Crowds pack 23rd St. for Cinco de Mayo festival

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The 23rd Street corridor in Richmond held another colorful, festive and well-attended Cinco de Mayo celebration on Sunday.

Although city officials have yet to peg a number on total attendance, a police spokesman said the turnout for the warm, sun-soaked festival on 23rd Street between Clinton and Rheem avenues will likely be higher than last year’s event, which brought more than 100,000 people to the corridor.

One high-profile attendee happened to be Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who said a few words on one of the entertainment stages Sunday afternoon.

Despite the large crowds, the event remained a peaceful, family-friendly affair, Richmond police spokesman Lt. Felix Tan said.

“I don’t think anyone was arrested,” Tan said Monday.

Three entertainment stages, heaps of delicious traditional foods and oodles of activities for the whole family colored the festival, which was held by the 23rd Street Merchants Association and sponsored by Chevron Richmond and the city, among others.

Kids had access to pony rides, simulated bull rides, bouncy houses, face-painting, games, crafts and more. Live music blared from all three stages throughout the daylong event, and on the street attendees watched live performances of Native American dancing and Luche Libre wrestling.

There were also dozens of community resource booths, where the YMCA of the East Bay urged healthy living habits through fun games, and where the national Be the Match program encouraged locals to become life-saving marrow/stem cell donors.

Patricia Canessa, the public affairs manager at Chevron Richmond, brought her family and enjoyed the festival in between providing welcome speeches on two stages.

“We support this festival because it has proven year after year to build community and provide a significant boost for area businesses and nonprofits,” Canessa said.

Canessa also took her moments on stage to spread the word about the Richmond Promise College Scholarship program, which promises up to $1,500 in annual scholarship money along with financial aid guidance for every Richmond resident graduating from high school. The $35 million program is part of a community benefits agreement between the city and Chevron connected to the $1 billion Chevron Richmond Refinery modernization project.

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