On May 5, 1998, the temperature was in the low 60’s and Jesus Romero, owner of Taxco Restaurant in Sycamore, was holding the first Sycamore Cinco de Mayo event. It started with one man’s dream to create an event to raise money for charity.With the help of local businesses, Jesus Romero’s dream came true.
In 1998 Jesus was chosen as Team Captain of the Sycamore Jaycee’s Relay for Life Team, benefitting the American Cancer Society.Puzzled on what the team could do to raise money he started brainstorming with other business owners.
During a conversation with the owner of Cub and Spanks (who shares a back parking lot with Taxco), they came up with the idea to have a fiesta on May 5th, Cinco de Mayo.The event would feature food, drinks, and fun for the whole family, all
while raising money for charity
With the help and support of the owners of Cub and Spanks, the Sycamore Chamber of Commerce, the City of Sycamore, and the participation of the community, they were able to raise $600 for Relay for Life.Back when the event started Taxco Restaurant was a small restaurant, with the capacity for 60 people.With it being the first year for the event Jesus did not know what to expect.He concentrated on the fiesta outside and didn’t take into consideration the restaurant inside, thus they ran out of food!Having close to 500 people they were not prepared for the turnout.
The next day Jesus was so surprised when he heard people taking about the event; he was even on the front page of the newspaper. The support from the community helped him decide to make Cinco de Mayo an annual event, benefitting local not-for-profit organizations.
During the same year Romero met Joann Dillman, director of CASA. Dillmand and Romero brainstormed ideas on how Taxco and CASA could work together to make Cinco de Mayo even bigger and better. Over the next 15 years the event would raise more than $90,000 for local non-profits, including Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA), Cinco de Mayo CommunityWorks Endowment Fund at the DeKalb County Community Foundations (DCCF), Kishwaukee College Foundation, and Conexion Comunidad.
In 2006, Romero partnered with Discover Sycamore, a branch of the Sycamore Chamber.With their help and support, Cinco de Mayo took a gigantic leap to the next level, raising more than $15,000, which enabled Cinco de Mayo to start an endowment with the DCCF's CommunityWorks Initative. At the time funds were matched by the Grand Victorian Foundation, which doubled the initial donation of $7,500 to the endowment. Today the endowment is valued at approximately $37,000 which helps to generate around $1,300 annually to fund CommunityWorks startegies in the areas of child care, land use, and workforce development in DeKalb County.
This years event celebrating the 15th anniversary, will be held Saturday, May 5 and Sunday May 6, on Bill Johnson Blvd., behind Taxco Restaurant.The event will be a two-day event to celebrate the milestone anniversary and because “there is just too much fun to be had for just one day,” said Romero.Saturday evening will feature live music and authentic Mexican beverages.Like years past, Sunday will feature an assortment of musical entertainment and dancers throughout the day and into the evening, games for children, Piñatas, eating contests and of course there will be authentic Mexican cuisine and beverages throughout the day. The event is free to the public; tickets for food and games can be purchased at the event.
Proceeds from this year event will be benefit Kishwaukee College Foundation, Conexion Comunidad and another local non profit. Evelina Cichy, Dean of Adult Education and Transition Programs at Kishwaukee College, has worked with Jesus on the event since the beginning and in 2001, she wrote to Jesus, “The funds raised by this special event will help many Hispanic students access a college education…We are ready to work with you on the 2002 Cinco de Mayo.”Ten years later this still rings true.
Through all the years of doing the event Romero has learned one key thing, “WEATHER!The weather is the key to the success of the event.Rain or shine we always hold it, but we prefer the shine!”
In 1998 the event was not what it is today, but Romero still carries on many of the original aspects of the event; food, piñatas, live music, and of course the money going to not-for-profits. “Investing in your community is the best investment you can make in your lifetime, in my own humble Mexican opinion.”