Cinco de Mayo: ‘It’s about fun, partying and good Mexican food’

Posted May 05, 2014, at 5:27 a.m.
Josie Barth (left) and Abby Donnelly of Cape Elizabeth dance to the sounds of the Maine Marimba Ensemble at an early Cinco de Mayo celebration at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday. Intermittent hail and rain showers did little to dampen the spirits of those on hand.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Josie Barth (left) and Abby Donnelly of Cape Elizabeth dance to the sounds of the Maine Marimba Ensemble at an early Cinco de Mayo celebration at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday. Intermittent hail and rain showers did little to dampen the spirits of those on hand. Buy Photo
Members of the Maine Marimba Ensemble (from left) Elliot Heeschen, Jacob Wolff, Matt Wasowski and Zebulon Kelley, beat out party music on their Zimbabwe-style marimbas at El Ray Taqueria in Portland on Sunday in honor of Cinco de Mayo. The unofficial holiday marks the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the battle of Puebla in 1862.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Members of the Maine Marimba Ensemble (from left) Elliot Heeschen, Jacob Wolff, Matt Wasowski and Zebulon Kelley, beat out party music on their Zimbabwe-style marimbas at El Ray Taqueria in Portland on Sunday in honor of Cinco de Mayo. The unofficial holiday marks the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the battle of Puebla in 1862. Buy Photo
Mallets move in a blur as the Maine Marimba Ensemble plays dance music at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday at an early Cinco de Mayo celebration on Sunday.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Mallets move in a blur as the Maine Marimba Ensemble plays dance music at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday at an early Cinco de Mayo celebration on Sunday. Buy Photo
Children dance and play at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday during an early Cinco de Mayo celebration. They are (clockwise from left) James Fletcher, 10, Nathan Fletcher, 8, Madison Marquis, 10, Katelyn Munro, 10, and Elise Marquis, 8.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Children dance and play at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday during an early Cinco de Mayo celebration. They are (clockwise from left) James Fletcher, 10, Nathan Fletcher, 8, Madison Marquis, 10, Katelyn Munro, 10, and Elise Marquis, 8. Buy Photo
Chris Duffey and Alexa Bradt dance and enjoy the food at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday afternoon in Portland at a Cinco de Mayo celebration. The unofficial holiday marks the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the battle of Puebla in 1862.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Chris Duffey and Alexa Bradt dance and enjoy the food at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday afternoon in Portland at a Cinco de Mayo celebration. The unofficial holiday marks the victory of the Mexican army over the French at the battle of Puebla in 1862. Buy Photo
Katelyn Munro, 10, (from left) Madison Marquis, 10, and Elise Marquis, 8, dance to the music of the Maine Marimba Ensemble at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday during an early Cinco de Mayo Celebration.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Katelyn Munro, 10, (from left) Madison Marquis, 10, and Elise Marquis, 8, dance to the music of the Maine Marimba Ensemble at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday during an early Cinco de Mayo Celebration. Buy Photo
Matt Wasowski (right) and Zebulon Kelley beat out song on Zimbabwe-style instruments with the Maine Marimba Ensemble in Portland on Sunday. The group was on hand at El Rayo Taqueria to help celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
Troy R. Bennett | BDN
Matt Wasowski (right) and Zebulon Kelley beat out song on Zimbabwe-style instruments with the Maine Marimba Ensemble in Portland on Sunday. The group was on hand at El Rayo Taqueria to help celebrate Cinco de Mayo. Buy Photo

PORTLAND, Maine — Not everyone celebrating Cinco de Mayo a day early at El Rayo Taqueria in Portland on Sunday knew what the Mexican holiday was all about, but most had a good time eating, drinking and dancing to the vibrant sounds of the Maine Marimba Ensemble without the particulars.

“I’m not too sure what Cinco de Mayo is all about,” said Abby Donnelly of Cape Elizabeth as she sported a sombrero and sunglasses.

Her friend and dancing partner, Josie Barth, had her own take on the mysterious celebration.

“I think here, Cinco de Mayo, at least at El Rayo, is about music and getting people all together and having a good time,” she said.

Nearby, a group of children frolliced to the Zimbabwe-style marimba music coming from the stage under a tent. They confidently knew the Spanish translation was “fifth of May,” but beyond that, they were unclear.

For the record, Cinco de Mayo marks the badly outnumbered Mexican army’s victory over the invading French at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. The French went on to conquer Mexico, but their rule only lasted a few years and the unlikely win remains a source of pride south of the border. It is not, as many think, Mexican independence day. That falls in September.

Details aside, Cinco de Mayo has become the Mexican version of St. Patrick’s Day in many places. It’s a day to celebrate Mexican culture, but also to have a few drinks, dance and eat some tasty ethnic food.

Chris Dumont summed it up while standing behind a grill, dishing out veggie kabobs, chips, salsa, guacamole and chicken.

“It’s about fun, partying and good Mexican food,” he said.

 

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