Virginia Avenue Park hosted a record crowd for Santa Monica’s Cinco de Mayo festival on Sunday, May 4, featuring an afternoon of entertainment, food, a classic car show, and an exuberant community celebration.
“This is the biggest crowd we’ve had yet” in the more than 10 years of the festival, said park director Betty Macias.
The car show, added to the festival last year, was back again with a remarkable array of vehicles, some meticulously restored to their original condition and some customized to fanciful designs. Trophies were awarded for the best cars from the 1930s, 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s, as well as best truck/SUV, best custom, best paint, and best in show. Then there was the Mayor’s Trophy, based on the judgment of Mayor Herb Katz, and the Chiefs’ Trophy, based on the shared judgment of Police Chief Tim Jackman and Fire Chief Jim Hone.
The entertainment stage was emceed by performance artist Maria Elena Gaitan, and featured the young dancing troupe Grupo Folklorico Centeotl and the music of Mariachi Estrella de Jalisco, among others. Gaitan informed the audience with her commentaries on history and culture, and she inspired a sense of community as she alternately translated English to Spanish and Spanish to English with an ease and enthusiasm that brought a strong sense of unity to the afternoon.
Booths and stands featured food from Frida Taqueria, a selection of jewelry and lotions, Oaxacan art, Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services, and Trader Joe’s market, among others.
At last year’s inaugural car show at the Santa Monica festival, Chevys walked away (or drove away) with all the awards. But while Chevrolets certainly dominated the entries again this year, the Best in Show trophy went to Armando Aguirre’s 1979 Lincoln Continental Mark V, which also won the Best Paint trophy. The Chevys came through, though, with the Mayor’s Trophy going to Jose Barba’s 1965 Impala and the Chiefs’ Trophy going to Herky Casio’s 1936 four-door sedan. All of those winners were born and raised in Santa Monica.