HOUSTON -- The Astros celebrated Cinco de Mayo early with a variety of pregame activities on Saturday, highlighted by a parade through downtown Houston and a street festival outside the ballpark.
Astros alum and community outreach executive Jose "Cheo" Cruz served as the Grand Marshall for the parade Saturday morning that had over 100 entries. Marching bands, dance and cheer squads, along with sponsored floats paraded around the ballpark as Houstonians lined the streets to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.
"It's a great honor for me to be the Grand Marshall today, and I want to thank the Astros for selecting me," Cruz said. "This is a special day for the Hispanic community on Cinco de Mayo day, and I am happy to be here,"
The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) Cinco de Mayo Parade was open to public free of charge, with the route running along the streets close to the ballpark. The parade celebrates the pride and history behind the Mexicans' victory at the Battle of Puebla. Now in its 23rd year, the parade has become an annual tradition in Houston.
"This is great for us because we have been doing a lot for the community. The Houston Astros have been working hard to serve the community, which in the past hasn't happened as much," Cruz said. "We will continue to spend money and work hard to rebuild Little League ballparks so that the kids have a nice place to practice and a play their ballgames."
The Astros continued the celebration with a Cinco de Mayo street festival Saturday afternoon. The festival featured food trucks, a Mariachi band and additional activities for all ages.
"Every Cinco de Mayo is great getting to come out to the ballpark and celebrate. When we play here it is great that we get to celebrate at Minute Maid with the fans," Cruz said. "We need the people to support us. All of the things we do for the community, it's great that the fans come out here and support us. We have a good young team and we are going to get better. Now we need the fans to come out and support us."
Director of Brand Engagement for the Houston Astros, Christie Miller talked about how important it was for the Astros to connect with all fans from all demographics.
"The city of Houston put on the parade earlier, which was great to coincide with this event. We are entertaining the same fans, so it's important for this type of outreach event to cater to all of the demographics that enjoy Astros baseball," Miller said.
The Astros will take the field Saturday wearing their Los Astros Jerseys and the first 10,000 fans at Saturday afternoon's game will receive will receive a Los Astros t-shirt courtesy of Goya Latin Foods.
Ryan Cantrell is a Real-Time Correspondent for MLB.com This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.