Even when canceled, annual Cinco de Mayo parade has impact

Peace & unity prevail despite canceled Cinco de Mayo parade
The annual Peace & Unity Cinco de Mayo Parade in 2019. (Photo credit: Mike Kinney)

When the COVID-19 shelter-in-place period began in March, organizers of the annual Cinco de Mayo Peace & Unity Parade in Richmond and San Pablo faced the difficult decision to cancel it.

“It really was a tough meeting,” organizer Oscar Garcia said. “Obviously we knew it was the right thing to do.”

The family-friendly celebration, which would have celebrated its 15th anniversary this year, has been an important event for Richmond, bringing hundreds of neighbors together in a way that strengthens community bonds and provides a boost for local businesses.

In its absence, however, “Peace & Unity” has remained intact.

About one week after organizers decided to cancel this year’s event, Sims Metal sent Garcia an email stating the company was ready to submit its sponsorship check for $500 to the event. Garcia informed Sims Metal about the cancellation, but a company representative responded, “the check is ready, feel free to give it to the community.”

A grateful Garcia sent an email to fellow parade organizers about the donation, which inspired additional donations, including $2,000 from former Richmond councilmember John Marquez and $200 from Ramon Cardona, totaling $2,700.

Event organizers eventually decided to contribute half of the funds to the Metas program, an organization enhancing education for community students, and the other half to Familias Unidas to boost mental health services.

The donations are a silver lining in an unfortunate situation and further emboldens the Cinco de Mayo Peace & Unity Parade’s mission to enhance neighbor bonds.

“It came together very naturally, with everyone chipping in a little,” Garcia said.

But organizers are not stopping there. They’re calling out for more donations to support these organizations, which are serving the Latino community at a difficult time.