Boundless celebration

El Cinco de Mayo, Inc., has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships to more than 375 students in its 36-year history. [Courtesy photo/El Cinco de Mayo]

El Cinco de Mayo sets sites on Southeast

A Colorado Springs tradition is slated to roll into Southeast May 4 and 5.

The 36th annual El Cinco de Mayo Scholarship Awards Gala kicks off at 5 p.m. May 4 at Hotel Elegante, 2886 S. Circle Drive; while the all-ages Fiesta and Car Show is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m. May 5 at Mission Trace Shopping Center, 3031 S. Academy Blvd.

Tickets to the gala dinner cost $75 per person and include a key-note address by best-selling author and CEO Monikah Ogando and the dance that follows at 8 p.m. Tickets to the dance only cost $30 per couple in advance or $40 per couple at the door. Proceeds will go to support El Cinco’s scholarship efforts. To purchase tickets, visit

Sunday’s free fiesta will bring with it with it a family friendly hodgepodge of music, food, performing arts, crafts, and information and booths from area organizations and businesses. And that is to say nothing of the 100 or so cars of all types that will be on display for auto enthusiasts’ viewing. (See full list of events below.)

Gates for the fiesta open at 10:30 a.m. and the event is slated to wrap at 5 p.m. Space is still available for organizations and businesses that which to participate.

“There’s something for everybody,” Benjamin Gallegos-Pardo, chairman of presenting committee El Cinco de Mayo, Inc., said. “We don’t want to put any sort of … restrictions on this family friendly event.”

“It was one of the few cultural activities in the city that validated my Chicano side as a Mexican-American.” — Benjamin Gallegos-Pardo, chairman of El Cinco de Mayo, Inc.

A bit of history

El Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Perhaps surprisingly, it’s not considered a major holiday for our most of our neighbors to the south. But here in the U.S., it is often considered a day to celebrate the many cultural and social contributions of Mexican-American residents.

Gallegos-Pardo, 33, recalls going to the Colorado Springs fiesta as a young child. At the time, it was based in Monument Valley Park and welcomed the support and embrace of the entire city, he said.

“It used to be a huge event,” he said. “I was going to these festivals since ’92, ’93, as a little kid, 6, 10, 12, 14 years old.

“It was one of the few cultural activities in the city that validated my Chicano side as a Mexican-American.”

But as the festival aged it lost some of that community-wide cachet, and eventually bounced from location to location.

Mission Trace is a good fit for several reasons, Gallegos-Pardo said. Not only is Southeast the city’s most diverse area – about 37.5 percent of residents in the 80910 ZIP code and 34.7 percent of those in 80916 identify as Hispanic or Latino, according to the U.S. Census Bureau – it is also an area that is redeveloping.

And, Gallagos-Pardo added, for auto enthusiasts, the strip of South Academy Boulevard on which Mission Trace sits may well have sentimental significance.

“Anybody (in Colorado Springs) who has ever drag raced, had a motorcycle, had a low-rider, has driven that Academy corridor,” he said with a grin.


Changing narratives

Let’s be honest here: With national debate over a border wall between the U.S. and Mexico and an American proclivity to, at least to some extent, misappropriate the holiday, there may be some misconceptions out there about both El Cinco de Mayo and its celebrants. But much like Southeast itself, there is much more to Springs’ celebration and the cultures it honors than popular dialogue may suggest.

In its long history, presenting committee El Cinco de Mayo, Inc., has awarded more than $200,000 in scholarships to more than 375 worthy students of all backgrounds, according to the organization’s website.

“Anybody who is going to break the cycle” of a lack of education qualifies, Gallagos-Pardo said. “It’s all cultures … not just Hispanics. We don’t look at the color of the skin, we look at the story.

“The story has to be ‘how is it going to help you?’”

This year, the Southeast-based multi-agency RISE Coalition sponsored a $2,000 scholarship for one future collegian, Gallegos-Pardo said. And with the partnership and support of community-leaders like RISE and the Solid Rock Community Development Corp., hopes are high that this festival will prove the best in recent years.

“This is really a community effort,” Gallegos-Pardo said.

He stressed that the gala and fiesta present opportunities, really. Opportunities for residents from outside Southeast or who may not be acquainted with the Hispanic cultures to come and learn something more. Opportunities for Southeast to highlight its many wonderful qualities.

And above all, opportunities, to just have some good, safe fun with your loved ones, while also supporting an important cause.

“Come and experience, learn about, our community. Come and learn about our culture,” Gallegos-Pardo said. “The whole corridor of that Southeast side, we want to be engaged.

“It’s a beautiful area of town, and we have this whole day to be part of that. Even thought it’s in Southeast, it’s for the entire community, from Monument to Pueblo.”



WHO: El Cinco de Mayo, Inc.
WHAT: 36thannual gala and dance
WHEN: 5:30 p.m. May 4 (gala); dance begins at 8 p.m.
WHERE: Hotel Elegante, 2886 S. Circle Drive.
TICKETS: $75 per person, including dance (gala); dance is $30 per couple in advance or $40 per couple at the door.



Here’s the entertainment lineup for the El Cinco de Mayo Fiesta and Car Show. Other offerings include food, games, vendors, sports and play areas.
Gates open at 10:30 a.m. May 5 at Mission Trace, 3031 S. Academy Blvd.
* 10:30 a.m.: DJ Silky Smooth (variety music)
* 11 a.m.: Grand opening with the Color Guard and elected officials
* 11:30 a.m.: Grupo Xochitl (Aztec Dancers) from Pueblo
* 12:30 p.m.: Ballet Floklorico de Barajas (folk dancing)
* 1 p.m.: Zumba dance performance
* 2 p.m.: Ballet Folklorico de la Raza (folk dancing)
* 3 p.m.: Hip-Hop contest (opening by JJ Company Dance Crew) with Dem JBoyz Christian rap Group
* 4 p.m.: Open dancing with music by DJ Silky Smooth
* 5 p.m.: Trophy presentations



To be a sponsor of or have a booth at El Cinco de Mayo fiesta and car show, visit

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