See the Lotus Festival and dragon boat races in Echo Park

Lotus blossom echo park lake
According to a story that has been around for decades the evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson planted the lotus in Echo Park lake in the early 20th Century.  The church she founded, the Angelus Temple, is across the street from the park. The lotus had died out a few years ago, so the L.A. Parks Dept. replanted them. 

Changes at the Lotus Festival this year: many more vendor booths in Echo Park and fewer dragon boats racing. dragon racers lotus festival 2018

And it appears that the Los Angeles Parks Dept. has replanted lotus in other parts of the lake than the northern edge.

Here is some of what I saw:

Chinese lanterns lotus festival echo park los angeles
Colorful lanterns represented China, the sponsoring country of the Echo Park Lotus Festival for 2018.
Dragon race sign lotus festival 2018
The sign announcing the location for the dragon boat races.
dragon racers lotus festival 2018
There were only these two dragon boats racing on Saturday. Perhaps others will race on Sunday. Dragon boat races have become a popular event at festivals around Southern California.
Swan paddle boats echo park lake los angeles
I noticed that now all the pedal boats are swan boats. They are available to rent year round.

 

Chinese dancers lotus festival 2018
Each year a different Asian country becomes the sponsor of this event. This year the sponsoring country was China and these are some of the performers.
red umbrella lotus festival echo park los angeles
The clothing and umbrella of these two women echoed the colors of the flowers on this plant in the lake.
pandas by childrens stage lotus festival
Panda characters with woman at the lotus festival in front of the children’s stage.

 

umbrella booth lotus festival
The City of L.A. provided tents for vendors. I liked this display of umbrellas, although the booth was primarily selling women’s clothing.
turtles in echo park lake
There were far more turtles visible than ducks. I wonder if there is some sort of turtle control for the lake? Or duck control?

 

 

 

Dogtown food truck lotus festival
I love the colors on this hot dog/sausage food truck parked nearby the Echo Park cafe. “Dogtown”, of course, is the name given to a skateboard culture in So. Cal. back in the 1970s and 1980s. 
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Singing on a raft at Fiesta Perpetua on Echo Park Lake

Fiesta Perpetua Echo Park singer
On a raft in the lake the singer twirled a red ribbon to signal the band to begin playing and marching.

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.

Singer at megaphone echo park lake
Singing through the megaphones. Because Echo Park lake is in a “bowl” there were echos which added to the performance.
audience in boats at fiesta perpetua echo park
Echo Park lake has a facility for renting paddleboats and paddleboaters lined up near the raft to see and hear the performance.  Other paddleboaters followed along beside the band as it marched 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. .

Maqueos Music band Echo Park
Maqueos Music is an academy for young musicians and this band played what sounded as if it were a traditional Mexican song.  I think the music was of Yucatan origin. Maybe

 

band at Fiesta Perpetua Echo Park
The band began in two separate locations and began to play, marching toward each other and soon merging into one.

 

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.

Echo Park lake fountain
The fountain at the center of Echo Park lake. The park is famous for its lotus blossoms  which bloom in the north end of the lake and the Lotus Festival which occurs in July.
Fruit vendor echo park
If you’re going to sell fruit from a cart in Los Angeles, it better be organic!
Echo Park children playing balls
When Echo Park was refurbished a few years ago, a playground was added for children. Very popular!
colorful houses by echo park lake
This photo has nothing to do with the Fiesta Perpetua. It is simply of colorful homes behind the Episcopalian church facing the lake.

 

 

The Lotus Festival is at Echo Park in Los Angeles this weekend

Duck and ducklings at Echo POark Lake
I love the ducklings swimming among the water lily pads.

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.

Los in bloom Echo Park

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.

pink water lilies in bloom Echo Park lake
Pink water lillies may also be in bloom this weekend.

Wow! Dragon boat races and lion dancers at the Echo Park Lotus Festival

Dragon boats at 2015 Lotus Festival
The dragon boats approached the shore where two Buddhist monks were waiting to give their blessing. Nice to see that KhmerTV t-shirt indicating that the Cambodians were represented, too

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’.

Four young ladies who are candidates for Miss Young Philippines USA were in the audience watching the Lion Dancers.
Four young ladies who are candidates for Miss Young Philippines USA were in the audience watching the Lion Dancers.

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 2016 Lotus Festival is July 9 and 10.

Here are some photos of what I saw:

Dragon sculpture at Lotus Festival
The dragon sculpture representing the Lotus Festival this year. This event is put on by the L.A. City Parks and Recreation Department.
blessing dragon boats and paddlers
The two monks blessed the dragon boats and the paddlers with prayers and incense.
Oranges, choclates and incense for the dragon boats
After the blessing by the monks, they threw chocolates from the basket onto the boats as an additional blessing. The crowd joined in, casting as many chocolates into the water as onto the boats. The lady in the blue lifejacket is affixing incense on the dragon’s head. The oranges stayed in the basket.
start of first dragon boat race at Lotus Festival
They’re off…in the first dragon boat race of the day at the Lotus Festival.
And the drgon boat winner is
The black dragon boat won by almost a minute. They raced from one end of the lake to the other.
Lion dancers on stage at the Lotus Festival. A drum, cymbals made for lots of noise.
Lion dancers on stage at the Lotus Festival. The familiar noise of a drum and cymbals announced to the whole neighborhood that Lion Dancers had come to bring good luck to the event.
Lotus blooming at Echo Park
Lotus flowers in bloom. The story is that evangelist Aimee Semple McPherson planted the first lotus in Echo Park Lake almost a century ago. The church she founded, Angelus Temple, is across the street from the park.  The original plants died out a few years back–perhaps of old age–and have since been replanted by the city of Los Angeles.

Are there new lotus at the Echo Park lake? Well, maybe. There sure are water lilies!

Lotus and canoe 1932 Echo Prk lake
The lotus plants in Echo Park lake in mid-summer in 1932

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!!

water lilies at Echo Park lake
The newly planted water lilies, not the Asian lotus, in Echo Park lake are protected by netting.

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.

Fisherman at Echo Park Lake
This fisherman is after the bass and trout that are now put into Echo Park lake regularly. The tent-looking structures behind the fisherman are nets protecting the new water lilies.

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.

Peddle boats at Echo Park Lake
Golden-orange pedal boats lined up and waiting for fun-seekers at Echo Park lake.
two tai chi ladies
Two ladies practicing Tai Chi in the early morning sunshine at Echo Park. Behind is the fountain in the middle of the lake.