To the wave of tricolor flags, singing and danzas Azteca, the Virgen de Guadalupe procession returned to East Los Angeles on Sunday after a one-year hiatus.
A few thousand Roman Catholic devotees lined up along Cesar Chavez Avenue to greet images of the mother of Jesus and view floats, bands, dancers and marchers.
The parade’s theme was “Always Forward in Mission and Hope.” Yet Sunday’s procession and subsequent Mass celebrated by Archbishop José Gomez felt like a homecoming for many.
“It’s a great blessing to be back and in person,” Gomez said. “Last year we couldn’t have it because of the pandemic, so the community presence is a great joy.”
Pico Rivera resident Nancy Aguirre, 25, watched the procession with her mother and grandmother near East Los Angeles College.
“It feels good to have this back in East Los Angeles,” Aguirre said. “There’s so much to enjoy: the music, the dancers, the Virgin Mary and our culture.
Sunday marked the procession’s 90th edition. The event was founded in 1931 in East Los Angeles by refugees from the Cristero War between pro- and anti-secular forces in Mexico.
Last year, procession organizers hosted a pandemic-sensitive car rally in San Gabriel that included a small Mass in the San Gabriel Mission’s parking lot.
Humberto Ramos, one of Sunday’s organizers, said it was important to return to East Los Angeles.
“Last year took a toll, and many parishioners and archdiocese folks I’ve spoken to said they wanted to come back to East Los Angeles,” said Ramos, parish life director of Epiphany Church in South El Monte. “They were really excited, so we got to work.”
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