LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — When you think of Cinco de Mayo in Las Vegas, eating, drinking and having fun come to mind. Many people, regardless of their country of origin, use the day to celebrate Mexican influence and contributions to the United States.
However, for some Mexican families, it’s just another day.
That’s because 5 de Mayo, also known in Mexico as the Battle of Puebla Day, commemorates how Mexican troops defeated the French Army in Puebla, Mexico, in 1862 -- not Mexican Independent Day as many people in the U.S. believe.
“It means, to be perfectly honest with you, a day that Americans celebrate us," said Mario Trejo Sr., a music teacher who’s been in the country for more than 30 years.
"As a Mexican growing up in Mexico, 5 de Mayo was never really celebrated," he explained. "It was more Mexican independence, September 16."
"Any opportunity or any excuse we can have for gatherings and for having a good time with our family members is welcome," he said. "If it's 6 de Mayo, 3rd of May, or 17th of February -- I don't really care, as long as families gather together."
The consul of Mexico in Las Vegas, Julian Escutia, explains why Cinco de Mayo is wildly celebrated on this side of the border.
"The Chicano movement really felt that this celebration characterized them for their resilience because of persistence as well," he said. "We stopped the French intervention in the Americas. President Lincoln was very thankful to Mexico because we stopped them."
While its popularity in the U.S. can also be credited to American companies looking to sell more products, the day has also become a way to embrace Mexican culture.
“It’s just another opportunity to show how much we contribute to this country and how proud we are of our ancestors and our roots, “ said Escutia.
Many Las Vegas area families celebrated at the East Las Vegas Community Center and enjoyed Mexican traditional dances, mariachi music and lots of food.
Some also got their COVID-19 shot as walks-in appointments were accepted.
If you're celebrating tonight, great Mexican food, awesome music and refreshing drinks are certainly part of the equation. Just remember, to celebrate safely: don't drink and drive, and wear a mask and keep your distance.
More history of Cinco de Mayo: