Cinco de Mayo falls on Saturday this year, the same day as the Kentucky Derby, a happy coincidence that has many restaurants and bars planning cross-cultural celebrations. That sounds like something worth raising a glass for, doesn’t it?
I’m not really sure it lives up to it it’s billing as “the greatest two minutes in sports,” but I do know that the traditions and parties that it inspires make The Kentucky Derby one of the most anticipated days of the spring.
The Derby is frequently referred to as “The Run for the Roses,” because a lush blanket of 554 red roses is awarded to the Kentucky Derby winner each year. The tradition is as a result of New York socialite E. Berry Wall presenting roses to ladies at a post-Derby party in 1883 that was attended by Churchill Downs founder and president, Col. M. Lewis Clark. This gesture is believed to have eventually led Clark to the idea of making the rose the race’s official flower. However, it was not until 1896 that any recorded account referred to roses being draped on the Derby winner.
The Drink: No Derby party would be complete without Mint Juleps- an iced drink consisting of bourbon, mint and a sugar syrup. Check out DMM Mixologist Brian Petro’s article for more info.
The Song: If you’ve had enough juleps, at some point you may feel the inspiration to burst into the song. Since 1936, My Old Kentucky Home has been performed by the University of Louisville Marching Band as the horses make their way to the starting gate. I’ve never been to a party where folks knew all the words to the song, so as a favor to all- here they are:
By Stephen Foster
The sun shines bright in the old Kentucky home,
Tis summer, the people are gay;
The corn-top’s ripe and the meadow’s in the bloom
While the birds make music all the day.
The young folks roll on the little cabin floor
All merry, all happy and bright;
By’n by hard times comes a knocking at the door
Then my old Kentucky home, Good-night!
Weep no more my lady. Oh! Weep no more today!
We will sing one song for my old Kentucky home
For the old Kentucky home, far away.
The Hat: On the Kentucky Derby website they state: “Part Southern tradition, part spectacle, the Kentucky Derby hat parade is much of what makes “The Greatest Two Minutes in Sports” one of the greatest people-watching events in the world! From the fantastic to the sublime, there are no rules or limits when it comes to choosing your Derby hat. Whether to make a statement or just keep the sun at bay, Kentucky Derby hats are part of the tradition and the pageantry that make a trip to the Derby an unforgettable experience.
Ways to Celebrate Derby Day in Dayton:
Start your day with a Derby Dash at Riverscape to benefit Life Essentials at Riverscape.
This annual event starts at 9am, with registration at 8am. From fun runs for the kids to a 5K walk run for the adults, costumes and teams are encouraged to join this festive fundraiser. Prizes are awarded for participants in various age categories, farthest distance traveled, and best hat!
3rd annual Derby Day Brunch at Brio 11am – 1pm
This fundraiser for the Women’s Wellness Fund include a “Hat Strut”, a silent auction & roaming models from merchants at The Greene.
What is Cinco de Mayo?
While often mistaken for Mexican Independence Day, Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Mexican Army’s astonishing triumph over the French that took place on May 5, 1862. The Mexican Army was greatly outnumbered by the French, who had also not lost a battle in over fifty years!
There are various Cinco de Mayo traditions that are celebrated around the world. In Mexico, most of the Cinco de Mayo celebrations that take place occur in the town of Puebla (where the battle took place). There are large parades that feature people dressed up as Mexican and French soldiers.
In the United States and some parts of Canada, people often host Cinco de Mayo parties with their friends and family.
The Colors: Red, white and green, representing the Mexican flag often appear in costumes and party decorations. People decorate for Cinco de Mayo with balloons, streamers, and flowers.
The Music: Mariachi bands or other Mexican folk music is also played at these celebrations and there is often traditional Mexican dancing.
The Food: A feast of traditional Mexican dishes such as tacos, enchiladas, and salsa and tortilla chips.
Other parts of the world also have their own Cinco de Mayo traditions, though they are not as notable as the traditions in Mexico and the United States. In Vancouver, Canada there is an annual skydiving event and in the Cayman Islands there is an air guitar competition that takes each year on May 5.
Where to celebrate in Dayton:
TJ Chumps Cinco de Mayo Party
Featuring $3 Corona’s & Dos Equis and shot specials all day at all 3 locations
El Meson Cinco de Mayo Lunch Buffet
Enjoy a true latin feast featuring empandas, fajitas, frijoles fritos and a kids tac bar, too. Noon to 4pm
Cinco de Moustache at Quaker Steak & Lube
Celebration featuring facial-hair themed carnival games and a best moustache contest (both real and fake).
Dayton Arab American Forum Cinco de Mayo Celebration at Yankee Trace
Spring hafli featuring a catered Middle Eastern dinner and entertainment by Zein and his Detroit based band.
Salsa Saturday at Therapy Cafe
Dance Contest, Hot Chili Pepper Eating Contest, free Mexican Buffet
Todd the Fox celebrates Cinco de Mayo at Taste of Wine
Wine tasting and live music in downtown Miamisburg
Cinco De Mayo With Funky G at Trolley Stop