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JAUNTS: In and Around the Valley | THE VALLEY

Party in the Park

Festival promises 60 acts, 50 vendors, a parade and drill team competition.


If you're headed to the park this weekend, you'll find much more going on than dog-walking, duck feeding and a few pickup games.

How about dancing to good salsa music performed live by popular bands? Even those who don't really know how to dance to salsa may find themselves naturally moving their hips to its fast-paced beat.

If you prefer rock, there will be a few bands playing hits as well as popular tunes from the '50s.

The music is only a part of the entertainment planned at the "Salute to Recreation" family festival Friday through Sunday in Northridge.

Costa Azul and Rudy Regalado headline the salsa acts, Line of Fire and Bad Medicine are among the rock bands, and Lil' Elmo and the Cosmos is the featured oldies act.

This weekend they will perform on the main stage set up within the 80-acre Northridge Recreation Center. The area will transform into one big party with fireworks, lots of music, dancing, contests, shopping, a chili blowout and a parade.

The yearly event, which is free to the public, was created in 1982 by the city Department of Recreation and Parks to acquaint the community with some of its activities and services.

A department spokesman estimates that about 300,000 people will attend the three-day event, which will feature four large stages, more than 60 acts, about 50 vendors and an array of attractions for kids.

"Well over 500 people have been working since January to put this on," said Recreation and Parks spokesman Rob Frey. "Our mission is to provide diverse recreation, and this does it."

The entertainment includes folk dancing, clogging, Cajun and jazz music. There's also a Hawaiian village, site of a giant luau with festive island music and hula dancing in grass skirts.

The children's area includes puppets, a petting zoo, miniature train rides, clowns, panning for gold and elephant rides.

The Saturday parade, from 10 to 11 a.m., features recently crowned Miss Universe, Brook Mahealani Lee, a 26-year-old from Pearl City, Hawaii, as the grand marshal.

Former L.A. Laker and UCLA basketball star Jamal Wilkes is also scheduled to be in the parade as well as horses, vintage cars, local drill teams and drum corps.

If you're in the mood to shop, there will be aisles of vendors selling clothing, jewelry, arts and crafts, novelty items and leather goods.

You might want to take a break to catch the drill-team competition at 1 p.m. Saturday. It's open to all ages and will feature military style, props teams and drum corps from across L.A.

On Sunday, there's a chili blowout and salsa-tasting competition with country and Cajun music in the background. Winners receive trophies, ribbons and cash awards of up to $500.

"This is one of our most popular events," Frey said. "People come from all over for this and it's real fun."

There's also a large sports card and memorabilia show Sunday with more than 50 dealer tables and free drawings. If that doesn't sound interesting, you can just dance the weekend away.


"Salute to Recreation" family festival, Northridge Recreation Center, 10058 Reseda Blvd., Northridge. Hours: Fri., 5-10 p.m.; Sat.-Sun., 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Admission is free. Information: 767-4171 or 756-8060.

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