Cinco de Mayo — a forgotten holiday |

Cinco de Mayo — a forgotten holiday

Susan Wood, Tribune staff writer

Today is Cinco de Mayo, but it might as well be any other day in South Lake Tahoe.

Despite a large Hispanic population living here, the town has organized no formal celebrations for the Mexican holiday. The last one was so many years ago that people were hard-pressed to say when it was.

Bijou Elementary School once organized gatherings, but no such event is planned this year.

“I almost forgot about it. For us, it’s no big deal,” said Josefina Solano, who serves on the South Lake Tahoe Latino Affairs Commission.

Solano said those who do celebrate it often go to large-scale events in Reno or Carson City because the cities have population bases to support attendance.

Plus, South Lake Tahoe also lacks a consensus regarding what to do and who should do it, said Delicia Spees of the Family Resource Center.

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Then there’s the common misconception surrounding what the holiday commemorates that contributes to the lack of participation here.

Many people believe May 5 commemorates Mexican Independence Day, which actually falls on Sept. 16. May 5 marks a day on which Mexican soldiers conquered the French in Puebla.

Spees thinks more Mexicans from the Puebla state celebrate Cinco de Mayo, adding that she’s found more from the Jalisco state live here.

In Los Angeles, the Hispanic population comes out in full force for Mexican Independence Day.

Salvador Lopez, who was also appointed to the board of the South Lake Tahoe Latino Affairs Commission, has another theory — that Mexico has so many national holidays, such as Day of the Worker on May 1, that Cinco de Mayo gets lost in the shuffle.

“I think what we did is appropriate May 5. It’s a day off,” Lopez said.

In South Lake Tahoe, many people work on Cinco de Mayo. So it should come as no surprise that no one has organized a big celebration.

“There’s not as much of a sense of community. This town doesn’t even have a downtown,” Lopez said.

— Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at