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Downtown festival draws thousands

Saturday's Shafter Cinco de Mayo festival drew thousands downtown and to Mannel Park. The parade kicked off a full day, with over 40 entries including classic cars, clubs and organizations, marching bands, and, of course, the horses.

Grand Marshals Miguel Ayon and his staff at the Shafter Boxing Club headed up the parade, riding in the parade and also holding exhibitions at the park, with boxers displaying their talents.

Another star of the parade was the Brinco le Chinelos. The group dresses in colorful costumes, performing traditional dances as the music played downtown.

The Shafter Recreation and Parks District had an entry in the parade. Their group of seniors dressed up and danced a routine that showing older folks having a great time and keeping fit.

The parade was hosted by Jose Gaspar, a reporter for KGET 17. Gaspar announced the entries and greeted the crowd at the beginning of the event.

The Richland Junior High Trojan Marching Band performed, as well as the Shafter High Generals Marching Band. State Sen. Melissa Hurtado took part in the parade, waving to the crowd amid cheers.

Cinco de Mayo, the fifth of May, is a holiday that celebrates the date of the Mexican army's May 5, 1862, victory over France at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War. The day, is also known as Battle of Puebla Day. While it is a relatively minor holiday in Mexico, in the United States, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a commemoration of Mexican culture and heritage.

The celebration in Shafter has grown into one of the largest community events in the city every year. Headed up by Deanna Rodriguez-Root, her daughter Brandi Root, and the Shafter Cinco de Mayo committee, the event included the parade, and a full day of activities at Mannel Park. As is traditional, the parade was closed out with the appearance of the dancing horses that strutted and displayed their majestic manes as they danced down the street.

Immediately after the parade, the majority of the crowd made their way to Mannel Park to continue the festivities.


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