Though it’s not an official holiday in the United States, many Southern Californians are not missing out on the opportunity to celebrate Mexico’s festive Cinco de Mayo holiday.

Cinco de Mayo is a Mexican cultural celebration stemming from Mexico’s victory over the French army at Puebla on May 5th, 1862, and heavy Mexican cultural influence in the Los Angeles region has made Cinco de Mayo celebrations a yearly tradition in the local area.

PENMAR FIESTA — A three-day community celebration of “cultural diversity and friendship,” to mark Cinco de Mayo, is planned by the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks.

Hours of the community festival are 3 to 10 p.m. Friday; and noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 29th to May 1st, at the Penmar Recreation Center, 1341 Lake St., Venice. Admission is free, but food and rides are not.

This is the second year of the event, which was only one day last year.

“I promised everyone we were going to expand it this year and we did it,” says Penmar Recreation Center staffer Eric Calhoun, whose efforts helped the Cinco de Mayo celebration grow from a one-day event into a three-day event.

The event will include carnival rides and games on Friday; and will add live music (including a number of salsa and Latin bands), entertainment and additional children’s activities on Saturday and Sunday.

Saturday’s lineup of bands includes El Leon at 1 p.m.; Lik at 2:30 p.m.; Horny Toads at 4 p.m.; Upground at 5:15 p.m.; Viva Malpache at 6:30 p.m.; Manifesto at 7:15 p.m.; and Humo Verde at 8:15 p.m.

Sunday’s musical lineup includes Mariachi at noon; West Road at 1:15 p.m.; Westside Crew at 2:30 p.m.; Manifesto at 3:45 p.m.; Ballet Folklorico at 5:15 p.m.; and My Aztec at 6:30 p.m.

A highlight of the event this year and last is the Mexican food fiesta.

Organizers have secured Walgrove Elementary School to provide adequate parking, says Calhoun.

Information, (310) 396-8735.

ANGELS ATTIC — Angels Attic, a nonprofit museum of antique dollhouses, miniatures, dolls and toys, will celebrate Cinco de Mayo from Thursday, May 5th, to Sunday, May 15th, with Mexican cultural activities for children and an exhibit of an elaborate dollhouse from Puebla, Mexico that was constructed circa 1890.

The “Mexican Mansion,” as the dollhouse is called, was modeled after the full-sized mansions that were built after the arrival of the French troops of Napoleon III in 1862.

The “Mexican Mansion” will be the centerpiece for group activities that will take place at Angels Attic.

From, Thursday, May 5th, to Sunday, May 15th, groups of five or more can arrange to have a tour of the museum and participate in cultural arts and crafts sessions outside at the garden and gazebo in back of the museum. The activities are for ages five and up. Tickets are $8 per person or $5 per person for school groups. The ticket price includes arts and crafts supplies.

The museum is at 516 Colorado Ave., Santa Monica. Also in its collection are antique dollhouses from France, Italy, Germany, Japan and the United States.

Reservations, (310) 394-8331.

MUSIC AT BAJA CANTINA — Mexican restaurant and margarita spot Baja Cantina has planned Cinco de Mayo special events and celebrations leading up to its big parking lot party Thursday, May 5th. Baja Cantina is at 311 Washington Blvd., in the Marina area.

Baja Cantina kicks off the celebrations with its 21st annual chili cookoff, which starts at 9 a.m. Saturday, April 30th, which benefits Walk for the Underdog, a group that provides for homeless dogs.

A tequila-tasting event hosted by Don Julio Tequilas with flamenco music by Daniel Sisto will take place from 7 to 10 p.m. Tuesday, May 3rd.

A pre-Cinco “Surf Night” with a live acoustic surf music set by the Insect Surfers is scheduled for 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, May 4th. The event will feature raffles of surfboards and bikes to benefit the Surfrider Foundation.

On Cinco de Mayo, Thursday, May 5th, Baja Cantina will hold its annual parking lot party starting at noon and continuing throughout the evening. Latin grooves group Sun and Soul will perform sets between 2 and 9 p.m. and rock station KROQ 106.7 FM will be on location doing a “live remote” broadcast that includes giveaways.

Admission is $10 to the Thursday, May 5th, parking lot party and free to the other events.

Information, (310) 821-2252.

COWAN MAY DAY EVENT — Concert for the Canyon, a family concert event and celebration of May Day to benefit Cowan Avenue Elementary School’s outdoor classroom facility, is scheduled from 11:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, May 1st, outside on the grass of the school yard, 7615 Cowan Ave., Westchester. Admission is $7 for adults and free for children 12 and under accompanied by an adult.

Kicking off the live music at noon will be the traditional Irish band The Exiles, followed by Dave Sanford and Fuzzy Logic, a group that fuses jazz, R&B and reggae.

Beatles tribute band Forever Fab will headline the event with a performance at 2:15 p.m.

The event will feature a “wild animal exhibit” and activities for children. As a tribute to May Day and the arrival of spring, there will also be a traditional Maypole dance celebration.

For the past 38 years, Cowan Elementary School has had possession of a one-acre parcel of canyon space in the corner of the school property. Now the land is being transformed into an outdoor classroom called the “CowaNatureCenter.” It will maintain native trees and plants, and will be used as part of the school’s environmental studies curriculum. It is also used as an outdoor setting for community events, workshops and performances such as this concert.

About $100,000 has been raised for development of the outdoor classroom so far through community partnerships, donations and grants, according to school officials.

Information, (310) 645-1973.

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