Olvera Street Honors May 5 in style

The Cinco de Mayo celebration on Olvera Street in down town L.A. is the place to be for fun, good authentic Mexican food and camaraderie. Several thousand people gathered here to celebrate the victory over the French army in the battle of Puebla.

Olvera Street is one of the most famous tourist attractions in Los Angeles. The picturesque village offers restaurants, souvenir shops and live, outdoor entertainment, where Mexican orchestras and local bands play Mexican patriotic songs. Many people dress in traditional Mexican clothing; little girls wear red and green ruffled dresses with wide skirts. Dancers spin around and click their castanets while musicians play popular tunes on their guitar. They serve a wide variety of traditional Mexican food that includes tacos, enchiladas, mole and other native recipes.

The positive energy of the people here has caused the streets to bristle with intense liveliness. "Every time I come here I feel proud to be Mexican," Rose Alverez said.
Alverez was born in California, but her parents are originally from Mexico. "My parents came to this country to better their lives and for the lives of their children, but they also made it a point for us children to never forget our heritage and instead be proud of who we are. I forget that sometimes. These types of celebrations are a good reminder for me."

Although the majority of people who came to celebrate are of Hispanic descent, a significant number of non Hispanics came to partake in the festivities. Dave Kaplan says he enjoys experiencing different cultural events. "I have come here for the past few years and I love it. It is great to be able to share this happy day with my Mexican neighbors, and the food and music remind me of actually being in Mexico," Kaplan said.

Kendra Williams, an African American woman brought her two grandchildren to teach them to respect other cultures and improve their perception of Mexicans in general. "In the inner city, there is a lot of tension between Latinos and blacks. I am trying to show my two grandsons that just because people may speak another language or have different customs does not make them bad people," Williams said.

One of William's grandsons smiled at a little Hispanic boy dressed as an Aztec Indian and said, "Grandma check him out, that's cool." The little Aztec smiled back at him and walked away with a look of pride.