On Sunday, September 10, the community of East Los Angeles came together to celebrate Mexican Independence Day at the 77th Annual East Los Angeles Mexican Independence Day Parade.

The parade route took place on famous Cesar Chavez Avenue, extending from Mednik Avenue to Gage Avenue. Thousands of locals and visitors celebrated the moment despite the 90-degree heat, with vendors hawking fruit snacks, agua fresca and other traditional treats along the one-mile-long parade route. 

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The attendees celebrated and honored Mexican culture. Photo by Cassidy Reyna.

East LA is known for its large Latino community, predominantly made up of Mexicans, Mexican-Americans and Chicanos. Although the community is home to many Latinos, hosting the parade in East LA has great significance as the neighborhood is known as “little Mexico.” The parade, which began at 10 a.m., was organized by the Mexican Patriotic Civic Committee (CMCP). 

This year’s parade theme was about empowering Latina women and dedicated to highlighting  the legacy of the late LA County First District Supervisor Gloria Molina. In addition, this year’s Grand Marshall was actor Mark Consuelos, an American actor best known for his portrayal of Mateo Santos on the ABC soap opera All My Children (1995–2001; 2010) and as Hiram Lodge on The CW drama Riverdale (2017–2023). Today, Consuelos hosts the ABC morning show “Live with Kelly and Mark” alongside his longtime wife, Kelly Ripa.

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Many parade performers sat on the backs of dancing horses and waved to the attendees. Photo by Cassidy Reyna.

Parade organizers told CALÓ NEWS that this year’s parade was designed to tell the story of each region of Mexico, from Jalisco to Oaxaca, from Aguas Calientes to Sinaloa. The venue provided music, dance and entertainment that highlighted the various Mexican cultures. There were a few floats highlighting each region of Mexico with colorful signs. Following their floats were folklorico dancers, symbolizing the region the dance originated from.

Parade attendees Jesse Garcia and Guillermo Guiarte were excited to attend the parade, as their daughters were featured performers in this year’s parade. Garcia and Guillermo are former East LA residents who are now living in Rancho Cucamonga. “It feels good to see the community come together. It’s good we can come here and still have the community and tradition as if we were kids,” Garcia said. 

“It’s beautiful seeing everyone have a good time,” added Oscar Hernandez. Hernandez attended the parade with his mother, Elvira Macias. Hernandez’s father grew up in East LA and coming back to his father’s hometown was comforting to him and his mother. “The last time we came, De La Hoya was still boxing and he was in the parade,” Hernandez said. Oscar De La Hoya was the parade grand marshal 30 years ago, in 1992. 

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The Garfield High School Marching Band playing “Baila Esta Cumbia” by Selena on the parade route. Photo by Reyna.

James A. Garfield High School’s marching band, also known as “the Pride of East LA,” also performed in the parade alongside the school’s cheer and drill team, all of whom were accompanied by leadership, faculty and staff representing the high school. Many locals and parade attendees have attended Garfield High School. The high school plays a huge role in the history of East LA, and the Bulldog pride shined through at the parade. Garfield High School is widely known due to the film “Stand and Deliver,” starring Lou Diamond Phillips and Edward James Olmos, telling the story of the legendary Jaime Escalante and the impact it had on his students.  

Former marching band member and now drumline assistant Diane Rivera-Ramirez graduated from Garfield High School in 2019. For her, this parade has touched the lives of her family in past generations and those that are younger than her. She is a former performer in the parade who this year attended in support of her younger brother, who is following in her footsteps in Garfield’s drumline.

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Some attendees even parked along the cross section of Mednik Avenue and Cesar Chavez Avenue with their old school cars dressed up in different aztec and cultural gear. Photo by Cassidy Reyna.

Rivera-Ramirez now volunteers her time with the band’s drumline as a drumline assistant, alongside her sister Andrea Rivera-Ramirez, who is also a Garfield alumni. “Marching at the Mexican Independence Parade as a freshman was terrifying. I had watched the parade the year before and then couldn’t believe I could do it. Yet there I was, upholding the traditions of those who had done it many times before me,” Rivera-Ramirez said. “The energy of the crowd is so exhilarating, making everyone feel proud of who they are.”

Israel Rivera-Ramirez, 12th grader at Garfield High School and the younger brother of Diane Rivera-Ramirez, felt so much joy when it came to playing the snare drum with the drumline in the parade. “I’ve always enjoyed watching my sisters perform in the parades when I was younger. When I was getting ready to come here, I was excited thinking about how the band was when I watched them and hoped I would be seen the same way I saw them,” he said.

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Mariachi performed at the parade. Photo by Cassidy Reyna

“I enjoy performing. I would say I’m excited and a little bit emotional since it will be my last parade,” Israel Rivera-Ramirez said. “For the most part, I am proud and a little nervous to do the actual performance, but hearing people cheer will make myself and my bandmates feel better and have fun.” 

As attendees watched the performers march by, it was clear to CALÓ NEWS that the energy was endless. It was almost as if, for one day, everyone in the community was able to set aside any differences and be at peace, a beautiful sight to see.

Emotions, excitement, and beauty surrounded East LA’s community during this year’s parade.

Cassidy Reyna (she/they) is a Los Angeles native and California State University, Long Beach Journalism graduate. While they were at CSULB, they were Managing Editor for Arts & Design for DÍG en Español...