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El Retorno: Cinco de Mayo is Finally Back in OKC!

5:24 AM EDT on May 3, 2021

Sometime before one in the afternoon, many of Oklahoma City’s proud Mexican citizens showed up at Scissortail Park this Sunday to find a good spot in the anemic sun to watch the constant stream of bands that were continually playing every subgenre of música, all the celebrate, finally, the return of Cinco de Mayo.

There wasn’t really a celebration last year and when I talked to Robert Ruiz, president of the Scissortail Community Development Corporation, he spoke of not only how important this event is to the Latinx population of Oklahoma City, but the entire city in general, bringing people from all over together to explore what the community has to offer.

As I walked down the sides of the park, with a mixture of food trucks and Mexican goods for sale, I was amazed and moved by how successful this proved to be, with most of the place taken up in the name of absolute pride—orgullo—featuring many men and women in their best clothes, celebrating the holiday with a drink in one hand and a treat in the other.

Passing by stands featuring homemade candied apples, ready-to-wear botas and anchors from the area Telemundo station, a banda with a deep and heavy tuba was playing onstage, a slower tune that had many of the people in the front row holding hands and slow dancing. Whether it was the absence of love or not, I will admit to pangs in my heart.

There were Takis and other snacks for sale in a booming area and, oddly enough, Stephanie Bice’s representatives standing by their lonesome, seemingly the only politico to show up, at least by proxy. The libations were flowing on most corners, as well as the tendencia caliente of flavored seltzer, each can with a free Kentucky Derby koozie that they must have had a surplus on.

Another band took the stage, skillfully playing one more song that mainstream radio doesn’t like. Admittedly, there was a strange sense of self-segregation as many of the white festivalgoers sat on towels far back on the hill; maybe they knew it was best to leave these celebrations to the people that had earned them.

I went down to the street near the much unneeded new convention center, past the angelic free Covid inoculations – talk about doing God’s work – and noticed a beautifully decorated food truck with a large loteria board in front. Taco N Ganas – or Taco and Desire, in English – seemed like something from the most delicious dream and one I didn’t want to wake from.

With a loteria card—El Tambor—as my ticket, I had to try the warm and fresh Quesabirria—pricey but worth it—with a remarkably fresh horchata on the side. Even their business card featuring a punked-out Frida Kahlo was new territory that tells me I’ve got to get down to their place at 5801 S. Western soon and see what’s going on.

I sat on the bench next to the truck, visibly enraptured with my eats as another band took the stage. It was all a piece of my culture that visibly—finally—meant something to mainstream Oklahoma City. It was a day of amor puro that left me counting the hours until next year, a celebration of mi gente that filled my heart with Mexican pride for this city and state.

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Cinco De Mayo, Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.

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