Photo: Katherine Ramos
EL CENTRO – The spirit of New Orleans’ tradition was abundant in downtown El Centro for the 6th annual Mardi Gras Light Parade and Street Fair on Saturday.
Originally the event was a part of the special events program that ran during the 100th year anniversary of El Centro in 2007. Since it was the most popular out of all the events that year, the Mardi Gras parade became a signature event for the city.
“We wanted to do a festival downtown, a parade, and a street fair,” said Grace Connor, the coordinator of the funds for the event, “Mardi Gras had all the events that the council wanted.”
With the help of city sponsors and Los Vigilantes the event was declared by Connor and parade goers as the biggest one yet. The party stretched throughout downtown. The street was packed on all sides with people waiting for the parade as well as vendors selling trinkets and food. Even the downtown shops were decorated and open in the spirit of Mardi Gras.
“I can feel all of the spirit of Mardi Gras here,” said Guillermo Valacia, ramrod for Los Vigilantes.
Once the parade started, the small street went from being packed with people to a corridor of bodies for bands, floats, and cars. Every float was a light with the famous purple, green, and gold of Mardi Gras and beads were flying through the air.
Straight from the Big Easy and down the center of downtown came The Great Spartan Band. Having already gone to Mardi Gras, having one in their hometown touched players.
“I feel like the parade in my hometown brings people together to celebrate, even if they have differences,” said Alanna Brown, a flute player in the Central band, “and I loved it.”
Even when the parade was over, the party went on. Lines were still long at the food vendor stands and live bands stepped on stage to perform for a still lively crowd.