If you were to walk through the streets downtown Newark on an overcast evening last week, you might have heard traditional Mariachi music coasting through the air.
That’s because the Halsey Street Cinco De Mayo Eve festival was being celebrated on the eve of the holiday - in essence a block party that was sponsored by the Halsey Street Merchants Association and the management firm of the newly redeveloped Hahne & Co.
Opened in January, it is the latest in a series of projects all around Newark that are in various stages of development as part of a larger plan of revitalization in the city - all being small pieces of the bigger puzzle in a long overdue plan to revitalize the city.
The festival that closed off part of Halsey Street between New Street and Bleeker Street was meant as a form of introduction of the administrative management team of Hahne & Co. to the surrounding community.
Bozzuto, a real estate services firm that serves as management for the building, took the opportunity of the improving spring weather to gain favor with local residents and showcase some of the amenities and businesses that are part of complex.
And though the event went off without a hitch, Leyla Jimenez, general manager of the Hahne & Co. building through Bozzuto, said that they want to be considerate to the surrounding community and do not foresee these kinds of events being organized again in the near future.
"We are happy to be here as part of the community. We are a community-collaborative project so [this festival] is more for the community than it is for us," Jimenez said. "I think it was very successful. We saw a lot of families here, a lot of people strolling along - it was great."
As part of the participation in this celebratory event, local retailers featured various specials ranging from food to drinks from local restaurants located on or near the stretch of Halsey Street where the event was being held.
Some of the participants in the festival were local businesses Burger Walla, Green Chicpea, Burg, 27 Mix, The Halal Guys, Nico Kitchen + Bar, and Harvest Table among a number of others.
"Including the local Halsey street merchats and merchants from the neighborhood was important to us," said Annie Wildasin, senior marketing manager for Bozzuto. "We worked on it for about 2 to 3 months. The band is local, they're from Newark. It was very important to us to have that local aspect."
The entertainment side of the festival did include an eclectic mix of traditional and contemporary acts. From traditional Mexican dance performers of the Esperanza Azteca Dance Group to the aforementioned local soul band The Jack Moves, the event featured something for everyone. And, of course, no Cinco De Mayo celebration would be complete without mariachi music being performed by Mexican performers Mariachi Oro de Mexico.
"I like the whole variety of people coming together. I have so many friends that I met just living in this neighborhood," said Parie Williams, a school teacher in Newark and a resident of Hahne & Co. residential apartments.
"We need change," Williams said. "We can't continue to be the same. We have children - another generation coming up and they need to be exposed to the variety of cultures and different things that are going on in the community. They need to learn about different foods and different styles and different music genres. I'm going to embrace it."