Celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year in an exciting Omaha community — El Centro in South Omaha. If you haven’t yet taken part in the traditional festivities that go on in this culturally diverse neighborhood, you’re in for a treat.
We don’t say “traditional” lightly; the South Omaha Latino community has hosted Cinco de Mayo events since the early 1930s. And we don’t say “festivities” lightly either. There are so many events taking place the weekend after Cinco de Mayo in El Centro — including a grand parade, a Race of the Bulls run, delicious food, lively music, and more!
Let’s take a look at all the festivities this community has in store May 6–8, as well as a few other notable features of this diverse neighborhood.
Thursday, May 5
Countdown to Cinco de Mayo | 5:30–7:30 p.m.
Wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves by going straight to the weekend’s festivities. On the 5th of May (or Cinco de Mayo, if you will), OneWorld Community Health Centers will host their annual Cinco de Mayo celebration. This event features authentic cuisine, drinks and live music to get you in the spirit of the Mexican holiday. Grab your tickets for $30 in advance or $35 the day of. Each ticket includes two drink tickets, authentic food, and a live performance by PatO & the Show.
But perhaps the best part of these tickets is that all funds raised will support OneWorld’s Baby Boutique, an incentive program that encourages women to seek early and consistent prenatal care by providing them with baby essentials they may not be able to afford. Additionally, attendees to this Cinco de Mayo celebration are encouraged to donate new baby items in exchange for a complimentary drink ticket. Check out the event page for more information about the most-needed items.
Photos Courtesy of Cinco de Mayo Omaha.
Friday, May 6
Miss/Little Miss Coronation | 5:30 p.m.
The weekend festivities commence with a special Miss/Little Miss Coronation, where you’ll see participants hoping to be this year’s Miss and Little Miss Cinco de Mayo. Cheer for these beautiful women and young women, and admire the latest trends from Modest Bride worn by the contestants!
Carnival (May 6–8) | 5:30–10:30 p.m.
Don’t miss the action-packed Cinco de Mayo carnival on 24th Street from 5:30 to 10:30 p.m. — happening Friday through Sunday. All of your favorite rides and midway games have returned for another year of celebration and carefree carnival festivities. You may purchase an all-day carnival ride pass at any Supermercado Nuestra Familia store for a $5 discount. Don’t miss the food and beer garden at the carnival as well!
Concert | 6:30 p.m.
Montez de Durango will be performing on the main stage/plaza at 6:30 p.m. for just $5 or free for those 12 and under. This band’s traditional Mexican music will get you in the mood for all things Cinco de Mayo!
Saturday, May 7
Race of the Bulls | 9:30 a.m.
You may be initially disappointed to discover that the Race of the Bulls in El Centro doesn’t involve actual bulls, but that will be immediately replaced with the joy and excitement you’ll feel during this second-annual community event. Runners and walkers will travel down the parade route while being chased by bull-costumed mascots just before the parade begins. This is a one-of-a-kind fitness race you won’t want to miss — whether you’re watching from the sidelines or running down the road. Register in advance and get to the start line at 24th and D Streets before 9:15 a.m. to be a part of the pre-parade madness!
One of the most exciting sensations for runners and spectators alike is the enticing smell of Mexican food in the air as you walk (or run) along 24th Street! This will prepare your senses for the amazing food in your future.
Photos Courtesy of Race of the Bulls.
Annual Cinco de Mayo Parade | 10 a.m.
Parades are one of the most festive and exciting ways to celebrate a community, a holiday, an event, or traditions. The annual Cinco de Mayo parade in El Centro is a way to celebrate all of the above in a larger-than-life manner. In fact, this is one of the largest parades in the Midwest, featuring floats, marching bands, and various entertainers. This parade draws large crowds and lots of excitement along historic 24th Street starting at 10 a.m. — rain or shine!
Sunday, May 8
Mariachi Mass + Christian Service | 10:30 a.m.
Take part in a unique outdoor Sunday morning Mass on the main stage/plaza featuring liturgical music led by a mariachi band and Assumption-Guadalupe Catholic Church. Additionally, there will be a special Christian service held on 24th and M Streets during this time. All in all, this will be a special morning for the community!
Mother’s Day Concert | 4 p.m.
Banda Troyana will present a special Mother’s Day concert at 4 p.m. on the main stage/plaza to wrap up the weekend’s festivities. Admission is $10 for gentlemen/caballeros and $5 for ladies/damas (in light of Mother’s Day). Additionally, all mothers get in for free if they present a First National Bank debit or credit card the day of the show, and those 12 and under are free as well. This will be a wonderful community event perfect for the entire family — especially mom!
Other Notable Features of the El Centro Community
While there is a large Latino population in this neighborhood, as can be inferred from the community’s emphasis on Cinco de Mayo, El Centro is home to people of many different ethnic backgrounds, including Czech, Italian, Polish, Lithuanian, Irish, and more. Thousands of European immigrants came to this area in the late 1800s and early 1900s to work for the booming meat packing industry.
Today, there is a unified “South Omaha culture” that exists in this diverse region, which has created an exciting and vibrant area — particularly along the 24th Street corridor. Additionally, many changes have occurred over the years, including the conversion of the Livestock Exchange Building into a health center, condominiums and a popular venue for social gatherings.
You can find well-maintained homes in the El Centro area covering all price ranges. In addition to being diverse in its demographic makeup, this area has a diverse selection of homes and various neighborhood landscapes.
El Centro is home to one of the world’s best tourist attractions — the Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium. In fact, it was named the best zoo in the entire world. We may be biased, but we certainly second this motion! You can also visit the beautiful Lauritzen Botanical Gardens in El Centro, a living museum featuring unique four-season plant displays.
Photos Courtesy of Omaha Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
It’s quite obvious that we love El Centro!
What do you appreciate about this diverse and vibrant neighborhood? Let us know!