By Ekevara Kitpowsong
When the BART train stopped at the 24th and Mission station in the early hours of Sunday morning on May 29, hordes of people were already pouring out onto Mission Street—many of them dressed in colorful and flowery costumes.
The crowd instinctively began its pilgrimage down 24th Street to the starting point of the 2016 Carnaval San Francisco Grand Parade. Thousands of people, young and old, annually converge in the heart of the Mission District to witness and celebrate the lively Latin-American and Caribbean tradition.
It was the 38th annual parade, part of Carnaval San Francisco, a two-day celebration that is considered one of the largest in the city during the Memorial Day weekend.
The theme of this year’s parade was ¡Viva La Madre Tierra! which means “Long Live Mother Earth.” The parade kicked-off at 24th and Bryant Streets at 9:30 a.m. with a ceremonial blessing by Aztec dancers and then headed west to Mission Street.
AJ Stuntz, an eight-year-old stunt rider, led the parade of more than 30 music and dance troupes along with other marchers. Onlookers cheered the lowrider cars as they performed their usual bouncing antics.
Brilliantly decorated floats and dancers in rhythm with endless-tropical beats, dazzled and electrified crowds. The parade included scores of children in their own costumes keeping the beat as they walked along the parade route.
The stunning spectacle of masks, feathers, sequins, paint, and glitter on the dancers and floats brought a burst of color and energy to the streets.
The breathtaking parade wound down to its finale at Mission and 17th Streets around 2 p.m.
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