The Fiesta Perpetua on and around Echo Park lake was the brainchild of Carmina Escobar as her contribution to the huge Pacific Standard Time LA/LA.
The way it worked was this: a woman went out to a raft in the lake and using three wooden megaphones sang to an audience of paddleboaters and people lining the walkway and lounging on the lawn around the lake.
Actually, before she began to sing, a band, the Maqueos Music Filharmonica began to play and march around the lake slowly. In my opinion, the band was the star of the performance. .
Because I love Echo Park and the lake and the surrounding area are among my favorite places in Los Angeles, I’m also including photos of the area on a sunny, 85F degree Saturday afternoon in January.
I won’t be going to the Lotus Festival this year, because I’m going to a Sri Lankan Festival in Pasadena and I’ve never been to a Sri Lankan festival before. Here, however, are a few photographs I took in the last three or four years of the lotus and water lilies in bloom in the Echo Park lake. There is usually some Asian themed entertainment at the festival, like Dragon boat races and lion dancers.
These lotus were replanted a couple of years ago after Echo Park lake was drained and restored. They are the same type of lotus originally planted by evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson decades ago. Her church, the Angelus Temple, is right across the street.
I had read somewhere that the Lotus Festival at the Echo Park lake this year was supposed to celebrate Mongolian culture. Well, it started off with a big bang of Chinese culture. The dragon boats were in the lake preparing to be blessed by two Buddhist monks in brilliant orange robes. I later learned that almost any group of eight people–4 women and 4 men–can form a team and enter the dragon boat races. Some teams are corporate. Some are representatives of non-profits. All were having a very fun time. Check with the Lotus Festival’s Facebook page if you are interested in paddling a Dragon boat next year.
The dragon boats, BTW, are simply two metal row boats that have been affixed to each other stern-to-stern. The dragon head is attached to the prow of one boat; the dragon tail to the prow of the other boat, which is facing the opposite direction. Oh, the boats have been painted to represent dragon ‘scales’.
The dragon boat races were continuing when I heard the familiar thrum of a drum and the clash of cymbals — the sound that announces that the Lion Dancers are starting to perform. The crowd included 4 young ladies who are vying for the title of Miss Young Philippines USA title.
And yes. The lotus were in bloom. So exquisitely beautiful they seem unreal.
The lotus that have grown in Echo Park lake for almost a century were supposedly planted by that charismatic evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson, whose Angelus Temple is right across the street. In 1972 a Lotus Festival was established and it was a very popular mid-summer event attended by people from all over the city.
Then a few years ago the Asian lotus, Nolumbo nucifera, which had died back every winter, failed to be reborn. No one seemed to know what happened to them. Was it pollution? Old age? (Plants don’t live forever, folks) Or something else. There was a huge uproar in the neighborhood and finally one man who lives in the San Fernando Valley admitted he had–several years earlier–taken shoots or tubers or whatever–from the Echo Park lotus and been growing and reselling them. He announced he was happy to SELL some of these lotus plants to the L.A. Parks Dept. to restore the lotus to Echo Park Lake. SELL??!! Sell back what he had taken??!! More uproar!!
All this, however, has brought about a renewal at Echo Park lake, which has always been a place with a lot of activity–joggers, walkers, sunbathers, etc.
What appears to be lotus have been planted in the north end of the lake. The leaves are still underwater so I’ve not included the murky photo. New water lilies have been planted in other parts of the lake. The city now regularly puts bass and trout in the lake for fishermen to catch.
I don’t remember if the people who run the little boathouse use to rent boats to paddle around and canoe rides, but they do now. They also have a little cafe for breakfast and lunch. The island in the middle of the lake is now closed, but I think it has been closed for a long time.