what is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo — or the fifth of May — commemorates the Mexican army’s 1862 victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War (1861-1867). A relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, it has evolved into a celebration of Mexican culture and heritage.
The Great Bend City Council Monday night approved a $750 sponsorship for the annual Cinco de Mayo celebration set for May 6 at Jack Kilby Square. However, event planners had requested $1,000.
This marks the second year organizers have requested financial help from the city to help grow the festival. Last year, the city gave the higher amount, but under the condition that the amount could be tapered off in the future.
“I do know they are struggling,” Community Coordinator Christina Hayes said. The goal, however, was to see that it becomes self sufficient.
She told the council that Cinco de Mayo organizers approached the city in 2016 to help with promotions. The event committee had undergone a change in leadership and was having trouble finding sponsors.
But, “are we establishing a precedent,” Councilman Brock McPherson said. He wondered about other events and if the city would be willing to offer funds for them as well.
Besides, McPherson said, the city also provides in-kind services for the festival. Public Lands employees help with setup and cleanup, and the Police Department provides officers for the parade.
Hayes acknowledged this support; however, she cited the Great Bend Renaissance Festival. The city has extended financial help for it, but has backed off on the amount as the years pass.
And, she said, it is part of her job to promote Cinco de Mayo like she would promote any other local event.
Hayes said the Cinco de Mayo organizers used the city funding to help pay for entertainment and with their royalty pageant. However, some on the council wanted a more detailed accounting of how the money was spent.
The festival has been going on for 18 years, Hayes said. “Last year was the first time they asked for money.”
These are uncertain times for the Latino community, Hayes said. With the change in the White House, many Latinos are fearful of the future.
The event does help bring the Hispanic and Anglo cultures together, she said. They carry the American flag in their parade.
“I think as a community, we should reach out to everyone,” Councilman Mike Boys said. “We have a lot of heritage in this country and we need to cling to it.”
Boys moved to offer the $750.
After Boys’ motion was seconded, Councilman Wayne Henneke spoke in support of the full $1,000, noting that the Hispanic community may feel mistreated with current politics being what they are. However, the council was ready to vote on the lesser figure.
It passed 5-1 with McPherson voting against it.