Archive for Thursday, March 27, 2008

Cinco fete returning to De Soto

March 27, 2008

Cinco de Mayo Celebration is coming back to De Soto after a one-year absence with a new location and sponsor.

The festival inaugurated in De Soto in 2000 didn't happen last year when key members of its organizing committee backed away from the commitment and no one could be found to replace them. Stepping into that void this year is the metropolitan non-profit Services United/Servicios Unido.

"One of the things is I live in De Soto," said Services United President Star Villa. "When I heard no one was doing it, I thought 'why don't we do a community event there.'

"What we do is educate the community about what programs are out there for them."

Services United organizes two event each year to help further its educational mission, Villa said. This year, and it is hoped in the future, the De Soto Cinco de Mayo Celebration will be one of those annual events.

Because of the Services United's education mission the focus of the Cinco de Mayo Celebration will be different, Villa said. Service organizations will have booths at the festival to distribute information, she said. Those organizations can be as varied as those that provide services to the aging or De Soto Parks and Recreation, which has recently taken over for De Soto Youth Soccer, she said.

But Villa said many of the activities that were traditional at past De Soto Cinco de Mayo Celebrations will be back. Those include a parade, queen contest, piñata, bands and youth Mexican folk dancing.

There will be changes with the return of the festival May 3. The local Cinco de Mayo Celebration, which was been at the De Soto Community Center since its introduction in 2000, will move to De Soto VFW Post 6654. The De Soto City Council granted last Thursday a request from representatives with Services United and the post for an outdoor beer garden at the VFW. The festival will be from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

The tent has been rented so that the festival can go on rain or shine, Villa said.

The celebration will start with an 11 a.m. parade, which will reverse the traditional parade eastbound Penner Avenue/83rd Street route by staring at Miller Park and traveling to the VFW, said Services United board members Margie Stark of Reece and Nichols of De Soto.

In addition to waiving fees for the festival and parade permits, the De Soto City Council approved a $1,000 donation to Services United for the Cinco de Mayo Celebration. Villa said she was still soliciting additional sponsorships for the event.

Stark and Villa said she was researching Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in other communities with the goal of emulating their successes to grow the De Soto event.

"Omaha has a three-day festival," she said. "One of the things their success has allowed them to do is offer scholarships. One of our goals is to one day offer scholarships for the kids."

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