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Shafter preparing for Cinco de Mayo Festival

The Cinco de Mayo Festival has become one of the most popular events of the year in Shafter, complete with a parade and numerous activities downtown and at Mannel Park. The festival kicks off on Saturday, May 4, with the parade, which will be presided over by the Grand Marshal for this year's event, Diana Burnett.

Burnett retired last year from the Shafter Police Department, ending her career with the rank of assistant police chief. Burnett said that she has always loved this festival and is honored and humbled by this honor. "I am so thankful for the committee and the community of Shafter for this honor," she said.

Filled with colorful dancers, classic cars, floats and, of course, horses, the parade is a don't miss for the festival.

Next,, the action moves down the street to Mannel Park. There, the day and evening will be filled with almost 100 vendors, with information, jewelry, clothes, craft and other retail items. There also will be plenty of food at the event, including tacos, burritos, hot dogs and hamburgers, as well as barbecue and a variety of drink options.

There will be a full slate of music and performers, including mariachis, folklorico dancers and local groups entertaining, as well as the popular group The Moonlighterz, a five-generation band from Bakersfield that have grown into one of the most popular local bands in Kern County. Their unique style of entertainment fuses genres such as Latin, funk, country, rock, oldies and more.

Moonlighterz has opened up for legends such as Malo, Pascado, Lalo Mora and Cardenales.

Headed up by Director Deanna Rodriguez-Root, her daughter Brandi and the Cinco de Mayo Festival Committee, this year's event promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Why the attention to Cinco de Mayo (the 5th of May)?. It is taught as an example of determination and courage. Against all odds, an ill-equipped, outnumbered army of young soldiers defeated a sophisticated French forces on the 5th of May, 1862, under Ignacio Zaragoza. The French army was attempting to take over and capture Puebla de Los Angelas, a small town in east central Mexico. The battle of Puebla lasted from daybreak to early evening, and when the French retreated they had lost nearly 500 soldiers to the fewer than 100 Mexicans killed.

Victory at the battle of Puebla represented a great moral victory for these young soldiers and the Mexican government, symbolizing the country's ability to defeat its sovereignty against threat by a powerful foreign nation.

Today Mexicans and Americans alike celebrate the anniversary of the battle of Puebla because the United States, and its president at the time, Abraham Lincoln, supported the victory of the Mexicans. Lincoln sent arms to the Mexicans and would have sent assistance and more support, but at the time the United States was in the middle of the Civil War.

President Lincoln supported the victory of the Mexicans because it kept Napoleon from supplying the confederate rebels for another year, which allowed the United States to build its army. They defeated the confederates at Gettysburg just 14 months after the battle of Puebla essentially ending the Civil War.


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