Echo Park Lotus Festival returns after three years

07/15/2014 2:51 pm0 commentsViews: 32

Independent Staff Report

ECHO PARK — After a three-year absence, the Lotus Festival returned to Echo Park last weekend.

The two-day festival was the first held by the lake since 2011, before the park was closed for a $45 million storm water improvement project that caused the lake to be drained.

Echo Park itself reopened last year but the festival wasn’t held while festival organizers and park officials wondered if the lotuses would return.

Those who attended the festival Saturday and Sunday could see for themselves that the lotuses had indeed returned to the lake. Thousands of people posed for pictures in front of the lake and the colorful pink and white flowers that surround it.

Among those attending the festival were City Councilmen Gil Cedillo and Mitch O’Farrell, who both took part in the popular dragon boat races that are a festival tradition.

There also were performances by dance troupes and other live entertainment, martial arts demonstrations, a variety of food booths and other activities..

O’Farrell, whose district includes Echo Park, said he was glad the festival had returned, calming the fears of constituents who thought the park’s closure would mean the end of the park, its lake and its lotuses that have marked the festival, which was first held in 1972.

Back then, it was a one-day festival called the “Day of the Lotus.” But the festival grew each year, eventually becoming a two-day event that brought as many as 250,000 people a year top the park.

The festival is held in July to give the flowers a chance to open and show off their golden centers.

The celebration also was created to promote the contributions of local Asian Americans to the city, honoring a specific ethnicity each year. This year’s festival had a Philippines theme.

Prior to the park’s closure in 2011, the man-made lake’s lotuses had lost most of their luster, with pollution, bacteria, predators, sediment build-up and other factors contributing to the decline in the number of flowers that bloomed each year.

But before the park could close, a local horticulturist snipped some of the flowers and bred them on his own. When the lake reopened, he restored the lotuses to the lake where they seem to be thriving once again.LOTUS FESTIVAL 2014 17014

The Lotus Festival returned to Echo Park Saturday and Sunday after a three-year absence to make way for a storm water improvement project that caused the park’s lake to be drained. The festival featured entertainment provided by Asian dance troupes (above) and the ever-popular dragon boat races (below). Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, whose district includes Echo Park (below left) took part in one of the dragon boat races. Photos by Gary McCarthy

The Lotus Festival returned to Echo Park Saturday and Sunday after a three-year absence to make way for a storm water improvement project that caused the park’s lake to be drained. The festival featured entertainment provided by Asian dance troupes and the ever-popular dragon boat races . Los Angeles City Councilman Mitch O’Farrell, whose district includes Echo Park (below left) took part in one of the dragon boat races.
Photos by Gary McCarthy

MITCH O'FARRELL LOTUS FESTIVAL GIL CEDILLO- LOTUS FESTIVAL 17022 LOTUS FESTIVAL 2014 17009

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