On Saturday, May 3, Houston's 18th annual Cinco de Mayo parade started as usual on Texas Ave in front of Minute Maid Park with an estimated 45,000 families lining the streets and vendors selling balloons, toys and Mexican flags. Floats of popular Hispanic businesses including Fiesta and Goya, high school bands, girl scout troops, dancers, and many more delighted the crowd with musicians in costumes playing popular tunes. Congressional representatives Sheila Jackson Lee, Al Green, and Gene Green joined in along with State Senator Carol Alvarado, County Sheriff Adrian Garcia with assistants on horseback, Harris County Clerk Chris Daniels, and City Council Members Robert Gallegos and Michael Kubosh.
The parade route went along Texas and ended at Preston and Crawford. With over 100 floats bands, cars, trucks and dance groups, the event lasted about 40 minutes. The weather was perfect, sunny with a light breeze. One observer with her young daughter used her ipod to video tape her son marching, accompanied by her young daughter valiantly attempting to manage her souvenirs of Little Mermaid and Dora the Explorer balloons and Mexican flags. She said she remembered when her daughter was smaller and the parade was much larger, stretching all the way to Main Street (about 6 blocks further west). Politicians also seemed fewer and farther between. But that might be explained in part by the popularity of other events happening simultaneously, including the International Festival at Hermann Square, (also sponsored by many participants in the parade), the Offshore Technology Conference starting at Reliant Center, scores of events at neighborhood libraries and parks, and neighborhood parties throughout the city.
Cinco de Mayo is celebrates a surprise victory by a small Mexican brigade in the town of Puebla, resisting the invasion of French troops en route to Mexico City in 1862. The relatively small, ill-equipped local band caught the French by surprise and temporarily slowed the advance. Although the French were able to regroup and continue marching on Mexico City, the event became emblematic of potential to overcome overwhelming adversity through courage and determination. The event is a provincial holiday in Mexico, but schools are closed national. The celebration of Cinco de Mayo in the USA began around 1862, primarily in the southwest in larger Mexican-American communities in California. Celebrations expanded nationwide, encouraged by the sponsorship of beer companies including Mexican Dos Equis, promoting the event as a great party occasions. On June 7 2005, the US Congress issued a joint resolution calling on the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States to observe Cinco de Mayo with appropriate celebrations.