Worker shortage slows Cinco de Mayo celebrations in Southwest Detroit

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Posted at 9:51 PM, May 05, 2022
and last updated 2022-05-06 08:54:24-04

DETROIT (WXYZ) — For many people celebrating Cinco de Mayo in Southwest Detroit, it's a tradition.

“It’s for the culture, it’s for the vibes,” said Koolaid, the entertainer who comes to Mexicantown for the holiday every year.

“It’s kind of the rite of Spring. People have been itching all winter to get out, party and celebrate the ethnic heritage," said Ray Lozano, the executive director of the Mexicantown Community Development Corporation.

Lazano says Southwest Detroit is known for its Hispanic population and cultural roots. Many families immigrated to the area in the 1920s.

“We are so thankful to share our culture and our traditions,” Gloria Rosas said.

Cinco de Mayo is extra special for Rosas. Not only is it a day to celebrate her heritage, but it’s the anniversary of when she opened up Xochi’s Gift Shop 37 years ago.

“I feel so happy after two years of the pandemic that we finally have Cinco de Mayo celebration,” Rosas said.

Cinco de Mayo was usually her busiest day of the year and with the past two being burdened by the pandemic, her sales suffered. But this year is different.

“Thank God,” Rosas said.

The crowds have returned, but the workers haven’t.

“We are short-staffed, so we are doing carryout only and you know, making the best we can,” said Bob Dimattia, the general manager at Mexicantown Restaurant.

Dimattia says they used to have 40 employees but on Thursday, they were down to 10. So his two-story eatery was empty.

“But we still have a line, which is great,” Dimattia said.

To accommodate for the limited staff, many businesses closed early.

It's important to know that Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. Instead, it's the anniversary of a battle between the Mexican Army and France, when Mexico was victorious.