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Cinco de Mayo - A Family Event!

The Emerald Downs Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is running neck-and-neck with the annual picnic for the Washington HBPA’s signature event status. In 2003, the Washington HBPA started celebrating the holiday that symbolizes Mexican unity and patriotism and authentically celebrates the Mexican militia’s defeat of the French army in the 1862 battle, “Batalla de Pueba.”

Over 200 attended this year’s party, which featured a buffet dinner and exuberant dancing by adults and children alike. Now in its eighth year at Emerald Downs, the party has becomes more of a family affair than it was in its early years. Equally encouraging is the growth in attendance by non-Latino owners and trainers who, like the Washington HBPA, participate in the event as a way to honor and share the culture of a population that contributes so much to the Washington Thoroughbred industry.

Besides Mexican music and dancing, in accordance with the Latin theme, Francisco Romero amazed the crowd with his lariat skills, and Carol Richardson entertained the audience and participants with a Zumba demonstration.

The word “zumba” is Spanish slang for "to move fast and have fun," and it is the name of a fitness program which combines Latin and international music with dance in an effort to make exercise fun. Carol teaches classes throughout South King County and the Seattle area. Because of the audience’s enthusiastic response, the Washington HBPA is working on starting a program that will bring Carol and Zumba to back to Emerald Downs.

The Washington HBPA staff wishes to acknowledge all volunteers, contributors, and the many child and adult participants who contributed to a successful night of fun. Special thanks to Emerald Downs staff and NWRA management for their continued support and sponsorship of the Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Without volunteers, the events like Cinco de Mayo are not possible. Thank you to Jose “Paco” Gonzalez, Luis Romo, Mackenzie O’Connell-Noble, and Haley O’Connell for volunteering to decorate. “Paco” also provided all the sound tracks and served as DJ with Job Hinojoza.

A now recognized face and supporter of both Cinco de Mayo and the Washington HBPA picnic, Mario Vela once again graciously provided the sound system. Greatly missed this year was Mario’s father, Israel “Roy” Vela, who passed away last October. At several past Washington HBPA events, Roy had shared his talents and experiences as host and originator of the first Seattle Latin radio program (1963) with the Emerald Downs community.

Also to be commended for helping are Luis Romo, who miraculously reappeared to assist with cleanup, Karen Saxon for welcoming guests and taking tickets, and the Quarter Chute Café, which had its staff diligently worked on ticket sales in the restaurant and via Kelli Amundson and the “Burrito Cart.”

This year’s proceeds from Cinco de Mayo benefit the Backstretch Clubhouse Learning Center.

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