Richmond preps for Cinco de Mayo festivities

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Richmond preps for full weekend of Cinco de Mayo festivities
Tens of thousands of people came out for the annual 23rd Street Merchants Association Cinco de Mayo Festival. (Photo by Shots from Richmond)

UPDATE: A forecast of heavy rains Saturday morning prompted parade organizers to postpone the event to later in the year. On Sunday, the forecast shows mostly clear skies. The festival will go on as planned and is expected to draw thousands to 23rd Street, organizers said. The original story follows:

By Mike Kinney

Cinco de Mayo festivities in Richmond and San Pablo are some of the best in Bay, and organizers say that tradition will be alive and well at this weekend’s annual parade and festival.

Saturday, May 4, with the 16th Annual Cinco de Mayo Richmond/San Pablo Peace & Unity Parade. The parade of floats, performances, and community organizations starts at 10 a.m. at 24th Street and Barrett Avenue and Richmond and ends at 12:30 p.m. at St. Paul’s Church, 1845 Church Lane in San Pablo. The parade’s Grand Marshall this year will be community organizer Diego Garcia, owner of Leftside Printing.

The festivities continue Sunday, May 5 with the Cinco de Mayo Festival along 23rd Street, which last year drew over 100,000 people, according to the 23rd Street Merchants Association. This year’s festival will again run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. between the intersections of Rheem Avenue and Clinton Avenue. It will feature two entertainment stages, one sponsored by La Raza 93.3 FM on 23rd and Rheem, and another sponsored by Radio Lazer FM at 23rd and Clinton.

Both events are important for the city and the region’s Latino community.

San Pablo Mayor Genoveva Calloway, who co-chairs the parade alongside John Marquez, president of the Contra Costa Community College District Board of Trustees, says Saturday’s festivities are about bringing the Richmond and San Pablo communities together in unity.

Scene from the 2023 Cinco de Mayo parade from Richmond to San Pablo.

“This truly connects the spectators and people in the parade as one,” Mayor Calloway said. “The parade showcases the real communities of Richmond and San Pablo – our nonprofits, schools, horse riders, classic cars and trucks, our local businesses. All of these people
represent the heartbeat of our community.”

Rigo Mendoza, VP of the 23rd Street Merchants Association, said that at its heart, Richmond’s Cinco de Mayo Festival celebrates the date the Mexican army’s victory over France at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.

But John Marquez started up the popular festival to bring the community together and also to exhibit the community’s businesses and culture to visitors, Mendoza said. The gathering was also a way to promote peace in the community.

PHOTOS: 17th Annual Cinco de Mayo Festival in Richmond
Scene from the 2023 Cinco de Mayo Festival on 23rd Street in Richmond.

Mendoza said the festival will bring many people to the area, and that alcohol isn’t allowed to be sold or consumed. To ensure a safety festival, 42 security guiards have been hired. 

Mendoza says it takes over a half-year to prepare for the festival. But the ongoing success of the event makes it all worth it.

“We want the public to come and shop, so they can see the great diversity of businesses we have along 23rd Street here in Richmond,” he said.

Sponsors for Cinco de Mayo are Cities of Richmond and San Pablo, Richmond Police Department, San Pablo Department, Leftside Printing, First Student, Chevron, Mechanics Bank, 93.3 Raza FM, PG&E, Republic Services, Travis Credit Union, Kaiser Permanent, 89.7 Radio, Rabio Leather, and Sims Metal.