For 3rd straight year, Santa Rosa Cinco de Mayo festival canceled

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (KGO) -- Walk around a Santa Rosa parking lot just off of Sebastopol Road around the first week of May, and it would normally look a lot different than it does currently.

What's now filled with food trucks and other vendors, would instead be the site of the city's annual Cinco de Mayo celebration - a party that's been canceled for the third year in a row.

"We normally start the planning in January and, obviously, in January the whole community was in the omicron surge. And so we did not have enough time to plan it," said Sylvia Lemus, one of the event's organizers.

Since the start of the pandemic, COVID-19 has disproportionately hit the Latino population.

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Lemus says while the decision to cancel was not an easy one, it was made with the safety of the community in mind.

A loss for many across the entire Bay Area.

"We draw a lot of people from different cultures to come and celebrate. And even though it's a Mexican holiday, it's been a multicultural celebration," Lemus said.

With the celebration canceled once again, local law enforcement says they'll be on the lookout for other events popping up instead.

Lieutenant Janine Kucker of the Santa Rosa Police Department says without the festival to draw people, her department will up its presence on the streets.

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Prepared for any potential illegal activity, with things like sideshows top of mind.

"They're really not safe for our community members to be at and engage in. You know a lot of people get hurt at these sideshow events," Kucker said.

But for those left wondering when the festival might come back again, Lemus says next year will be a go.

Making its grand comeback, bigger and better than ever before.

"2020 would have been our 15th year. It would have been our quinceañera. And we weren't able to celebrate our quinceañera and we were going to do it big. So we look forward to next year," Lemus said.

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