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Festivals Help Bridge Cultural Gaps

September 05, 1993|EMILY ADAMS

Multiculturalism is a war-weary term.

It has been beaten by academics, bloodied in riots and racism. Hope for the grand ideal--that all cultures can live side by side in peace and understanding--seems to falter. People leave town.

Those who are left face the big question: Why stay in this hodgepodge of tension and traffic? Today, we can help answer that question with baklava and black beans. We probably have the best international festivals of food and dance anywhere.

This weekend, you can catch the 44th annual Grecian Festival at the Rainbow Lagoon in Long Beach. If you're not already addicted to Greek food, go at your own peril. And be respectful. This, after all, is eating from the cradle of civilization with souvlaki (shish-kabob), spanakopitas (cheese and spinach pastries) and dolmathes (stuffed grape leaves), along with any number of honey-laden sweets.

This party brings in folk dancers, acrobats and traditional songs. For musical purists there will be liturgical hymns and Psalms, sung in the style of 7th-Century Byzantium. For those who find themselves unable to leave the tables loaded with Mediterranean delicacies, authentic Greek cooking will be offered at 2 and 4 p.m. today and Monday.

The Grecian Festival will go from noon until 9 p.m. each day. Admission is $4 per day. Children 11 or younger get in free. All proceeds benefit the building fund for the Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Greek Orthodox Church of Long Beach. Information: (714) 220-0730 or (310) 421-8358.

Looking a little further into the future, we have two celebrations of Independence Day, one in Montebello, the other in Long Beach.

The celebrations commemorate Sept. 16, the day the Mexican Independence movement was born in Dolores, Mexico, in 1810; and Sept. 15, the day Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica gained their independence from Spain in an 1821 treaty.

The Hispanic Coalition of Montebello will sponsor its 4th annual Noche Mexicana Festival in Montebello City Park, 1313 Whittier Blvd., Sept. 10 to 12. Admission is $3, with no charge for children 10 or younger.

This party features dancing, a La Banda music contest and an appearance by Olympic boxing gold-medalist Oscar de la Hoya to crown Mr. and Miss Latino. Proceeds go to Hispanic Youth Education, which offers college scholarships to students in the Montebello Unified School District.

In Long Beach, the Fiesta de la Independencia will be Sept. 15 in Veterans Stadium, 101 E. 28th St., 6 to 10:30 p.m. It's sponsored by Casa de la Cultura de Long Beach.

This festival will feature folkloric dancing, a parade of flags from Central America and the Cuauhtemoc Aztec Dancers.

Like all other fiestas, there will be food: lots of traditional Mexican dishes that you would probably have a hard time finding in Seattle.

Remember? That's one of the reasons we live here.

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