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Despite concerns, Detroit's Cinco de Mayo goes off without a hitch

May 7, 2017

Detroit’s Cinco de Mayo celebration took place Sunday, two days after the actual Mexican holiday.

Families lined Vernor Avenue, southwest Detroit’s main thoroughfare, for the annual parade and festivities.

The parade was led by two students from Detroit’s Cesar Chavez Academy. Lourdes Escobedo carried the American flag, “representing the USA, and all the immigrants here in the USA,” while her classmate Stephanie Duran Lopez carried the Mexican flag.

“It means a lot, because all my family’s Mexican. So I’m supporting them,” Duran Lopez said.

This year, some community members worried the parade could be a prime target for ramped-up immigration enforcement under the Trump administration.

There was a heavy Detroit police presence, but Chief James Craig had taken pains to reassure the community their only interest was public safety, not immigration status.

The event had been dogged by some violent incidents in recent years, including a fatal shooting in 2014. There were some questions about whether it should continue as an annual event.

But whatever concerns lingered, this year’s parade had a friendly, relaxed vibe.

Eliezer Diaz informally joined the procession on his mini-motorbike, sporting both Mexican and Puerto Rican flags.

“Every culture is coming together, like Hispanic culture is coming together and enjoying themselves,” Diaz said. “It’s a beautiful thing to see, you know, down here in Detroit.”

For some, the parade is about more than the Mexican holiday and Detroit’s Latino community — it’s a bigger celebration of diversity and neighborhood pride.

Brittany Barry, who’s African American, wore a sweatshirt that said “Southwest Queen.”

“This is where I was born and raised,” Barry said. She said this year’s crowd seemed a little smaller than usual, but the parade “is a wonderful thing. I love it, and I hope they continue to do it every year.”