By Joanna Meza and R. Nicanor Santana
Downtown Santa Ana swelled with crowds for the 16th annual Cinco de Mayo Festival from May 1 to May 3.
Carnival rides, more than 15 food stations and Grammy-winning performers entertained thousands of visitors over three days.
“Average attendance, is always about 200,000, sometimes 300,000,” fair manager Curtis Ackerman said.
Kids lined up to ride the mini bumblebees and bumper cars. Adults were treated to the terrifying kamikaze hammer that spun them around and upside down. Traditional rides like the ferris wheel and carousel were also present.
The scent of carnitas and popcorn wafted throughout the grounds. Tacos with spicy salsa and tortas ahogadas had the cooks busy pushing out orders.
“I come here for my daughter,” Santa Ana resident Ana Rodriguez said in Spanish.
Knick-knacks and memorabilia, including shirts with the Mexican flag, bracelets with images of saints and plastic toys for kids were on sale.
The carnival company Christiansen Amusements has been hosting the event in Santa Ana for years.
“My second year here is when we first started this event in the city of Santa Ana,” said Ackerman, who has been working with the carnival since 1992.
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican army’s improbable victory over the French. The Mexican army was less than half the size of the French, who were busy attempting to extend the territories in 1862.