Yesterday after church, my daughter, her boyfriend, and I headed to Alto Pass for the first, hopefully annual, Cinco de Mayo Festival.
When we got to the celebration, we were greeted by smiling faces and people enjoying the warm sun. A mix of music, Latin American blended with hit radio songs, filled the air. Bright, beautiful color was everywhere from the piñatas to food and items offered for sale. Two words could describe all of the authentic Mexican food for sale along the blocked off street: ¡Que rico!
There were seasoned mangos on sticks, elote, and agua frescas of tamarind and horchata. People were preparing fresh tacos of bisteq and carnitas and more. So good!
The Union County Sheriff car kicked off the parade. First responders, pageant queens, traditional dancers, and others followed. Horses brought up the end. It may not have been a long parade, but it was nice.
After leaving the Cinco de Mayo Festival, we headed on to Bald Knob Cross. Thankfully, the road up to the cross is much better these days than when I was a child. It does still twist and wind for a few miles upward. I can only imagine how difficult it must have been to get materials to the building site.
A nice visitor’s center sits by the cross with restrooms, information, souvenirs, and an observation deck with a gorgeous view of the Shawnee National Forest.
At the base of the cross, there is a timeline as well as signs to tell you what you might be able to see in that direction if conditions were right. Each side has a name : Faith, Hope, Charity, and Love. There are benches for sitting and picnic tables for eating and enjoying the view.
Leaving the cross, we decided to head to Pomona to see the Natural Bridge. It was a short distance, but part of the drive into the part of the Shawnee National Forest that has the rock formation is still gravel…
There is a small picnic area by the parking lot for the trail to the Natural Bridge. The trail itself does require some mobility as it is fairly natural and not accessible.
We could hear the sounds of running water as we approached the bridge. A faint mint smell was in the air. All of the lush, green foliage was beautiful. It was the perfect way to cap off a wonderful afternoon in Southern Illinois.
Cinco de Mayo Festival at Alto Pass
Bald Knob Cross of Peace
Pomona Natural Bridge
Shawnee National Forest