Saturday parade, festival to entertain De Soto
Tony Valenzuela said people in De Soto missed an old friend early last May.
"A lot of people told me, 'It feels weird like something is missing,'" he said. "Five years in a row, and then suddenly nothing is going on with Cinco de Mayo. A lot of people said they missed it, not just in the Mexican community."
The De Soto Cinco de Mayo Celebration is back after a one-year hiatus. The celebration will start with a parade downtown at noon Saturday and then move to the De Soto Community Center, 32905 W. 84th St., for nearly 11 hours of activity.
"Pretty much everything is ready," Valenzuela said. "I think everybody's excited we're going to have it back."
Those attending will enjoy traditional Mexican music, dancing and -- of course -- food, Valenzuela said.
"Last Friday, we had 11 (food vendors) already," he said. "We should have plenty for everyone."
Entertainment this year will include a mariachi band, a mechanical bull, traditional Mexican folk dancing performed by local children and teens and a feature dance performance by Fiesta Folkorica of Lawrence, Valenzuela said.
There will also be kid's games, but one Mexican tradition will be absent.
"We're going to avoid the piÃ±ata this time because it gets kind of dangerous with too many children and not enough adults to control them," Valenzuela said. "We're going to hand out candy to the kids."
The parade is being organized by Pat Atchison, who gained experience in parade management in past De Soto Days Festivals. She and other organizers will start registering parade entries at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the Lexington Trails Middle School parking lot near the intersection of Lexington and Penner avenues, Atchison said.
The parade will leave the school parking lot at noon, move down Penner Avenue and 83rd Street before turning south to the Community Center at Delaware Street, she said.
The parade will include a mariachi band, horse riders, De Soto Cinco de Mayo queen and princesses, the De Soto Fire Department and members of the Johnson County Sheriff's Office.
Those who would like to be in the parade can call her at (816) 289-4522, Atchison said.
Cinco de Mayo is back in part because of a city contribution of $3,500. When approving the contribution, De Soto City Council members asked organizers to look for ways to improve the financial standing of the festival so the donation could be cut.
The Cinco de Mayo Celebration has found it hard to operate in the black since the city banned the sale and use of alcohol in the Community Center.
Valenzuela said organizers were considering several options, including a fireworks stand. But he said the queen election and dance scheduled yearly before Cinco de Mayo could provide the money the committee needed if the right location could be found.
"We need a nice big place we can serve beer," Valenzuela said. "We had it in Linwood this year and raised $2,500. But that's a very small place, and some people didn't come because they didn't think there would be room.
"We had it in the (De Soto) Community Center one year and got $5,000 in one night. That's the kind of fund-raiser that can raise money if we can find the right place."