Lotuses are a no-show at Los Angeles Lotus Festival

Mercer 4969

C. J. Dablo

Southern California performers played traditional musical instruments and danced to music from Asia and the Pacific Islands at the Lotus Festival at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles, California on July 10 and 11, 2010.

How can you have a Lotus Festival without the namesake attraction? Visitors to the two-day event at Echo Park Lake in Los Angeles had to conjure their best images of the delicate blooms that sit atop lily pads because there weren’t any. Many blame the bacterial pollution that's in the water.

“Everybody’s asking, ‘Where are the lotuses? What did you do to the lotuses?’” said Olga Morales. Morales is a project manager for Harris & Company, which is working with the city's public works department to propose a $65 million plan to restore the lake. Morales said that bacteria and other toxins have been found in the water. “A lot of the fishes have died ... the turtles ... the water is filthy.”

Hedy Rosario, 67, of Echo Park, a six-time festival attendee, would not get to see her beloved lotuses.

“It’s too sad.”

City officials plan to hold a meeting next month to talk about a two-year plan by the city’s public works department to drain the lake and close the park with the hope of restoring the historic lake’s plant life.

Despite the flower downer, hundreds of people funneled through the park to celebrate Asian and Pacific Islander cultures this weekend. Organizers expected thousands of visitors to the two-day event that ended Sunday.

Ray Martinez, a 49-year-old construction worker from Echo Park, stretched out on a patch of grass to enjoy the festival with his pit bull mix.

“Just bringing everybody together for the day,” Martinez said.

While attendees streamed past tents offering henna tattoos, parrots, parasols, jewelry and clothing, performers took to the stage. There, girls draped in rainbow-colored leis and beige grass skirts that nearly reached the floor danced the hula. Boys dressed in matching blue and white costumes pounded large drums and spun and twirled in sync.

Linda Leung, a 33-year-old Alhambra resident, brought her two young children in their strollers to watch the performers. They were having fun despite the lack of lotuses.

Leung is ethnically Chinese and came to the U.S. from Cambodia. She wanted to pass on her culture to her kids. She teaches the Chinese language to her children.

Cornelo Dilag, 25, of Buena Park, came to the event because he wanted to represent his country. Dilag came to the U.S. from the Iloilo province in the Philippines. He sat waiting in the audience an hour before he was scheduled to dance on stage with his group.

He wanted to encourage a cultural awareness amongst Filipinos who have been born in the U.S.

“Even though this is a dance, it tells a story, and hopefully that they’ll be encouraged to join a group like this,” Dilag said.

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