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Mexican holiday brings heavy traffic to area restaurants
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Apolonar Colin prepares onions Tuesday for a Cinco de Mayo celebration at La Parrilla in Flowery Branch. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Cinco de Mayo may be a Mexican holiday, but many enjoy celebrating it here, too.

Cinco de Mayo — May 5 in Spanish — celebrates Mexico’s victory over the French in the 1862 Battle of Puebla.

Many mistake the holiday for Mexico’s independence day, which actually is in September.

But much like St. Patrick’s Day for the Irish, Cinco De Mayo has become a day to celebrate Mexican heritage in the United States.

Local Mexican restaurants are expected to be jammed today with people enjoying classic dishes like tacos and enchiladas and drinking margaritas.

Ernesto Soriano, assistant manager of La Parilla in Flowery Branch, said May 5 is huge for Mexican restaurants.

“It’s the best day of the whole year,” Soriano said. “It something that pushes your sales up from a regular day. It could push it up from $8,000 to $10,000.”

Soriano said he will have 13 waiters on the floor all day, and all managers and bus boys will be working as well.

“We definitely have everybody in and working that day,” Soriano said.

Soriano said sponsors provide prizes for restaurants to give out to customers. La Parilla will have a DJ playing music all day.

“It’s a big party,” he said. “It’s a new way to meet people and get them hooked on our food.”

Local schools also take advantage of Cinco de Mayo as an educational opportunity.

The Chestatee High School Interact Club is holding its annual May Festival on Friday. Club co-sponsor Phyllis Ableman said the theme of this year’s festival is Cinco de Mayo.

“The majority of my club members are Hispanic so this is very special for them,” Ableman said. “It’s an opportunity for them to celebrate their Mexican heritage.”

The event will feature music, food, a pinata and the performance of traditional Mexican dances.

“It’s a big fundraiser for us as well as a party,” Ableman said.

The service club will donate the money they collect from the fundraiser to the charities of their choice. Last year’s festival proceeds benefitted Challenged Child and Friends and Good News Clinics.

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