Saturday’s parade and festival in Venice honors local Mexican-American history

Community meets culture at the Oakwood
Recreation Center
Photo by Andrea Abrego / Venice Arts

About three years ago, shortly after her mother passed away, Venice native and community organizer Laura Ceballos thought it was about time to resurrect a long dormant Venice tradition: a Cinco de Mayo parade.

With the help of the Pico Youth and Family Center, that’s just what she did. The newly revived celebration — now in its third year after going dormant 34 years ago — returns to the streets of Venice on Saturday, this time with backing from the City of Los Angeles.

At 10 a.m. a colorful caravan of floats, Aztec dancers, a charro squad with dancing horses, folklórico dancers, mariachis and more steps off from the corner of Lincoln Boulevard and California Avenue. Venice High’s marching band, Santa Monica College’s cheerleaders, Venice icon Harry Perry and some of Venice’s finest classic cars join the moving lineup, with Venice High football coach Angelo Gasca serving as grand marshal. Stake out a spot on Lincoln Boulevard between California and Rose avenues for optimal viewing.

After traveling north on Lincoln Boulevard and wending its way through Rose, California and 7th avenues, the parade concludes at Oakwood Recreation Center (767 California Ave.), where the young and young at heart can swing at piñatas, make arts and crafts, participate in raffles and face-painting, and enjoy authentic Mexican cuisine all afternoon.

Ceballos, who has fond childhood memories of watching Venice’s Cinco de Mayo parade with her mother during the 1960s during the height of the Chicano Movement, hopes Saturday’s parade honors her mother’s memory and highlights the history and contributions of Mexican-Americans in the neighborhood.

“It is imperative that we preserve our Mexican-American history and acknowledge our existence and contributions to the Venice community,” says Ceballos.

— Christina Campodonico

The Historical Venice Cinco de Mayo Parade and Festival happens from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday (May 5), starting from Lincoln and California avenues and concluding at Oakwood Recreation Center (767 California Ave.). Find more information at eventbrite.com.

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