Lotus Festival

By Alice Li

In 1972, the Department of Parks and Recreation and the Council of Oriental Organizations in Echo Park (what an outdated name!) collaborated to put on “The Day of the Lotus,” an event designed to highlight Asian American culture and presence in the community. Held next to the lotus flowerbed in Echo Park Lake, it coincided with the blooming of the lotus flowers.

Since then, it has been renamed the Lotus Festival, and has become an annual weekend-long event held each July. Each year, the festival features a different Asian culture. In addition, there are food stands, dragon boat races, artwork, vendors, performances, a children’s courtyard, and a fireworks show.  Check out the below photos from our archives of the first Lotus Festival!

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Check out her Lotus Blossom-like Hat and her soda can!

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Kimono-clad women enjoying the festival.

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Filipino Community Action Services at the Lotus Festival.

These past few years, the festival has undergone several trials. Pollution, temperature, bacteria, chemicals, and nonnative turtles threatened the lotuses, and the lotus beds are now gone. Budget cuts have also strained the city, leading to the cancellation of the festival in 2009. The Echo Park Department of Parks and Recreation has recently completed the process of draining, cleaning, and rehabilitating the lake.

Now that the park’s reopened, we hope the Lotus Festival returns this July!

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Women enjoying their time at the festival. Check out those LAPD salaries in the background!

For more photos of the first Lotus Festival, check out our Lotus Festival Collection on our HIstorypin Channel.

References and Further Reading:

“Brief History of the Lotus Festival,” Echo Park Now, http://www.echoparknow.com/2010/07/10/brief-history-of-the-lotus-festival/

“Lots of visitors at Lotus Festival, but still no lotuses,” Los Angeles Times, http://articles.latimes.com/2010/jul/12/local/la-me-lotus-festival-20100712

“Hope sinks for 2012 Lotus Festival, organizers cancel Echo Park event,” 89.3 KPCC, http://www.scpr.org/blogs/news/2012/06/27/6811/hope-sinks-2012-lotus-festival-echo-park-organizer/

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