Festivals galore: Cinco de Mayo

    Courtesy art.

    It’s time to shed your winter coat, don your sunglasses, and trade your snow tires for sunscreen. Winter is in the rearview, and the boundless possibilities of summer are on the horizon. If you haven’t already booked up your weekends with beach trips and bike rides, you’re in for a treat. May and June are sure to usher in summer with tons of festivals and activities for the whole family to enjoy, all while learning about our history, different cultures, and celebrating the diverse people that make up our community.

    Evette Pittman, the manager in the office of special events for the city of Grand Rapids, explains why the city is committed to hosting festivals and celebrations.

    “Events add value to the Grand Rapids community because they help to build social and emotional connectivity and engagement. When events happen, our city is vibrant, residents feel a sense of ownership, tourists visit, and businesses benefit economically. Many of the events the city permits are open and free, so they have a greater impact on creating equity, which is a city of Grand Rapids value.

    “The Office of Special Events has been systematic about creating and sustaining events, public art celebrations, and culture in Grand Rapids. In 2021, we introduced the Special Events Sponsorship Program by partnering internally with Mobile GR and the Office of Equity and Engagement. This program supports open and free events throughout the City of Grand Rapids with sponsorship awards.”

    The Mexican Heritage Association of West Michigan is hosting its inaugural festival, on May 5 at noon in Rosa Parks Circle, to commemorate La Batalla de Puebla, also known as Cinco de Mayo. Gabriella de la Vega, the president of the Mexican Heritage Association of West Michigan, shares more about the history of the holiday and what’s in store for the festivities.

    “The mission of the Mexican Heritage Association of West Michigan is to promote our Mexican heritage and culture. Since 1969, we celebrate every September the Mexican Independence Day. Many people think that Cinco de Mayo is our independence, but in fact is a meaningful day for both countries – the USA and México. We want to add the cultural part to the celebration of Cinco de Mayo. Through this event, we learn more about our communities and build stronger relationships.

    “The battle of the mole, in the state of Puebla, México, is where the Cinco de Mayo battle occurred. The mole, a delicious Mexican dish, is very famous and popular, so we are having a contest to find the best mole in our community. There will also be music, children’s activities, information, food vendors, and Mexican crafts. I am excited about the opportunity to get together and share more about our culture, the collaboration with other organizations, the performers, the food, and the giveaways.”

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    Ever since Pasha Shipp could talk, she's been dreaming up colorful stories. Fantasy creatures, mysterious kingdoms, enchanted forests, you name it. As she reached adulthood, she decided to take the magic out of her head and put it down on paper. Pasha has been writing for Grand Rapids Magazine since November 2015, and has loved every minute of it. She has a master's degree in Communication and a bachelor's degree in Film Studies from Grand Valley State University and Western Michigan University respectively. When she isn't daydreaming and writing stories for the magazine, she's exploring the many hidden treasures of Grand Rapids with her fiancé.