The true spirit of Christmas filled the AJ Padelford Park this past Friday (Dec. 20) where hundreds of family members representing three generations attended the 18th Annual Posada Navidena De La Comunidad. Friday’s celebration was held on the 7th day of a nine-day celebration reenactment of the search for lodging that Mary and Jesus did nine days before Christmas. Traditionally the celebration begins on December 16 and ends on Christmas Eve. Artesia begins the tradition two days early and ends on Sunday, the 20th since many residents have their family gatherings on the 24th and 25th.
Maria Hurtado is a parent who has been involved since its beginning more than 18 years ago. “I do it for the community,” she said through a Spanish translator. “The event keeps the community united and passes on the tradition to our future generations.”
She said each night a different family will gather at the park and walk through the streets to another family’s home, who takes the Nativity scene into their home giving shelter to Mary and Joseph. “Each night we pray to the Holy Spirit so by the ninth day the Holy Spirit will answer our prayers,” said Hurtado.
The evening’s festivities began around 5:30 p.m. The Nativity scene was carried by four participants and led the candle-lit procession through the neighborhood with everyone singing the Posada Song. Former State Assembly member Tony Mendoza was among the hundreds of residents in the procession. He said the Posadas began in 1996 on 167th Street by parents to introduce the tradition to the children. The following year another block joined followed by another, and the tradition grew to the event it is today.
Around 6:30 p.m. everyone returned to park’s recreation center. Residents enjoyed the evening with a traditional feast of tamales, tostadas, along with hot coco, pastries, and treats including youth song and a magic show. The evening culminated with the toy give away and a visit from Santa.
One can say the proverb “it takes a village to raise a child” definitely applied to Friday’s event. AJ Padelford Park Parent Group, the LEAD Foundation, and Artesia & Cerritos Rotary Club sponsored the toy giveaway. The City of Artesia and the Parks & Recreation Department are co-sponsors along with community partners: Artesia & Cerritos Lions Club, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, Cerritos Optimist Club, AJ Padelford Park Teen Group, Miss Artesia & Court, Los Angeles Fire Department Station No. 30, and a small army of residents and volunteers from the community.