This past weekend, Echo Park hosted its 34th Lotus Festival, celebrating the blossoming of the flowers in Echo Park Lake. It was actually the first Lotus Festival since the park reopened after going through an intense renovation process that included draining the lake. I stopped by a bit on Saturday to check out the event and admire the scenery like the tons of other visitors.
I’m not gonna go too much into the history of the park since you can already read about that in a previous post that I made called “Lunch in Echo Park“. Still, I do want to revisit the story of how the lotus flowers returned to the lake because the story is just so interesting (to me at least) that it is worth repeating.
Prior to the lake’s renovation, the lotus flowers were not doing so well and many of the plants were dying. The first lotus flowers in the lake were presumably planted in the 1920s by Aimee Semple McPherson, the founder of the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel, so the loss of the flowers was a historic loss to the community. It seemed like the lake would no longer have any descendants from those original plants, but a strange twist wound up making things better.
Apparently, there was a man living in Reseda who had stolen stalks from the lake and was growing them in his own personal greenhouse. The lotuses in Echo Park are protected and stealing them is frowned upon, but this act of thievery actually ended up benefiting the community in the long run. The city bought hundreds of stalks from the man and they were subsequently replanted. Now, the lake appears to have a large and thriving group of lotuses and many people came out this year to see them bloom. You can read more about this story here.
The festival had a lot of booths for food, vendors, and community organizations. and there was also a stage that featured cultural performances throughout the day. The Philippines was the host country this year (different Asian countries rotate as host), but it really was a multicultural event and a group doing Hawaiian dances was performing when I stopped by, followed by a martial arts group. On the lake, there were dragon boat races and the one that I watched was hilarious and involved two boats that didn’t seem to know what they were really doing. I’m not positive, but I think that anyone can decide to try out the dragon boats during the festival. It’s something that I think I’d want to do next time!
In related news, Echo Park was also recently featured in Alex & Sierra’s music video for their single, “Scarecrow”. Check that out below.