Photo Slideshow: Cinco de Mayo parade
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The Cinco de Mayo parade Saturday made a long, slow, straight shot down 24th Street.
It took about 2 1/2 hours for 115 parade entries to walk and roll the 13-block path through South Omaha.
“Faster! Rapido!” yelled Itzel Lopez.
The tough task of keeping the lumbering parade moving fell to her. Lopez, who stands about 4-foot-11, kept a file folder under her arm and scampered up and down 24th Street to encourage action.
“Can you move a little bit faster?” she said to one group without sounding harsh.
Somehow a huge dead zone formed between the Cox Communications group and First National Bank's Mexican dancers and band.
“Two whole blocks,” Lopez said, describing the size of the hole in the parade. She waved forward the dancers in orange, blue, raspberry and lime-colored dresses, the band and the First National employees.
“Oh my goodness,” said Lopez, assistant coordinator of the Cinco de Mayo festivities.
There was no rushing this beast of a parade. It just kept coming. Slowly.
Thousands of spectators sat in folding chairs or stood, sometimes seven deep, in the street and on the curb and sidewalk.
On rumbled the Mexican horse riders and petting zoo, the banks and credit unions, the boxers and Boy Scouts, the kids of Girls Inc. and the Girl Scouts. Here came the church reps and Mariachi bands, towing and concrete companies, Union Pacific and the University of Nebraska at Omaha, the school bands and politicians.
“It's a great day,” said Art Nino, who rode his bicycle along with the parade. He wore black shorts and a brightly colored Mexico bicycling jersey. “There's a lot of nationalities here.”
The Ancient Order of Hibernians took part, representing Irish heritage, and numerous north Omaha drill teams performed.
But the Cinco de Mayo festivities largely celebrated Mexican culture.
A 71-year-old lady, Maria G. Vazquez, walked the entire parade in a long, green, red and white Mexican dress and black shoes with moderately high heels. When she reached the end, she stayed to watch the rest of the parade.
Vazquez said in Spanish that she represented her nearby church, Our Lady of Guadalupe. Asked how she felt making the hike in the heat and humidity, she said she was just fine.
Meanwhile, Itzel Lopez waved the parade along. Standing alongside the route, her 7-year-old daughter Jazmin yelled out to her and jumped into her arms.
Then it was back to work for Lopez, who herded the parade to its end.
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