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L.A. Fiesta Broadway Draws 500,000 People : Cinco de Mayo: Kickoff of week of events was the largest cultural block party downtown since 1986.

April 30, 1990|NANCY WRIDE and JEORDAN LEGON | TIMES STAFF WRITERS

The Street Scene, an outdoor food and music festival that was a downtown fixture for nine years, was canceled by the Los Angeles City Council because of financial troubles and violence. One man was fatally shot and four others were stabbed.

City officials blamed excessive drinking and the failure of a punk rock band to appear for the unruly crowd. Fiesta Broadway organizers said they took note of the Street Scene's mistakes.

They only booked "family-oriented" entertainers. The festival began and ended earlier than the Street Scene. And 350 Los Angeles police officers were joined by 220 private security guards to control the crowd.

Organizers are hoping the festival becomes the largest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the country, said Emilio Nicolas Jr., general manager of KMEX-TV.

The city of Los Angeles co-sponsored the festival and, along with providing police officers, kicked in $300,000 for additional staffing. Any profit from the festival will support Miracle on Broadway, a nonprofit partnership of business owners and the Community Redevelopment Agency that is trying to spruce up the street and improve its image. Ironically, many merchants reported that business was actually down Sunday, although they believe the festival will produce long-term benefits by showing that Broadway is a safe place to shop.

One of the year's biggest celebrations for the region's residents of Mexican-origin and other Latinos, Cinco de Mayo marks the victory of Mexican troops over French soldiers on May 5, 1862, in the central Mexican town of Puebla.

Jessie Perez of East Los Angeles said his first priority at the festival was meeting women, and he zeroed in on Teri Pink, Miss Carnation, who caught his eye in her red miniskirt uniform.

"I'm Mexican so I know all about my own culture," said Perez, who attended the Fiesta with two black friends and a Latino buddy. "I wanted to show them. Yesterday we did the African-American" cultural experience at a Carson festival.

"There's more security at this thing than the Street Scene. It's safer, less violent, less drinking. I like that," Perez said.

At Guadalupe Wedding Chapel on Broadway, a young couple sat in an office waiting to be married. Wedding music was piped into the office through a speaker on the ceiling, competing with the bandstands outside.

"We had thought of getting married before," said Jose Bibian, 25, of Inglewood. "But when we came to the fiesta and saw the chapel, we just decided to do it."

Added his bride, Maria Alma Vasquez, 15, who said she had her parents' consent to marry: "Now we can celebrate our wedding anniversary at Fiesta Broadway for years to come."

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