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L.A. City Council celebrates Persian New Year

Bouquets fill City Hall as members of the Iranian American community join council members in calling for rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal at the annual Nowruz celebration. The council also celebrates Latina History Day and St. Patrick's Day.

March 19, 2011|By Kate Linthicum, Los Angeles Times

Spring came a bit early for the Los Angeles City Council. Bouquets of fuchsia and violet flowers filled council chambers on Friday as council members stood up, one by one, to call for rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal.

They were not discussing the city's financial prospects. The occasion was Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Each March, the city's Iranian community throws a lavish Nowruz party at City Hall.

In the grand rotunda outside council chambers, goldfish glided inside gilded glass urns and tables overflowed with bite-size walnut cookies flavored with rose water, cardamom and honey.

Inside chambers, the council presented Persian American leaders with a city proclamation. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stopped by to pose for photographs and make a speech. Councilman Tony Cardenas said the city of Los Angeles is the largest employer of Persians outside of Iran.

The festivities on Friday were not limited to Nowruz. It was also Latina History Day, as City Council President Eric Garcetti noted, and the day the council officially marked St. Patrick's Day. (Council was in recess Thursday.)

Councilman Tom LaBonge, cherry-cheeked and smiling in a lime-green necktie, was organizing speakers for the St. Patrick's Day presentation when he bumped into Villaraigosa.

"That's yesterday's tie," the mayor said when they embraced.

"I've been up all night!" LaBonge replied.

He was kidding, although he did profess later to having spent a convivial evening with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, an Irish American fraternal group.

After the St. Patrick's Day presentation, three bagpipers cleared their throats and started playing. They were from the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society, and they wore police badges and green kilts.

Music echoing, they marched out the back door of the chambers and up a long hallway, followed by a parade of people and another musician beating a tire-size bass drum.

At the end of the hallway, a collection of elegantly dressed Iranian Americans who had been sipping cappuccinos and nibbling blackberries paused to take in the scene.

kate.linthicum@latimes.com

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