Marchers in the Denison Cinco de Mayo parade donned traditional outfits to represent the historic elements of the event.&nbsp;<span style="font-size: xx-small;"><em> Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns</em></span>
Marchers in the Denison Cinco de Mayo parade donned traditional outfits to represent the historic elements of the event.  Daily Times Herald photo by Douglas Burns
Monday, May 7, 2012

DENISON — About 3,000 people Saturday helped the community of Denison celebrate Cinco de Mayo with a downtown parade and festival in a city park.

“It means a lot for me because it’s the integration of the people and it’s a good moment to get everybody together,” said Ramon Patino, the first Latino to own a business in Denison — Tienda El Mexicano. Patino, a native of Mexico, has lived in Denison for 18 years.

Cinco de Mayo — the fifth of May — commemorated the victory of the Mexican militia over the French army at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Today, Cinco de Mayo blends modern festivities with the historical observation of one of the more important days in Mexican history.

With these roots, Cinco de Mayo has evolved into a major festival in the Latino community that is actually celebrated more in the United States than Mexico itself. Latinos from other countries participated in the Denison event as well.

“We’re trying to accomplish the goal of bringing other cultures together,” said Robert Arambula, secretary of the Southwest Latino Association of Iowa. Arambula is the flood-control code-enforcement officer for the City of Denison.

According to the 2010 census, Denison’s population is now 8,298, up 959 people from 2000. Census data list the population of Denison at 42.1 percent Hispanic, the demographic driving the growth.

The majority of the people at the celebration were Latino, but the white community was strongly represented, too — with Mayor Dennis Fineran, Father Paul Kelly and Crawford County Supervisor Eric Skoog among those participating in the Cinco de Mayo parade and park activities.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to have a celebration,” said Kelly of St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Denison and formerly the pastor for several Carroll County Catholic churches.

Kelly celebrates Mass at St. Rose of Lima in both English and Spanish. He is fluent in Spanish and has traveled extensively in Latin America.