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Swine Flu Dampens Some Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in the US

May 01, 2009 05:00 PM
by Anita Gutierrez-Folch
Several American cities have chosen to cancel their Cinco de Mayo events altogether. Other cities, however, think those precautions are too excessive and that there’s no need for alarm. 

Mixed Reviews for Cinco de Mayo Festivities in the US

Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican holiday originally meant to commemorate Mexico’s victory over France at the battle of Puebla in 1862, is celebrated in many cities around the United States, usually with large public festivals that include music, Mexican food and drinks, crafts and other activities.

However, due to the swine flu outbreak, many cities have chosen to cancel their Cinco de Mayo celebrations as a precautionary measure. The city of Chicago, for instance, has cancelled this weekend’s event at Navy Pier. According to Eduardo Rodriguez, chairman of the Mexican Civic Society of Illinois, the organization chose to cancel the event when many of the vendors, performers and public officials coming from Mexico began cancelling their trips to the U.S.
Similarly, concerns for the spread of the flu lead organizers to cancel Dallas’ Cinco de Mayo festivities at Pike’s Park; Mayfest and other public events at Forth Worth suffered a similar fate. Mayor Mike Moncrief of Fort Worth explained to the press that he was looking to protect the health of all citizens.

The California town of Corona canceled not only its Cinco de Mayo celebration but also the Lee Pollard High School prom. Classes at the school were canceled starting on Thursday after a 16-year-old girl attending Pollard High was identified as a possible swine flu case last week. "The big picture is, we want to make sure our schools are safe," Principal Michael Ridgway told The Press-Enterprise.

Still, cities such as St. Paul, Los Angeles, Portland and many others plan to continue with their scheduled festivities. In Minnesota, event organizers don’t feel the flu threat is serious enough to warrant cancellations. "We're not hearing that there's any need for concern at our event or any other event, or in people's everyday life," Brian Gioielli, one of the coordinators of the celebration, told Minnesota Public Radio. “People should follow the general rules on what to do if you're sick, but other than that, there isn't a reason not to come to Cinco de Mayo. We hope that a lot of people do."

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Related Topic: The Impact of swine flu on the travel industry

Both the Association of Flight Attendants (AFA-CWA) and the American Federation of Government Employees are looking to protect workers in the travel industry who may be exposed to swine flu. The AFA-CWA has requested that the FAA institute passenger screening methods to help prevent the spread of swine flu, and to protect members of the union who work in close contact with travelers in areas with known outbreaks of the virus. Flight attendants are demanding permission to wear protective masks and gloves whenever they see fit, and want to be allowed to take sick leave without losing their allotted sick time.

Reference: Celebrating Cinco de Mayo at home

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in your own home is easy with an array of colorful activities, decorations, music and traditional Mexican dishes. FindingDulcinea’s “6 Sites for Celebrating Cinco de Mayo” offers ideas to entertain adult guests with a selection of classic and flavored margaritas, and make kids feel included in the celebration by helping them with crafts and other decorations such as sombreros, Mexican flags and maracas. Easy Mexican foods such as salsa, burritos, tacos, guacamole and enchiladas add authenticity to your party and help you create the perfect Cinco de Mayo ambiance.

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