It was a melting pot of culture, music and food Sunday as Hermiston celebrated Cinco de Mayo a day early.

Spanish blended into English and back into Spanish again during the event’s opening ceremonies, which took place between the morning parade and the live music playing all afternoon and into the evening.

“We live in a wonderful, wonderful country and a wonderful community that celebrates diversity, that celebrates heritage and culture,” Mayor Dave Drotzmann told the crowd.

Clara Beas Fitzgerald, a city council candidate who originally hails from Mexico, said even though people sometimes mistake Cinco de Mayo as an “independence day,” it was actually the start of a war that Mexico ultimately lost.

She explained that in 1861 the French army decided to cross the Atlantic and invade Mexico.

“They were 8,000 troops strong,” she said. “They had the best army, the best arms, the best artillery you could imagine at the time.”

Beas Fitzgerald said by the time they had reached the tiny, picturesque town of Puebla, however, more than 4,000 men, women and children had gathered to make a stand using sticks, stones, rakes, machetes and “anything they could get their hands on.” Miraculously the villagers won the battle, and it has been celebrated by people of Mexican heritage around the world ever since.

“It’s a cause for us to be proud,” she said.

The opening ceremonies were followed by traditional Mexican folk dancing, live music, clothing and jewelry vendors and an abundance of Mexican food served throughout the day. Organizer Eddie de la Cruz said he was “very excited” to see such a cultural event take place in downtown Hermiston.


Contact Jade McDowell at or 541-564-4536.


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