the way down the hill to Meredith Street, there were vendors, non-profit booths and food stands.
The alluring aroma of the stacked pork cooked over fire filled the street and people formed long lines to get their favorite Mexican dishes for lunch.
In addition to the attraction of the food, there was plenty of dancing on the stage with kids who looked as young as 6 through adults in middle age doing Mexican folk dances.
The atmosphere was friendly and joyful. The crowd filled the street, almost like a smaller version of the Mushroom Festival, but the theme was clearly Hispanic.
When he was asked how he felt about the response to the celebration, Gomez-Rubio said, “This is for the whole community.”