"From the King Road side of Mexican Heritage Plaza, I look west down a side street and see the top of the Fairmont Hotel in the distance. I can also…
It was a scene that would’ve stopped traffic had the City not taken the time to do so itself earlier that morning. Bikers, skaters, and walkers alike were drawn to the explosions of color and sound that emanated from the corner of Alum Rock and King last Sunday during the most recent installment of Viva Calle San José.
In a fitting homage to Valle Calle’s theme this year, Downtown and Eastbound: El Corazón, the School of Arts and Cultures, as part of their Celebrate Mayfair Project, hosted a vibrant assortment events in the shade of one of the Eastside’s most prized institutions, the Mexican Heritage Plaza.
Hundreds of folks turned out to bask in the familiar warmth that rose from the green turf that Mayferia staff had already laid out the previous Friday for a community movie night. I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the armadas of children that were taking full advantage of the 100 plus pounds of sand that had been trucked in to create a giant sandbox.
But while the kids occupied themselves with sand castles or channeled their inner Diego Rivera and Frida Kahlo at the Helmet Decorating station, the rest of the community bore witness to a stacked lineup of cultural performances that seized the attention of even the most dedicated of bikers and runners that tried to pass on by and ignore the festivities.
Onlookers were first rattled awake by the booming bass that sprung from the drums of the Aztec Dance troupe Calpulli Tonalehqueh while the dancers moved across the stage with a calculated ferocity that could only be matched by the sunlight glinting off their brown bodies and the bright, burning colors of their headdresses.
They were followed by the infectious smiles and twirling kaleidoscope dresses of a local folklorico group Los Lupenos De San Jose , as they leapt and tapped their way right into the hearts of abuelitas sitting in lawn chairs and the software engineer transplants standing just a few feet from one another.
The lineup rounded out with the gritos and shrills of Banda Nuevo Estilo as folks in boots, tennies, and no shoes at all converted the artificial turf into a dance floor that ignited memories of warm, summer evenings on el rancho for many of those in attendance.
Besides a killer line-up, attendees were also had the opportunity to indulge themselves with tacos as well as receive crucial information from a wide array of non-profits and city services. that included
However, this space, this experience, could not have come at a more opportune moment.
While millions of Dreamers, Muslims, and other members of disenfranchised communities have had to endure a concentrated assault on their very existence, Sunday afternoon was a much needed reprieve from a battle that begins from the moment one takes their first breath in the morning, to the last moment of consciousness before sleep arrives with a dirty rag to wipe clean the whiteboard of a day filled with pain, bitterness, and anxiety.
It was an opportunity to take a deep breath before bellowing out a bold statement of cultural pride and relevancy in a time of great uncertainty in San José, Santa Clara County, and across the country.
It was a necessary reminder that the flame of hope still burns, eager and bright, in the hearts minds, and souls of the Eastside community.
All that’s left is to feed it.