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The 14th annual Woodburn Cinco de Mayo celebration opened with a festive romp under sunny skies

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburns 14 annual Cinco de Mayo celebration hosted by Chemeketa Community CollegeWoodburn's 14th Cinco de Mayo celebration stepped into gear Friday with a healthy dose of dancing from local Cosecha Mestiza performers, who delivered multiple numbers to a spirited young audience derived mostly of school kids.

Woodburn Mayor Eric Swenson also delivered an uplifting ceremonial opening address, urging the youngsters on hand to take pride in their country, their state and their community – and to not tolerate bullying anywhere.

WSD Superintendent Chuck Ransom, host Chemeketa Community College President Julie Huckestein and Woodburn Chemeketa Center Dean Elias Villegas also delivered opening addresses, precursors to the dancers.

The early performances took the floor like clockwork, choreographed to precision and apropos to the event.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Elias Villegas, Dean of Woodburn Chemeketa Center, addresses a young audience during Woodburn's 14 annual Cinco de Mayo celebration hosted by Chemeketa Community College

"We have over 90 dancers and players, so it takes a lot of work to get it going," said Valor Middle School Principal Jeff Taylor, who coordinated the dance performances and accompanied some with young musicians.

The swansong song and dance of the opening ceremony – Cielito Lindo – was an especially tricky feat as roughly 50 dancers all frolicked at once.PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburns 14 annual Cinco de Mayo celebration hosted by Chemeketa Community College

"As you can see, we have so many dancers, it's tough for us to all fit on the floor at once," Taylor narrated as the colorfully clad performers shoehorned into their dancing spaces.

Once the opening dances were completed, Woodburn's Mariachi Band set the salsa tone to the atmosphere as a healthy horde of youngsters scrambled to an adjacent stage area with eager eyes awaiting a whack at a piñata.

"We had a great turnout this morning with the Woodburn School District kids," Villegas said during a brief, early afternoon lull.

Around him kids fancied toy-horse or bull rides, tossed bean bags, blew bubbles or buoyantly bounced around the inflatable house as others soaked in the music, visited a variety of vendors or sampled some authentic Latino cuisine.

"This is wonderful event, because it's all about bringing the community together," Villegas said. "We all celebrate together."PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburns 14 annual Cinco de Mayo celebration hosted by Chemeketa Community College

More dancing and live music stood on the horizon at that Friday juncture, a tip-of-the-iceberg moment in the three-day affair. The weekend progressed with distinctive accompaniments to the performances such as a West Coast Kruzerz car show, a Health Fair and Mother's Day cake, flowers and music special.

The performances ranged considerably, from Folkloric to Michoacan dance to Zumba.

"The purpose of this event is all about education," Villegas said. "It's for all community members to come and share.

"This is the second largest Cinco de Mayo event in the state," Villegas added. "And this is a free family event; in Portland you have to pay to go."

The local Dean said in 2018 Woodburn's Cinco de Mayo drew 14,300 folks over the weekend. As he stood under cloudless skies Friday afternoon, he predicted: "I think this year we will see even more people because of this nice weather."

PMG PHOTO: PHIL HAWKINS - Woodburns 14 annual Cinco de Mayo celebration hosted by Chemeketa Community College

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