Durango to celebrate … Dos de Mayo?

Buckley Park festivities will honor the holiday

The location may have changed, but the party won't skip a beat when Durango's Cinco de Mayo celebration kicks off Sunday morning in Buckley Park.

The local Cinco de Mayo festival had been held in Santa Rita Park for the last 15 years, but sponsoring organizationDel Alma chose to move its party on Saturday to the Sky Ute Casino Resort in Ignacio. That's great news for Ignacio,but it would have left a huge void in Durango were it not for the efforts of Fort Lewis College student Melisa Smith,who grew up in Durango and couldn't imagine her hometown without a Cinco de Mayo celebration.

“I think the thing that motivated me the most is that Del Alma wasn't going to do it, and this has been a tradition forall of us here for years, since I was a little girl - why should we just let it go away?" Smith said.

A member of FLC's Club del Centro, Smith approached Shirena Trujillo Long, who heads El Centro de Muchos Colores, thecampus club's umbrella registered student organization that oversees several other clubs, for help. Long put Smith intouch with several community leaders and businesses, as well as many of the previous participants in Cincos de Mayopast, but she said Sunday's festivities will be the result of hard work by Smith and about 15 of her peer clubmembers.

“I'm just really proud of my students," Long said.

“They've stood up, bridged this gap with the community, and we completely planned the event based on what they want tosee. I think it's going to be great."

Other than the new locale, attendees of previous festivals won't notice many differences between this year's party andyears past. The park will be full of food and craft vendors, cultural information and service organization booths and astage chock-full of rotating performers all day long. Those include the debut performance by FLC's Baile Folkloricodance troupe, a set by the Albuquerque Latin-rock band Chicanisimo, Latin jazz by the Durango Stillwater Foundation'sQue Pasa group, and an exhibition of Zumba, a fitness-oriented dance style with a Latin flair that's exploding inpopularity nationwide.

Rather than giving herself a pat on the back like her mentor Long and just about everyone else involved in makingSunday's bash a reality, Smith on Thursday instead was just looking forward to another day of fun in the sun, weatherpermitting.

The current forecast calls for a 20 percent chance of rain and a high of 54 degrees, so we'll see how that turnsout.

“It's something that's always been there for us, and one of my favorite things to do every year is go out and see theentertainment, eat great food and have fun," Smith said.

ted@durangoherald.com