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lotus festival: a long waiting tradition

Lotus Festival 2014
Lotus Festival 2014
Kathleen Khao

On the second week of July on Saturday July 12th and Sunday July 13th, Echo Park hosted it's annual 34th Lotus Festival. From the years of 2008 to 2013, the Park went under a renovation. The lake was drained, new paddle boats were brought in, and new playgrounds were built.

I can tell you of the many stories and rumors that went around when the lake was drained, but that would counteract the point of this article. I will just leave off at the point that the lake became full of debris and needed to be drained. There was no room for the lotuses to grow. After several years of failed blooming of the Lotus, the park decided it needed change. While finding lotuses to fill the lake, the city decided the park needed a new face to bring in more people. It would boost both the health and attractiveness of the city.

After a 5 year effort, the park had finally revived along with the Lotus Festival. Previously, before the renovation of the park, the Lotus Festival was shut down due to lack of funding from the LA County Recreational and Environmental group. That did not mean that there were no Festival, there was the Echo Park Neighborhood Grill and the Echo Park Neighborhood-Get-Together (The city couldn't really decide which one sounded better so they tried out both on 2 different years.). It was a day were the community got together and had a BBQ. It was similar to the Lotus Festivals with food provided by different venders and performances, but it was more localized than publicized.

The first thing you see upon arriving at the park is the shimmering surface of the lake, the guardrails, benches, and a trail that wraps around the lake. It is a great improvement that promotes safety and beauty into one. Most of all, it is the lake of lotuses that stands out. It spreads almost halfway across the lake. There are pinks, whites, and yellow lotuses. Benches are elevated so they provide small space of privacy through the spacing between each one. In addition, there are small information boards around the park that addresses the history of Echo Park and the beginning of the Lotus Festival.

On this particular day, the Lotus Festival, many people from different culture congregate to celebrate not just the blooming of the Lotus, but the people as well. These are seen through the different food and cultural performances that appear at the festival. To list a few, there are: Chinese, Thai, Laos, Cambodian, Mexican, Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian and Philippinos.

Although it is over, there is always next year. Parking is normally available at Logan Elementary School for free, but if it is not open, there is street parking (very limited). There are normally booths that offer free information on different issues such as child abuse, sexual violence, community, volunteer opportunities, and many more issues. They change from year-to-year.

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