STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. — Today, the Mexican Consul General celebrated Cinco de Mayo alongside Staten Islanders at a festive event at Our Lady of Mt. Carmel-St. Benedicta RC Church, which hosts the borough’s largest and oldest Cinco de Mayo festival.
This free event featured a visit by Consul General Jorge Islas Lopez, Mariachi music, traditional Mexican food, cultural heritage dances, crafts, family entertainment, a health fair, COVID-19 vaccines and tests, information tables, and more from noon to 3 p.m. on Sunday.
“Cinco de Mayo is a great opportunity for all Mexican Americans and all Mexican immigrants because in the U.S. it’s seen like Mexico’s Day, where we can celebrate our traditions, customs, and our culture,” said Lopez.
“The festival is a source of pride for us and a way to share our rich culture,” said Michelle Molina, executive director of El Centro del Inmigrante. “We have performers of dance styles from across Mexico, lots of music, and of course traditional versions of Mexican food, like the tacos and other favorites that are known all over the world.”
Mariachi Loco NYC, one of the best-known groups in the city, filled the air with the distinctive sounds of trumpet, violin, guitar, and song. Colorful dancers from Ballet Guadalupano and Nuu Davi dance troupe took the stage to showcase traditional performances from regions across Mexico.
Food was on sale for everyone to taste true Mexican cooking. Walk-up COVID-19 vaccines were available along with health and community information located around the parking lot.
ABOUT CINCO DE MAYO
“Many Americans from north of the border consider Cinco de Mayo a day to hang out with friends and assume it is like Mexico’s July 4. But the holiday is not an Independence Day celebration (that is September 16),” emphasized Molina. ”Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s victory over the French Empire at the Battle of Puebla, on May 5, 1862.”
Mexico won the battle with 2,000 soldiers who had to face approximately 5,000 French soldiers.
“The unity, desire, and will to defend our independence, our sovereignty, our liberty, our land, and our people was more than what we needed in the battle. We remember this day with pleasure,” said Lopez.
“Together we are more, and together we can do more,” he said.
Puebla is a city about a two-hour drive southeast of Mexico City and is the native home to many Mexican immigrants living in New York City and Staten Island.
ABOUT EL CENTRO DEL INMIGRANTE
El Centro del Inmigrante is a Staten Island Workers Center that has served the borough’s Mexican and immigrant community for 25 years. Since the pandemic began, El Centro has partnered with pharmacies and the city to organize and administer nearly 5,000 vaccines. El Centro’s long-standing community food pantry more than doubled the number of people served over the past two years.
To address COVID-19’s hardships, El Centro also connected immigrants with direct grants, worked to find rental assistance, provide burial costs for those who died, helped navigate the red tape of hospital bills, and more. El Centro processed more than 4,000 applications for the state Excluded Workers Fund. El Centro has organized an annual Cinco de Mayo event in the community since 1997.
The event was organized by the Port-Richmond-based Workers Center El Centro del Inmigrante and sponsored by Project Hospitality, Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Catholic Charities, Super Health Pharmacy, Illuminart, Staten Island Jewish Community Center, The SI District Attorney’s Office, House of Community, SIPCW, Central Family Life Center, New World Preparatory Charter, NYC Commission on Human Rights, the Mexican Consulate and the Muslim Sisters of SI.