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Hawk in Echo Park

Muevelo! Muevelo! Ven Pa' ca!

Upon walking into the 29th Lotus Festival in Echo Park, you can see old Asian women with umbrellas from JON’s, even though it is a sunny 90 degrees outside. Then there are young women, new residents to the area, snapping up Japanese umbrellas from the hundreds of booths selling Asian and Latino products. When in Rome….

The two-day festival which takes place at Echo Park Lake is meant to celebrate the different cultures that represent the 90026. This year’s theme was the Phillipines. And in fact, California is home to over 1.5 million Filipino immigrants, 600,000 of which can be found in Los Angeles. With booths selling products from the popular telenovela Rebelde next to booths selling Buddhas reclining in sandalwood, even a booth to help with “el curso de income tax,” performances by Filipino hip-hop groups with Aikido demonstrations, it is clear that this neighborhood has successfully and seamlessly integrated Asian and Latin cultures within an American paradigm.

Lotus in Echo Park
Lotus in Echo Park
Lotus in Echo Park
Echo Park Lotus Fest
Holding hands
Lotus Shopping
Lotus Crowd
Lotus Crowd

In fact, the only source of contention among residents seems to stem from the wave of gentrification that has come over the area since around 2000. According to one Phillipino-American resident (OSCAR BAUTISTA) the influx of artists and yuppies into the area has created a housing market that has forced many long-term residents to move out. Additionally, he thinks that unlike past new residents, these artists and yuppies are not making an effort to blend into the existing community. But, he acknowledged, “they’ll leave; this neighborhood was made for color.”

Although July is when the lotus blooms and Echo Park Lake houses the largest lotus bed in the United States, many were remarking about the dearth of actual lotuses. And many were simultaneously remarking about how much hotter it was this year compared to past festivals. But no one mentioned global warming.

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