From the flavor of the food to the flavor of the entertainment, the City of Hammond hosted a Cinco de Mayo festival as vibrant as their city in the Hammond Civic Center on Saturday night. For only $15 for adults and $5 for children, families from the Region packed the center to share in a local celebration of this great Mexican-American holiday.
Some of these community members included Robert Garcia III of Hammond, who brought his young son, Robert Garcia IV, to see the action. While his family usually hosts their own Cinco de Mayo party at home, they wanted a change of pace, so they came to this party instead. Another patron, Alejandra Rodriguez of East Chicago, was invited by a friend that comes every year, and she was not disappointed.
“There’s so much culture here – it’s a real Mexican party!”
In a culture where “no, thank you” means “yes, please,” and “a little of everything” means double scoops and a towering plate, East Chicago’s El Gran Taco Mexicano delighted celebrants with a full-flavor Mexican spread.
The tables were set with snacks, including red and green sauces and bowls of veggies in case someone wanted something to nibble on, while vendors sold elotes and horchata. Adult beverages were equally reasonably priced, and non-adult soda was free!
La Ley 107.9FM emceed the evening with popular Mexican tunes and even gave away a children’s bike in a charity raffle.
The party really started to heat up when dancers of all ages from the Ballet Folklorico Fiesta Mexicana dance troupe in East Chicago came out, drawing folks from their tables to the best seats in the house – the floor! It wasn’t just the parents who were taking photos and videos; Jose Figaroa of East Chicago was there to see his son Joshua dance with the troupe.
The dancers wore traditional costumes that flowed to the rhythm, to which their feet stomped in time. It opened with a quartet of young ladies in fantastic headdresses with walnut shells wreathed around their ankles.
Crystal Wheeler of Hammond has been coming for the past few years with her family.
“I just love to watch those dancers!” she said.
After the dancers left the floor, Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. introduced the final act: Together.
“They’re extremely entertaining; they’ve played multiple Festival of the Lakes, multiple Cinco de Mayo,” Mayor McDermott explained. “Why? Because they are pros, and they are entertaining, and they want you to get up and DANCE!”
And dance they did! From niños to abuelas, the dance floor was packed with partiers. Rita Gonzalez of East Chicago, mixed it up with the best of them, getting down to The Harlem Shake and everything else that Together pumped out.
The mayor also took a moment to thank the sponsors, including Pepsi and El Gran Taco Mexicano, noting that the annual event wouldn’t have been the same without them. It was these sponsors and all of the families who made it out to the Hammond Civic Center that made the Cinco de Mayo festival a fun and exciting night.