I got to Calle Dos Cinco sometime after noon. The annual parade had just started and, almost immediately, the intense feeling of Latino pride was thankfully surrounding me. After all, my people had made it almost another year in Oklahoma City and, that alone, is a reason for us all to celebrate.
As I strolled the side street where the vendor booths were set up, I was handed goodies like otherworldly candy, gift certificates, and many other freebies, filling my hands to the best of their ability. I was gracious enough and accepted them all, remembering that you never get free stuff at most other festivals, at least the ones I’ve been to recently.
As I stuffed them into the recyclable shopping bag I was given by the good people at Morelos Super Mercado, I entered onto the cross street and caught the parade just as a line of cars holding the highly esteemed pageant queens went by, waving and smiling and looking their best. This side of town is so different than where I live, and I mean that in a good way. The best way.
On the sidewalk behind me, locals from all over went to and fro, laughing over a joke, straightening their costumes, or sharing snacks they had purchased from a food truck up the street. There was an absolute feeling of total togetherness, as the Fiestas de la Americas, over their sixteen or so years in town, has built a reputation for bringing every single semblance of Latin culture together in the warm embrace of armonía pacífica.
I felt that warm embrace.
As the parade was winding down, there was a crew of women in the middle of workout routine, a sunlit succession of primo Low Riders, and strong-chested vaqueros riding on horseback, one caballero proudly carrying the Mexican flag. As the Oklahoma City Police Department finished the parade to a mild scattering of weak applause, the lines broke and citizens filled the streets.
Walking from one end of the festival to the other, I started to feel a bit parched, so I stopped at Rika’s Botanas, a truck that specialized in the kind of drinks I normally crave but rarely get. Mixing a Jarritos soda with plenty of other relatable liquids and appropriate spices—not to mention the pina and other fruits on top—I slowly sipped my tasty drink in sheer amazement at how, for the moment, it was absolutely perfect.
One thing I was truly amazed at, personally, however, were the amount of people that stopped me to tell me how much they appreciate what I’m doing at the Lost Ogle; many of them I didn’t know, many of them I didn’t know that follow me personally—one person even asking how I was doing since the stroke. It was a very humbling moment for me and, if I was a weaker man, would’ve brought a tear to my eye.
Supongo que estoy haciendo algo bien, ¿verdad?
I took one last walk through the Fiestas’ festivities, making sure that I take every bit of it all in, at least enough to last me until next year. At least I thought I did, but I guess I left a few minutes too early; not long after, inspirational impresario Danny Trejo surprisingly showed up and, once again, I missed him. Of course.