Monday, May 5, 2008

NOT Cinco de Mayo in Sunset Park

Yesterday, we returned home from a weekend away to feathers and whips. No, no. It's not what you're thinking. It seemed that Sunset Park was celebrating Cinco de Mayo in true, flashy, snapping form. At first, we thought that people were setting off fireworks or those snapper things. We soon saw that it was the snap of huge rope whips that was filling the air with pops and slaps.

There was a lot of food, the obligatory plastic toy sales, the ices that I prefer to the ice cream truck that idles at 6th and 44th ALL DAY LONG, tostadas, elote, and lots of lounging and sunning and napping. It was a perfectly sunny and beautiful day.

The costumes (probably Ecuadorian?) certainly got away from the stereotypical Cinco de Mayo straw sombreros and blanket coverings. The masks were uniform, but the head gear and capes and outfits were intricate and varied. I saw a couple that were quite suggestive. They looked like the could have been advertising some of the places on Third or Second Avenue. Most, however, were just beautiful and avoided looking gaudy.

Since I couldn't find much about this celebration (any help?), here's some items about Cinco de Mayo. There seems to be some dispute regarding the background to Cinco de Mayo, but it's surely a day to celebrate Mexican heritage and traditions. It is a big deal in NYC because most of our Mexican residents hail from the Puebla area; that's where Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico. I'm posting several links that explain the history of Cinco de Mayo.

This link sounds like it was written by a cheerleader for Mexican/USA relations.

This one is from "The Oldest and Most Trusted Online Guide to Mexico."

Here's one that is succinct (despite a couple of spelling missteps).

And, of course, my favorite, Wikipedia.

I didn't get great photos because I had my tiny, less than effective with colorful detail camera with me. If anyone has better photos, please send them along!


Rachel said...

Dang, I wish I had seen this blog post earlier! I would have loved to have attended some festivities! Instead I spent half the day at WIC being mistreated. AHH! Why are our social services so messed up?

Matthew said...

I was actually perplexed by this gathering, too, since it didn't occur on May 5 and Cinqo de Mayo isn't celebrated in the way I was witnessing in the park (if it's celebrated at all in non-Pueblo Mexico). So I did a little research. I'm pretty sure that what we witnessed was in fact the Ecuadorian/Peruvian festival called Festival of the Crosses (see

"The dancing is the most interesting part - all the men dress in bright sparkly costumes, and whip each other on the calves in displays of machismo, sometimes until they bleed."

If you'd been around earlier you would've seen the crucifixes and gatherings in front of local churches. It was quite a sight... Thanks for posting the terrific pics of the festival.

BestViewInBrooklyn said...

Thank you, Matthew. I was wondering why the headdresses looked so non-Mexican. And none of the research I did for Cinco de Mayo came up with anything close. I guess I put it down to cultures blending. However, considering that it went on this past Sunday as well, I should have known better!