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After Two-Year Absence, Central American Festival And Parade Returns

Three women wearing dresses and crowns stand on top of a carriage wave to the people during the parade
Crowned representatives from different Latin American countries wave to the crowd during the COFECA parade from 2019.
(Courtesy of COFECA)
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The Central American Festival Committee (COFECA) will resume their annual Independence Day festival and parade this Sunday after waiting out the pandemic for two years.

COFECA: Where And When
  • Festival: The festival begins on Saturday, Sept. 17 in MacArthur Park (2230 W. 6th St.).

  • Parade: The parade will start at Vermont and Pico Boulevard at 11 a.m. on Sunday, Sept. 18, and end at MacArthur Park.

The annual L.A. event celebrates the independence day of several Latin American countries.

The parade will feature decorative carriages adorned in each country's flag colors. Dancers, musicians, crowned princesses and beauty queens from each represented country will participate, while on-goers can enjoy an array of food vendors serving pupusas, tamales and more.

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The pre-parade festivities started earlier this week with an award ceremony to name Nicaragua as this year’s parade host. The ceremony also served to bestow sashes on the distinguished citizens and grand marshals of each participating country who will lead the parade.

“We shouldn’t have to leave behind where we come from,” said Benjamin Posada, president of COFECA. He says the parade is important for Central Americans as a way to celebrate their roots.

COFECA started in 1983 when Salvadorans and Nicaraguans in L.A. organized a protest on September 15, the Independence Day for both nations. People from other Latin American countries joined too, in protest of the civil wars in their countries, and to criticize a U.S. intervention policy that caused a mass exodus of refugees to flee their homeland.

Since then, the organization has continued to unify the Central American diaspora from Belize to Panama by organizing yearly Independence Day festivities, inviting dancers from their native homelands to show baile folklórico (folk dances) and musicians to play ballads to honor their indigenous roots. Costa Rica, Guatemala and Honduras also each celebrate Independence Day on Sept. 15.

Posada says one of the parade’s main goals this year is to show their support to people migrating from Central America and looking for asylum at the border.

“We are one way or another fighting for them because we want them to get here.”

The committee is supporting migrants in Tijuana by providing them with food and clothing.

Elizabeth Castano leads a committee preparing the Guatemalan carriage for the parade. She’s lived in L.A. for over 30 years and says the parade helps immigrants remember their roots.

“We are living during a time where everyone wants to escape their countries because of the violence and the poverty and so we come here,” said Castano. “But once we are here, we forget our roots … the whole month of September is a really beautiful time to remember.”

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This year, the representatives of the Dominican Republic have joined the organization, with members of Peru and Venezuela also participating in the parade.

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