As the first city-sponsored event in the new plaza, many residents said they were at the gathering — which is part of the Downtown Block Party series — to check out the new space and enjoy the performances by Latin Essence and Mariachi Colima.
City officials opened the $3.8 million plaza at Sixth Street and Central Avenue on April 30.
“I wanted to reunite with my roots; I’m third-generation Tracyite,” Susan Campos said. “It’s all right, good music. I didn’t know what to expect. When I grew up, Cinco de Mayo celebration was big at the Portuguese Hall.”
Accompanying Campos was her friend Sandra Raimondi, who also attended with her relatives, 9-year-old Page and 7-year-old Joseph.
“It’s my first time,” she said. “It was a chance to bring the kids to Cinco de Mayo. I’ve been telling them about it.”
In addition to the live music, there were also food and beverage vendors in the grassy area closest to Central Avenue. The grassy area quickly became a popular spot for children to play and dance to the music.
“I’ve lived here 18 years, and I’ve never come down here,” said Lorna Stephenson, as she sat and listened to Mariachi Colima perform. “I wanted to experience the park and the culture. They did a nice job down here.”
Tracy Recreation Manager Kim Scarlata said city officials dubbed the free event a huge success, estimating the crowds at about 700 people. She said it was the first city-sponsored Cinco De Mayo celebration.
“It was fabulous,” she said. “People never stopped coming. Our intent was to bring all the block parties down to the plaza once it was built, for a community gathering.”
Scarlata said feedback from those attending the Cinco de Mayo celebration were all positive, and many said they couldn’t wait for the next block party, which will be June 8 for a Blues & Brews night with performer Zakiya Hooker. Scarlata said one of their goals with the plaza was to draw people downtown so they could patronize the local businesses.
“Perfect kickoff to the block parties,” Scarlata said. “We brought together a mix of cultural diversity, all ages, all races. I definitely hope to be able to do it again next year.”