SHAFTER, Calif. (KGET) — The Cinco de Mayo Committee in Shafter is hosting the first Cinco de Mayo Parade since the pandemic began.
“It would have been our 30th year if it had not been for the pandemic,” said Deanna Rodriguez Root, co-chair of the committee. “Consequently it’s our 29th year so we can’t celebrate an anniversary.”
The parade is scheduled for Saturday, April 30, pending weather, at 10 a.m. Festivities will continue at Mannel Park. This year’s grand marshal is Manuel Garcia, former football coach at Shafter High and past city council member.
“One year I decided to cancel it because of the weather,” Rodriguez Root said, adding the fields were flooded. “People were so mad at me.”
Root co-chairs the committee with her daughter, Brandi Root, who took her father’s place on the committee when he passed away. Root said this parade is definitely a family day. She said there have been as many as 5,000 to 7,000 people show up from Shafter, Arizona, Los Angeles and Fresno.
“Kids that grew up and moved away from the area but still have family here come back for this parade and will make a weekend of it,” Rodriguez Root said.
But she said she worries the residual effects from the pandemic might keep people away.
Rodriguez Root said morale during the pandemic was low. The parade is something the city is looking forward to to get back outside and be with people.
She said the committee was even debating whether to have the parade this year because of the all the new variants that kept emerging.
“I want everybody to be safe and have a good time and enjoy this parade,” Rodriguez Root said.
Rodriguez Root said they will be honoring the Shafter Fire Department and the Shafter Police Department for their work during the pandemic.
While no COVID-19 restrictions will be enforced, Rodriguez Root suggests children under 5 wear masks.
She said people can expect a very colorful parade. They will have horses, low riders, antique cars and planes, trucks, food and booths for local businesses, Rodriguez Root said.
“A lot of history,” Rodriguez Root said.
She added a lot of school organizations including the Shafter High band and the elementary school band will also participate.
Local churches and service organizations use the parade as an opportunity for fundraising, Rodriguez Root said. The committee also offers scholarships to Shafter High or college students and donations to youth organizations around town.
To participate in the parade, apply online or call Rodriguez Root at 661-910-2797.
“We just hope everybody shows up and it turns out to be a good day,” she said.