The precise date of the inaugural Echo Park Community Parade is a bit unknown.
“We were trying to think back to when the first parade took place and we just couldn’t come up with a date we all agreed on,” said Maryanne Hayashi, Executive Director at the Central City Action Committee. “Different organizations have sponsored over the years from chamber groups to local politicians, so there have been a lot of people involved…but no one really kept reliable archives.”
Though there’s no exact date to rely upon, something you can count on is Hayashi’s pride, involvement and love for this community and its parade over the years.
Hayashi joined the CCAC back in 1981. And while she’s been actively involved in the parade’s planning and organizing for over 38 years, Hayashi first participated in the yearly event as a member of the community.
“I’m from the community so I remember this parade growing up. My kids participated and were in the parade before I joined the CCAC. That’s how far I can go back!” said Hayashi.
Years ago, before the parade operated on an all volunteer basis, the local chamber of commerce ran and planned the event — and it looked quite a bit different than it does today.
“Back in the day when the chamber was very active, they’d buy those big commercial floats, there’d be horses, soldiers marching. It really functioned more like a general Los Angeles parade.”
Today, its focus has shifted from celebrating with big-budget parade floats to highlighting Echo Park’s youth.
“We run this event on a shoe-string budget. And with the little amount of money we had, we decided it was best to showcase and highlight the kids,” said Hayashi. “It’s something that’s turned into a real local neighborhood community parade, and it benefits both the parents and the kids.”
With school budgets shrinking, many extracurriculars programs like art, music and sports have been cut. So this parade offers a creative outlet for many Echo Park youths.
“Now these kids have a chance to perform and just have a good time in front of the community,” said Hayashi.
Assistance from community businesses, leaders and members keeps this parade functioning year after year.
“Local Echo Park businesses have been very supportive, it’s how we run the parade,” said Hayashi. “Sometimes we start off with less than $300 in the budget. Without help from the community, this parade wouldn’t exist.”
So, it’s no surprise that when asked what her favorite thing about the Echo Park Community Parade is, Hayashi doesn’t hesitate.
“The coming together of the local business community…and of course, watching those kids perform!” said Hayashi.
Nico is a proud sponsor of the Echo Park Community Parade. The parade takes place December 14th at 11am from Vin Scully to Park Ave. along Sunset Blvd.