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There Were Wedding Proposals and L.A. Dodgers Present at The Annual Cinco De Mayo Lowrider Cruise in Elysian Park

If your birthday, baby shower, or some celebratory event fell on May 1st and you attempted to celebrate with a relaxing carne asada at Elysian Park this Sunday, we’re sorry. The combination of the annual L.A. Times Car Club’s Cinco de Mayo cruise and the Dodgers game effectively turned the Elysian Valley and the streets of Echo Park near the stadium into a giant parking lot. Thousands of people, low riders, custom bikes, and motorcycles came from all over the Southern California area to participate in the unofficial event.

Throughout the day, hundreds of candy-painted classic cars drove up and down Stadium Way. Different genres of music all competed for the same ears. While vendors sold beers, mixed drinks, waters, and food. Early Sunday morning, L.A. TACO senior staff photographer Erwin Recinos witnessed a wedding proposal at the entrance of the car parade. He also spotted Justin Turner of the L.A. Dodgers as well as relief pitcher, Brusdar Gaterol, checking out the scene.

Later in the day, at the intersection of Stadium Way and Scott Avenue, cars outfitted with dozens of batteries and custom hydraulic suspension systems, bounced up and down. While spectators watched and filmed in awe and a growing line of people attempted to pass through the intersection.

Although lowriders and car enthusiasts meet in Elysian Park almost every Sunday during the year, the Cinco de Mayo cruise stands out and has grown in recent years. Fernando Carillo, a classic car enthusiast who's been coming to these meetups for years and also slangs BBQ from his apartment from time to time, told L.A. TACO people began taping off parking spots in Elysian Park as early as 6 PM on Saturday. That's about three hours earlier than people started claiming spots last year. Car clubs worked in shifts overnight in order to stake their claim.

For those reasons, Carillo was on the fence about attending the cruise this year. Compared to last year, when vaccines were just becoming readily available, Carillo says this year there were fewer masks and fewer people but more cars. Although the unofficial event is hosted by the L.A. Times Car Club, people from as far as San Diego come to participate. A spot along Stadium Way under the scenic row of palm trees is considered prime real estate. Carillo settled for a chiller spot up the hill on Scott Avenue this year. “Before you know it, you’re going to have to come on Friday to get a spot,” Carillo said on Sunday.

Limited parking and the competitive nature of car culture resulted in a couple of verbal altercations over parking spots towards the end of the day. People who camped out overnight or showed up early in the morning for a coveted spot weren’t happy when people who rolled up later in the day encroached on their territory. But overall, things remained peaceful. A spokesperson for LAPD Media Relations Division tells L.A. TACO they are not aware of any issues related to the car meet-up on Sunday.

By the end of the day, car fluids puddled the street, while giant trailers moved in to tow cars home or to the cruise later in Van Nuys. Around 4 PM, a couple of LAPD officers were on the scene directing attendees to move certain cars and motorcycles on Scott Avenue. Lowriders hopped and cruised off in all directions.

Fernando Carrillo standing next to his Chevy.

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