Hola, amigos and amigas! Cinco de Mayo, our favorite American-Mexican celebration, is here. Mexicans and Latinos living in California during the American Civil War began the celebration of Cinco de Mayo, and in the state of Puebla, the date is observed to commemorate the Mexican army's unlikely victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. Contrary to popular belief, it is not Mexico's Independence Day &mdash that day is Sept. 16 &mdash but it’s a pretty big deal here in the U.S., so drink a margarita, take the kids on some rides and have fun!
Cinco de Mayo Fiesta , Thurs., May 5-Sat., May 7. 3-10 p.m., Bay Area Renaissance Festival Grounds, 11315 N 46th St., Corner of 46th Street and Fowler Avenue, Tampa. Have mucho fun at a carnival with rides, Latin music and dancers, salsa dancing lessons, food and plenty of cerveza. Activities and entertainment are many and varied. You can check out a motorcycle and car show, Miss Latina pageant, salsa dip taste-testing and a chili contest. $5 for adults, kids younger than 12 are admitted free.
Cinco de Mayo and USF Graduation Party Thursday, May 5, at noon, Channelside Bay Plaza, 615 Channelside Drive, Tampa, (813) 514-2695. Celebrate both Cinco de Mayo and the USF Graduation at Channelside and Splitsville. The all-day party fiesta takes place in the courtyard with live music by Coker and Westbrook (noon-3 p.m.), Crossroads (3:30-6:30 p.m.) and Roctopus (7-10 p.m.), drink specials, free sombreros, raffle tickets and a Cazadores Cocktail or Budlight Lime to the first 250 people after 4 p.m. Free.
Kona Grill's "Viva!" Cinco De Mayo Celebration Thu., May 5, 6-10 p.m., 4134 W. Boy Scout Blvd., Tampa, FL 33607, 813-877-5938. Kona Grill's "Viva!" First Thursday event in May benefits the Abilities Foundation, offers salsa dancers and lessons for you to get your hot-cha-cha on. Dance to music by DJ Coro and a live Conga player, all while enjoying Kona Grill's sushi, appetizers and cocktails. The menu will feature its trademark mix of new and traditional items, items appropriate to spring, including several appetizers, entrees and cocktails from Kona's seasonal "skinny" menu. A limited silent auction featuring wine and Tampa Bay Rays memorabilia will also contribute to proceeds. $25 per person; pre-purchase in person or by phone or e-mail [email protected]. $30 at the door.
Casa Tina's Cinco De Mayo Fiesta Thu., May 5, 11 a.m.-11 p.m., 369 Main St., Dunedin, 727-734-9226, Casa Tina wants you to put it in your cabeza that the ever-popular Mexican/vegetarian-friendly restaurant is hosting once again a muy grande Cinco de Mayo Street Fiesta. It's the restaurant's 19th year celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Downtown Dunedin. The family festival includes cirque performances by Clearwater's Dance and Circus Arts, a 22-foot-tall puppet parade, lantern parade (after dark), a performance by 10-piece Latin band Orquesta Infinidad, basic salsa dance lessons by Simone Salsa and Mexican singer Lily Cortes from Veracruz Mexico.
Seminole Hard Rock Cinco de Mayo, Thu., May 5, 4 p.m., 5223 N. Orient Road, Tampa, 813-627-7625. Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino presents a $5 blackjack fiesta all day and food and beverage specials in all of its bars and restaurants. In the new Hard Rock Cafe on May 5 from 4 p.m. until midnight, crunchy tacos and cheese quesadillas can be ordered for only $5, and chips and salsa for $3 until midnight. Wash it down with a cold margarita or Corona Light for only $2.50 from 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. Party band The Current plays from 10 p.m. until 1 a.m., and DJ Chris Craze will keep the party going until 4 a.m. The Fresh Harvest restaurant’s Cinco de Mayo Celebration from 4 p.m. until 10 p.m. ($22 for members of the Seminole Players Club; $27 non-members) will add special Mexican dishes to its super buffet stations.
Cinco de Mayo Fiesta at Red Mesa Cantina, Thu., May 5, 11-3 a.m., 128 Third St. S., 727-896-8226. Red Mesa Cantina is once again hosting an all-day fiesta of epic proportions, with live music, party games, tasty Mexican fare, and of course, plenty of tequila and mezcal to go around. Free admission.