Gila Valley celebrates Cinco de Mayo

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A youth rides his ‘lowrider’ trike in the Cinco de Mayo parade through Downtown Safford on Saturday.

By Jon Johnson

SAFFORD – Mexican heritage was on display Saturday as the Gila Valley celebrated Cinco de Mayo a day early with a parade in Downtown Safford, followed by a daylong event of food and entertainment at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church.

Cinco de Mayo celebrates the victory of the Mexican Army led by General Ignacio Zaragoza over the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. 

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: Graham County Sheriff P.J. Allred, left, and Safford Police Chief Joe Brugman mosey on down the parade route.

The French were there to set up a monarchy for Maximilian of Austria. While the Mexicans were outnumbered two-to-one, roughly 1,000 French troops were killed during the battle versus less than 100 Mexican troops. 

The battle became a rallying call and eventually the French left Mexico in 1866. 

After hearing about the battle, those of Mexican heritage in the United States who supported democracy and were going through the United States’ Civil War celebrated voraciously. Today, in the USA, we continue to celebrate the victory for democracy and Mexican heritage. 

In Mexico itself, however, the holiday pales to Mexico’s Independence Day, which is celebrated on Sept. 16. 

Click here to see a photo album of the parade.  

Jon Johnson Photo/Gila Herald: A parade entrant waves to the crowd.