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Celebrating Heritage

Events galore in LatinoLA, September 15 through October 15

Published on LatinoLA: September 2, 2005


Celebrating Heritage


Los Angeles celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month -- Sept. 15 to Oct. 15 -- con mucho entusiasmo. Timed to coincide with several important events -- Mexican Independence Day (Sept. 16), Central American Independence Day in Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua (all on Sept. 15), and Dia de la Raza (Oct. 12). Events are planned all over the city -- large and small, festive and somber.

Here in LA, with the largest Hispanic population outside of Latin America (4.6 million in LA County), the largest Mexican population outside of Mexico City, and equally strong populations of Central and South Americans, Los Angeles' Hispanic roots are exceptionally strong. Time Magazine's recent list of the "25 Most Influential Hispanics in America" was dominated by Angelenos. A third of those on this esteemed list lived in LA, including actress Salma Hayek, comedian George Lopez, and, of course, LA's first Latino mayor since 1872, Antonio Villaraigosa.

"Hispanic Heritage Month gives us a significant opportunity to celebrate the culture and contributions of Hispanics to the city of Los Angeles," said Villaraigosa. "I'm so proud to be a part of a city that thrives on its diversity and takes time out to recognize this strength in special ways like this."

While LA savors its Hispanic heritage year-round -- at restaurants and cafes, clubs, ethnic markets -- all that is revved up during Hispanic Heritage Month with terrific celebrations, parades, exhibitions, a film festival, and more.

"Visitors come to Los Angeles from all over the world because they know that they can find a corner of their home right here," said Mark Liberman, president and CEO of LA INC., The Convention and Visitors Bureau. "Cultural diversity is celebrated daily here, with Hispanic Heritage Month being just one example of that."

From Sept. 1 to 28, Latin jazz legend Pete Escovedo, who performed for more than 30 years as a percussionist for Carlos Santana, Barry White, Tito Puente, Anita Baker, and George Duke, will debut his paintings at NoHo Gallery LA. Escovedo, now 70, fuses vibrant colors with textured canvases mixed with pre-Columbian, Mexican, Peruvian, African, and French influences. A Latin Fusion group show will also run, featuring works by eight artists. A reception will be held from 6 to 10 p.m., Sept. 15., http://www.nohoartsdistrict.com.

LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art) (http://www.lacma.org) premieres a major, special exhibit, "Lords of Creation: The Origins of Maya Kingships," on Sept. 10 (closing Jan. 1, 2006), which focuses on new discoveries in Maya archeology, art history, and hieroglyphic writing. Many of the 150 objects in the exhibit have never been displayed in the U.S. and come from the national museums of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and Costa Rica.

On the evening of Sept. 15, thousands are expected to gather on the steps of LA City Hall (just as they do in city halls all over Mexico) to commemorate Mexican Independence Day with a historical reenactment of "El Grito" -- the cry by Father Hidalgo that launched Mexico's War of Independence from Spain in 1812. Also planned: live music and speeches honoring LA's Latino population. (http://www.cityofla.org)

More than 100,000 people are expected at the Mexican Independence Celebration at El Pueblo de Los Angeles, Sept. 16 to 18. Just north of Downtown LA, and considered the birthplace of the city, El Pueblo is the site of festivities so huge that two of the city's major thoroughfares, Main and Los Angeles streets, will be blocked off for the long weekend. Three stages at the Plaza feature nonstop live entertainment, including a children's stage. Adding to the fun: games, crafts, and food specialties. To complete the celebration, save time to explore Olvera Street, adjacent to the Plaza. Olvera Street restaurants and shops are especially popular during this time of year. (http://www.cityofla.org/elp)

The Mexican Cultural Institute (http://www.mexicanculturalinstitute.org), at the Biscailuz Building in the corner of Olvera Street, pays homage to the heroes of Mexican history during its Fiestas Patrias, Sept. 9 to 11 and 16. The adjacent Placita Dolores will feature children's crafts workshops, family films, and entertainment.

The Mexican Independence Day Parade is one of the largest events in the city, with 200,000 spectators lining the 2.5-mile parade route along Cesar Chavez Boulevard in East LA. The parade is packed with celebrities and elected officials, floats and vintage cars, high school marching bands, charros, mariachi bands, and folkloric dance troupes. (http://www.univision.net)

On Sept. 18, the Central American Independence Day Party takes place in the LA neighborhood with the largest Salvadoran and Guatemalan populations: Pico/Union. The parade begins on Pico Boulevard, marches up Alvarado Street, and spills into MacArthur Park. The celebration actually begins on Sept. 16 with a carnival at the park and continues on Saturday and Sunday with a festival of bands, folkloric music and dancing, and food vendors.

The LA Zoo (http://www.lazoo.org) will celebrate Mexican Independence Day on Sept. 17 and 18 with all-day live entertainment, arts and crafts workshops for children, and pinata breakings. And because the zoo is arranged by continent, be sure to visit all the animals from Latin America.

On Sept. 22, "Flor de Serena's Ladino Music in the Americas: Journeys from Spain to the New World" performs flamenco guitar and other music at one of LA's most revered monuments of the Spanish era, the San Fernando Mission in Mission Hills. This program is part of the World Festival of Sacred Music and is a rare chance to enjoy a concert at the mission. (http://www.festivalofsacredmusic.org)

At the Hispanic Genealogy Festival: Viva La Familia 2005 on Oct. 8 at the Mexican Cultural Institute (http://www.mexicanculturalinstitute.org) in the Biscailuz Building on the Plaza at Olvera Street, experts from the Genealogical Society of Hispanic America, and other organizations, will be on hand to help families research their family's Mexican and Hispanic roots. These genealogists will offer advice, lectures, and materials.

Also on Oct. 8, the Guelaguetza, the largest traditional folk festival of the Mexican state of Oaxaca, will be brought to life with folkloric dancing by La Nueva Antiquera (a troupe from Oaxaca) at Placita Dolores. The evening event also features foods and music from the seven regions of Oaxaca state. (http://www.mexicanculturalinstitute.org)

The Craft and Folk Art Museum (http://www.cafam.org) honors Latino Heritage Month with a special exhibit, "Behind the Altar: Retablos." Opening Sept. 22 and running through Dec. 31, the show focuses on art works from the collection of Paul LeBaron Thiebaud. The small oil paintings, known as both retablos and laminas, were painting on metal scraps and used in home altars to honor saints. CAFAM's gift shop always has an extensive selection of folk and craft objects related to the current show.

The Los Angeles Latino International Film Festival (LALIFF) (http://www.latinofilm.org) has evolved into one of LA's major film fests. Held Oct. 21 to 30 at the historic Egyptian Theatre on Hollywood Boulevard, the festival shows documentaries, features, and shorts. Last year more than 15,000 people attended the events, including co-founder Edward James Olmos.

Just following Hispanic Heritage Month, on Oct. 23 and 24, the Los Angeles Latino Book & Family Festival (http://www.lbff.us) will take at the Pomona Fairplex. This is the original and largest Latino book fest in the country, and 20,000 visitors are expected to explore the book sellers, storytellers, artists, craftspeople, food vendors, and entertainers. Co-founder Edward James Olmos will be there to welcome the audience.

For more information about visiting LA and upcoming events, go to the LA INC., The Convention and Visitors Bureau Web site at http://www.SeeMyLA.com.

http://www.SeeMyLA.com





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