Celebrate Cinco de Mayo in Cleveland

Cleveland marks the storied holiday that falls on the fifth of May in typical fashion.

With colorful costumes and music representing an exotic culture. With the streets outside restaurants and taverns jammed with revelers, many wearing broad hats and things suspiciously like ponchos. And with a lot of drinking. A lot of drinking indeed, as celebrants take their fiestas and siestas in alcohol-born transcendence to entire new worlds.

Yes, this is how Cleveland commemorates ... National Free Comic Book Day.

Don't drink too much of that Kryptonite Ale; it's got a kick to it. And you with in sombrero, that's not the right look for V For Vendetta. It's broad-brimmed all right, but not that broad-brimmed.

There is, we are given to understand, another holiday that happens to land on May 5, evidently some new upstart trying to ride the cape-tails of Free Comic Book Day.

It's called Cinco de Mayo. We here in Cleveland are unsure of the superhero tie-in. Possibly a crossover issue with those big Mexican wrestler "luchador" guys in their masks and tights..

Even without even a traceable origin to Marvel or DC, Cinco de Mayo is still a major date for fun on the Cleveland calendar, with tie-ins scheduled that allow anyone to unleash their inner Wonder Mujere or Super Hombre. Here, appropriately enough, are five possibilities for Cinco:

1. Sting-O de Mayo at the Cleveland Aquarium
2000 Sycamore St., Cleveland

The Cleveland Aquarium is still relatively fresh fry in town, having only opened in 2012 (after many false starts), and bringing the wonders of the deeps to now family-friendly Flats waterfront, once Cleveland's most notorious booze-and-decadence district. Instituting an "Adult Swim" from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. on May 5, however, the Aquarium will host a tequila and Mexican beer tasting amidst the splendor of the stingray exhibit. For your own health, best not take a shot every time someone makes a lame joke about "drinking like a fish." Buy the $40 tickets (half-price for designated drivers) online or phone 216-862-8803.

2. Tequilafest
Lago Veranda/Flats East Bank, Cleveland

Billing itself as the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in Cleveland, Tequilafest in 2016 marks its meaningful fifth year, in the newly-revived Flats. This part of town is so associated with drinking it could only be located at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, indeed, and here on Thursday, May 5, will imbibers find more than 30 tequila brands, plus a salsa and taco bar, guacamole, music DJing and a live performance with a reggae infusion by local favorite Carlos Jones. It happens from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m. Tickets are available online.

3. Sombrero Shuffle
1214 W.6 St., Cleveland

One doesn't often here of Cinco de Mayo and fitness as going together, but such is not the case for this 2 to 3 mile informal "fun run" for those 21 and over, taking off from the Dive Bar in the Warehouse District at 6:30 p.m. Thursday. Wear a sombrero with your running gear to fit in with the May 5 vibe. Area checkpoint maps will be handed out; otherwise there is no set course, and two-partner teams will set out every 10 seconds. Pre-registration online is required, with a $25 fee for individuals. The party atmosphere at the Dive Bar also includes tacos, salsa dancing, and a piñata bash. Call 216-623-9933.

4. Cinco de Mayo at Sachsenheim Hall
7001 Denison Ave., Cleveland

Sachsenheim Hall is a cozy west-side multi-use facility and party center that has seen its share of events over the years and maintains a well-stocked bar and "gastropub" kitchen. For Cinco de Mayor the place will be offering one of the cheapest Latin-American buffets in town. $9.95 tickets allows one to partake of Mexican lasagna, chicken/chorizo rice, enchiladas, plantains, Mexican chocolate cheesecake, mole and more. In addition to beer specials, margaritas will be on tap. It all starts at 5:30 p.m. and ends...when the food runs out, we're promised. Call 216-651-0888 for reservations.

5. Cinco de Mayo parade/celebration in Lorain
1820 E 28th St., Lorain

For a most authentic and large-scale celebration of Cinco de Mayo, go west of Cleveland to Lorain, that adjacent industrial town whose Hispanic population has long been large and proud. The Mexican Mutual Society is behind big annual Cinco de Mayo events that embrace the entire family (not just the drinkers), and it is actually on Saturday, May 7, that the association puts on the big display, a parade beginning at 4:15 p.m., starting off an evening of ethnic pride that includes proclamations, community awards, public announcements, dance music and raffle prizes. It is free and open to the public – even gringos. Call 440-277-7375.

Northeast Ohio author and reporter Charles Cassady Jr.thinks life would have been better had he learned Spanish. At least he'd know what was going on in those telenovelas.