Artist Rosemeri Barabe unfurled a 10-inch leaf over a slab of pottery as wide-eyed children gathered around to watch and touch.
Barabe was one of several artists and volunteers who helped children, parents and library patrons enjoy a taste of Mexico during the Cinco de Mayo celebration at the Payson Public Library Saturday.
"Did you know there is a piñata song," asked Assistant Library Director Margaret Jesus. "I never knew. I met a woman from Mexico who came to the library with her two children. She told me all about a song where you sing a line and then let the children take a swing at the piñata."
Jesus said the event gave children and adults a hands-on opportunity to learn about Cinco de Mayo, Mexican culture, food, crafts and music.
The children made flowers, clay dishes, played bingo and won prizes, Jesus said.
Area restaurants provided free samples of Mexican-style foods. Children danced to music with a Latin beat played by D.J. Craig.
"I think it's so important to embrace our cultural diversity. It can help create peace and harmony in our community," Jesus said. "Cinco de Mayo is a day that gives us an opportunity to learn about each other."
What is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo, or Fifth of May, is a national holiday in Mexico. In 1862 the French army invaded Mexico under the pretense of unpaid loans. To help rebuild their economy after the Mexican Civil War, Mexico borrowed money from several nations including France. After loan payments from Mexico stopped coming in, empire-hungry France invaded Mexico. The French army came in through the Gulf of Mexico and met heavy resistance from a poorly equipped but determined Mexican army. Under the command of General Ignacio Zaragoza Seguin, a militia of about 4,500 soldiers stopped the well-equipped and well-trained invading French army. The day was May 5, 1862.