ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — This weekend, thousands will celebrate an important day in Mexican history.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates the Battle at Puebla, a day when Mexican soldiers defeated the French.

But this holiday is embraced by all cultures, and one of the biggest celebrations is in St. Paul’s West Side neighborhood.

“We showcase our neighborhood is what we do,” says organizer Debbie Luna.

Every year, thousands of visitors fill Cesar Chavez Street for performances, food and a parade. This is a party where the dress code goes beyond the typical jeans and T-shirts.

“You’ll see it everywhere – whether they’re a part of the festivity or not – people love to get all dressed up and come down and do the traditional drinking, yelling, eating,” she said.

The festivities honor old traditions, while also celebrating new ones. For the past five years, the jalapeno eating contest has drawn big crowds.

“Folks can join us to eat as many jalapenos as they can in two and a half minutes,” said organizer Benjamin Theisen Escobar.

The challenge is easier said than done. The heat kicks in quickly, so grab for milk rather than water.

“The water actually spreads the heat all throughout your mouth and throat,” Theisen Escobar said. “Milk actually parches the heat, so it takes away the heat and it’s a great mechanism to finish contest with a smile.”

Click here for more information on the festivities.


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