A good start: First-ever Othello Cinco de Mayo brings together community despite weather

May 9—OTHELLO — Othello's first-ever Cinco de Mayo celebration took place all day Saturday in Lions Park, bringing community members together to celebrate the holiday's cultural heritage with a range of activities and events.

The event was put on by Othello's recently formed Hispanic Committee and the Othello Rotary Club. The celebration featured music, games, dancing, food, merchandise, children's activities and more in the park after the event kicked off with a parade down Main Street Saturday morning.

Hispanic Committee member and event coordinator Sulema Martinez said the event turnout wasn't what the committee had originally hoped for but was more than they were expecting that day due to the cloudy, cold and drizzly weather.

"(Originally) we expected a lot of people. We expected maybe 3000. And then when the day-of came we were like, 'We might get a little bit,'" she said. "It turned out that we had a lot more than we thought ... Other than the weather, we think it went really great."

During Monday's Othello City Council meeting, Othello Mayor Shawn Logan said the event would likely have had a much larger attendance if not for the weather. The event was held in conjunction with the opening day of Othello's Little League season, also at Lion's Park.

"Right at 2 (p.m.) is when Little League finished, and we had that gate open and so a lot of people just came in through there," Martinez said. "So I think around 2 is where we got our crowd of people."

There are always issues that come with first-time events, but Martinez said the event was still a success overall.

"We had a good turnout. Our food vendors said that they made a really good amount of money being there, even given the weather," she said. "Even our informational booths said that they did really well as well. That was our overall goal, to bring money into our local businesses here in town and ... to make sure that people know they're here. Our informational booths said, 'Yeah, we got a lot of our information out to the community.'"

According to Martinez, the committee's goal was also to offer a new and additional cultural event to the Othello community, which hasn't seen a large-scale Hispanic cultural celebration in years.

"Everyone loved it," Martinez said. "They were excited. They were just like, 'It was long overdue,' so we were excited to hear that from the community."

Othello resident Will Vonbracht attended the event with his children after coming from the Little League competitions on the other side of the park.

"We just came out to see what was going on and celebrate with the community," he said. "It seems like everybody's having fun."

Vonbracht said the best part about the event was the food.

The Hispanic Committee has yet to get together and discuss the plan for next year's event, Martinez said, but she offered some preliminary ideas for the future.

"I think next year that's also something that we would change, is our marketing and start it a lot earlier, given the time that we were given with this was three months," she said. "I think starting planning earlier, planning this year for the car show, for marketing, for everything."

The committee would also need to factor weather in for the next event and adjust accordingly, Martinez said. She also said it is likely that next year the car show will be more centralized adjacent to the rest of the event.

On the funding side of things, Martinez said she hopes for the Hispanic Committee to be able to establish a nonprofit to benefit future events.

"We wanted to be able to make it a nonprofit with the money that we raised, so that way, next year, we can pull in all of these grants that we can apply for to be able to put on this event because we would be a nonprofit," she said. "And then we would still ask our sponsors that sponsored us this year if they want to be part (of it)."

As for this year's event, Martinez emphasized that she wanted to thank all the vendors, informational booths and event partners, such as the city of Othello.

"Without them, this wouldn't be possible," she said.

Gabriel Davis may be reached at gdavis@columbiabasinherald.com.