'That doesn't represent us': Early Cinco de Mayo celebrations attract crowds and car stunts in San Jose

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Tuesday, May 5, 2020
Early Cinco de Mayo celebrations in SJ attract crowds, car stunts
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In the South Bay, Cinco de Mayo celebrations have already started. However, actions some are referring to as "bad behavior" have residents in East San Jose worried a beloved tradition will be ruined.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- In the South Bay, Cinco de Mayo celebrations have already started. However, actions some are referring to as "bad behavior" have residents in East San Jose worried a beloved tradition will be ruined.

Weekend crowds and dangerous car stunts are fueling that concern.

RELATED: The true history behind Cinco de Mayo

Resident, Carlos Diaz snapped a handful of photos Saturday afternoon, showing hundreds packing a parking lot near Story and King roads on the east side.

"It was like COVID-19 was beaten, and this was the big celebration with people coming onto the streets," Diaz said. "Ridiculous!"

He said there was maybe one mask in sight, and clearly no regard for COVID-19. Those who were running essential errands, were ultimately put in an especially bad place.

"You couldn't drive in, you couldn't drive out," he explained.

Diaz said crowds watched on as cars did donuts and other dangerous stunts. On Monday, skid marks were easy to see.

"When I posted about it, a good number of comments were questioning if this was the past. They thought it was 'fake news,'" he explained. "So, that's how incredible it was. There's no way you'd expect it. It's quite ridiculous."

The scene was very different from the usual Cinco de Mayo car parades, widely enjoyed by the community.

"On Cinco de Mayo, I'd see crowds gather on sidewalks to watch the parade of cars," he explained.

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Also on Saturday afternoon, and just a few blocks away, resident Marybel Rios Rangel was recording from the front row seat of the beloved show.

"This is the parade I get every year," she said, while recording. Rangel's birthday is on May 6, so she and her family usually gather to enjoy the parade on the weekend prior.

She explained the parade of cars is normally a spectacle, best viewed as a community.

"Everybody comes out with their barbecue pits. They celebrate, they put the music out. It's really nice to see," she said.

However, she believes the current pandemic kept neighbors from their front yards.

In video shared with ABC7 News, Rangel recorded car after car. At one point, viewers heard a screech, saw a cloud of smoke and the car responsible.

It's these stunts many believe force the San Jose Police Department (SJPD) to respond.

"That doesn't represent us. It's about the beautiful flags, the beautiful cars. The young, the old coming together. It's celebrating a beautiful day," Rangel told ABC7 News.

RELATED: Police investigate officer-involved shooting in San Jose

SJPD announced it has an extensive operational plan for Cinco de Mayo, which includes extra officers.

It will deploy "additional personnel from Special Operations and Patrol to ensure there are sufficient resources to adequately address any public safety issues that may arise."

Additionally, SJPD said it's asking those who are visiting to celebrate Cinco de Mayo do so safely and responsibly.

Adding, "Chief Garcia has made it clear that officers will not be going into crowds to issue citations to people violating the social distance health order. We hope everyone is responsible and comply with the health order, however, our number one priority is to ensure people are not causing a public safety concern."

Neighbors only hope those who plan to celebrate on Tuesday, are responsible in keeping their distance and driving safely.

"That's not everybody, that's a small percentage," Rangel said about the few drivers doing dangerous stunts. "Everybody else is really just having a good time. You hear their music, you get to see their really nice cars. You know, they're proud to be in the Mexican culture, or cultura, if you will."

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