There was dancing in the streets of the Mission once again on Sunday as a colorful procession of Samba dancers, sweeping folkloric skirts, tilting lowriders and fantastic floats made their way down Mission Street for Carnaval San Francisco’s first Grand Parade since the start of the pandemic.
Representing grooves and moves from across Latin America, hundreds of performers—from shimmying Samba dancers in feathered headdresses to Aztec dancers pounding the pavement with their feet—brought the spirit of Carnaval back to life after Covid canceled the full-scale celebration for the last two years. This year’s theme was “Colores de Amor,” or “Colors of Love.”
@CarnavalSF is back this weekend after a two-year pause since the pandemic hit. Check out the largest celebration of Latino, Caribbean and African traditions in San Francisco. #sfstandard #sanfrancisco #sf #sfnews #bayarea #carnaval #parade #festival #memorialweekend #tiktok #fyp #foryou #foryoupage #thisisforyou @San Francisco Giants
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But the festivities did not stop at the end of the parade route. Under fluttering Del Sol flags, a festival on Harrison Street showcased a variety of foods, music and wares from across the Latin diaspora. Notably, this year’s festival featured the city’s first-ever community-led, permitted cannabis garden.
Originally conceived as a parade around Precita Park in the late 1970s, Carnaval SF took the form of a small-scale community resource fair during the height of the pandemic. While Carnaval never left during Covid, “it feels like we’re back home,” said the event’s executive director Rodrigo Durán. “This is a demonstration of how resilient we are.”
“I’m totally ready for the whole shebang,” said 65-year-old Liz Zuniga, a parade attendee who’s been setting up at the same spot annually for Carnaval near the corner of Mission and 24th streets for the past 20 some-odd years. “I’m ready to party down and just have so much fun.”
Performers in San Francisco’s Carnaval Parade on Sunday, May 29, 2022. | Nick Otto for The Standard
She was also excited to share the tradition with her 16-year-old granddaughter for the first time.
“I want her to be a part of this so that when I’m gone and she’s here, I want her to come here and enjoy all this and bring her children and have this wonderful time,” said Zuniga.
By the time the parade kicked off a little after 10 a.m., the sidewalks were filled with spectators who blew whistles and caught beads from processors in true Carnaval fashion.
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