The streets of downtown Los Angeles will come alive with the sounds and flavors of Latino culture for the second year at L.A. Fiesta Broadway, the pre-Cinco de Mayo bash set for Sunday, April 28.
And this $2-million cultural block party will be bigger and better than last year's event, according to festival organizers. The 1991 noon-to-dusk affair will be held over 36 city blocks, from Temple Street to Olympic Boulevard and extending over Hill, Broadway and Spring streets. Its predecessor covered only 12 city blocks along Broadway.
Estela Lopez, executive director of Miracle on Broadway, a nonprofit group of merchants dedicated to bringing new life to the street and a co-sponsor of the event, said the success of last year's fiesta paved the way. "We proved that this area can support a wonderful, ethnic entertainment extravaganza--that L.A. can have a downtown street fest," she said.
The fiesta's entertainment will build on last year's array of talent, according to Mario Proenza III, the show's producer. With more than 100 performers on seven stages, L.A. Fiesta Broadway will bring together well-known stars from all over the Spanish-speaking world.
The biggest draw is expected to be Xuxa, the sexy pop sensation from Brazil. Xuxa (pronounced SHU-sha) has a daily three-hour variety show for children in Brazil and her recordings in Spanish are popular throughout Latin America. She will be making her Los Angeles debut at Fiesta Broadway.
"That's a coup," said Proenza. "That's a minor miracle." Xuxa was touted as a top attraction for the inaugural fiesta but she did not perform.
Another headliner will be Mexican crooner Jose Jose. The popular bands Menudo from Puerto Rico and Fandango from Mexico will appeal to the younger fiesta-goers. And for fans of more traditional Mexican music, ranchera singers Lucha Villa and Queta Jimenez, whose fans know her as La Prieta Linda, will serenade the crowd with their ballads.
In addition to the big international names, local talent will be on stages throughout the fiesta. Among the acts will be Rudy Regalado's infectious brand of salsa and several top L.A.-based mariachi bands.
Richard Ramirez, general manager of Spanish-language station KMEX Channel 34, the main sponsor of the event, said his overall goal for L.A. Fiesta Broadway is to put the street fair on the map.
"We want it to be synonymous with the community here, with the city of Los Angeles," he said. "And what could be more significant in this region than an event celebrating Latino culture?"
Although last year's fiesta ended up losing money for KMEX, it was considered an artistic success.
Ramirez's goal for this year's party is "to offer a free celebration . . . to deliver top-name talent in a nice, safe and family-oriented environment."
Safety is indeed a priority for L.A. Fiesta Broadway, said Ramirez. A private security force of 500 will patrol the downtown district. The city of Los Angeles will dispatch members of the Los Angeles Police Department to the event. Like last year, the city is a co-sponsor of the fiesta and will contribute about $300,000 in staffing, organizers said. In early March, Mayor Tom Bradley endorsed the event and officially declared April 28 L.A. Fiesta Broadway Day in the city.
Last year's fiesta was called a crowd-control success. In the crowd of 500,000, there were only eight arrests, most of them for public drunkenness. Alcohol sales will be limited again this time, with only three areas to purchase beer, all of them monitored by security, said Proenza.
But there was one problem with overcrowding at the 1990 Fiesta Broadway: When throngs of people gathered at one stage for a big show, it resulted in human gridlock. Police closed all stages for half an hour while the huge crowd dispersed.
This year, said Proenza, the added city blocks should help to prevent such crowding problems. He said he expects about 500,000 revelers.
In addition, there will be more things to keep the crowd occupied between the big acts. Proenza cited a sports center with boxing and soccer exhibits and a small circus. Puppets, mimes, clowns and arcade games will also line the city streets. Food will be on sale and corporate sponsors will also have displays along the streets to promote their products.
Ramirez offers some hints on how to best experience the sights and sounds of Broadway: Wear sneakers or other good walking shoes, arrive early, take the bus to avoid problems with parking and get program schedules, which will be free at the festival.
For those who want to enjoy the festival at home, it will air live on KMEX. The local station will also tape a special to air later. In addition, the Univision network will tape a special to be aired on the Cinco de Mayo weekend to more than 400 Univision affiliates around the world.
* Organizers have released this list of entertainers who are among those scheduled to appear at L.A. Fiesta Broadway:
Jose Jose, Xuxa, Alejandra Guzman, Menudo, Lucha Villa, Queta (La Prieta Linda) Jimenez, Manuel Mijares, Garibaldi, Fandango, Freddy Fender-Texas Tornados, Johnny Canales.
Mariachi Los Camperos, Mariachi Sol de Mexico, Mariachi Los Galleros, Tierra, Poncho Sanchez, Rudy Regalado, Johnny Martinez, Jorge Muniz, Yarimore, la Sonora Dinamita, Danza Mexicana de Los Angeles.