Lion dances and fun in downtown San Diego!

Lion dancer meets small visitor to the 34th Annual 2016 San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair.
Lion dancer meets small visitor to the 34th Annual 2016 San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair.

To celebrate the Chinese New Year, a special festival is being held this weekend in downtown San Diego, in the historic old Chinatown section, now known as the Asian Thematic District. The event is called the 34th Annual 2016 San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair, and it’s being put on by the San Diego Chinese Center (SDCC). You can find the fun on two blocks adjacent to the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum. There are lion dances, drummers, temple dancers, story telling, a kung fu demonstration, and just lots and lots of cool sights.

I walked through the festival this morning around 10 o’clock and observed the opening ceremonies. Here are some colorful pics!

The CCBA Lucky Lion Dancers would soon be heading down the street through the crowd.
The CCBA Lucky Lion Dancers would soon be heading down the street through the crowd.
Tables in front of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum contained arts, crafts and many unique cultural objects.
Tables in front of the San Diego Chinese Historical Museum contain arts, crafts and many unique cultural objects.
These funny faces were for sale in a vendor's booth. There was lots of Chinese food and a variety of colorful wares for visitors to purchase.
These funny faces were for sale in a vendor’s booth. There was a lot of Asian food and a variety of colorful wares for visitors to purchase.
Uniquely beautiful Asian art could be seen up and down the street during the San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair.
Uniquely beautiful art could be seen up and down the street during the San Diego Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair.
Anyone could have their name written in Chinese!
Anyone could have their name written in Chinese!
2016 is the Year of the Golden Monkey. Monkey is the ninth zodiac animal in the twelve year cycle of the Chinese calendar.
2016 is the Year of the Golden Monkey. Monkey is the ninth zodiac animal in the twelve year cycle of the Chinese calendar.
The opening ceremony included an elaborate lion dance, then the display of this banner by San Diego dignitaries.
The opening ceremony included an elaborate lion dance on stage, then the display of this banner by San Diego dignitaries.
The energetic, exciting lion dance resumed, and people fed the lions red envelopes full of money for good luck!
The energetic, exciting lion dance resumed, and people fed the lions red envelopes full of money for good luck!
An explosion of lettuce from the hungry lions during the dance was cleaned up on the stage afterward! Lettuce symbolizes a fresh start in a new year.
An explosion of lettuce from the hungry lions during the dance was cleaned up on the stage afterward! Lettuce symbolizes a fresh start in a new year.
A drummer helps spur the dancing lions, a Laughing Buddha and a monkey into action!
A drummer helps spur the dancing lions, a Laughing Buddha and a monkey into action!
A long Chinese dragon on display. I believe a dragon dance would take place later. One of many cool sights at the annual San Diego festival!
A long Chinese dragon on display. I believe a dragon dance would take place later. One of many cool sights at the annual San Diego festival!

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Thriller flash mob scares Balboa Park visitors!

Zombies and ghouls gather for a scare at Balboa Park Halloween Family Day.
Zombies and ghouls gather for a scare at Balboa Park Halloween Family Day.

At first today’s Balboa Park Halloween Family Day seemed uneventful. A lot of park visitors out enjoying a sunny late October day. What could possibly go wrong?

The San Diego Police could not stop the frightening scene to come. Their skeleton crew was taking a lazy Saturday nap in the park.
The San Diego Police could not stop the frightening scene to come. Their skeleton crew was taking a lazy Saturday nap in the park.
Everything seemed peaceful and normal. A baby stroller headed down El Prado, carrying a sunflower.
Everything seemed peaceful and normal. A baby stroller headed down El Prado, carrying a sunflower.
The San Diego Zoo was showing a two-toed sloth to costumed kids eating candy for Halloween.
The San Diego Zoo was showing a two-toed sloth to costumed kids eating candy for Halloween.
This MTS lady seemed happy and so did the pumpkin behind her. But little did the visitors to Balboa Park know...danger was lurking nearby...
This MTS lady seemed happy and so did the pumpkin behind her. But little did the visitors to Balboa Park know…danger was lurking nearby…
The Doggie Costume Contest in Spanish Village promised to be a fun, tail-wagging affair.
The Doggie Costume Contest in Spanish Village promised to be a fun, tail-wagging affair.
This witch assured me she was a nice witch. Not one of those wicked ones. But I don't know about all those spooky symbols on the sign beside her.
This witch assured me she was a nice witch. Not one of those wicked ones. But I don’t know about all those spooky symbols on the sign beside her.
The glassblowers were making beautiful pumpkins. There's nothing very spooky here, right?
The glassblowers were making beautiful pumpkins. There’s nothing very scary here, right?
Now wait a minute. I see Godzilla strolling near the reflecting pool. Perhaps he emerged from deep waters to wreak havoc on San Diego. I hope not.
Now wait a minute. I see Godzilla strolling near the reflecting pool. Perhaps he emerged from deep waters to wreak havoc on San Diego. I hope not.
More nice pumpkins. These are arranged among pretty flowers and various exotic plants in the Botanical Building.
More nice pumpkins. These are arranged among harmless, pretty flowers and various exotic plants in the Botanical Building.
A lady, with a skull face painting, poses in a beautiful Dia de los Muertos dress. What could possibly go wrong today?
A lady, with a skull face painting, poses in a beautiful Dia de los Muertos dress. What could possibly go wrong today?
Oh, no! Here come the evil clowns! Now we asked for it!
Oh, no! Here come the evil clowns! Now we asked for it!
And now zombies are converging on the Plaza de Panama! One is limping horribly toward an undead bride in a wedding gown!
And now zombies are converging on the Plaza de Panama! One is limping horribly toward an undead bride in a wedding gown!
And now look! A crowd of limp, staggering figures is assembling in the plaza. What are they going to do?
And now look! A crowd of limp, staggering figures is assembling in the plaza. What are they going to do?
They're going to dance! It's Michael Jackson's Thriller!
They’re going to dance! It’s Michael Jackson’s Thriller!

It’s close to midnight and something evil’s lurking in the dark

Under the moonlight you see a sight that almost stops your heart

You try to scream, but terror takes the sound before you make it

You start to freeze as horror looks you right between the eyes

You’re paralyzed…

A scary flash mob, brought together by the San Diego Civic Dance Association, performs Thriller during Balboa Park Halloween Family Day.
A scary flash mob, brought together by the San Diego Civic Dance Association, performs Thriller during Balboa Park Halloween Family Day.

‘Cause this is thriller, thriller night

And no one’s gonna save you from the beast about to strike!

What a bunch of spooky fun! So much fun, they did it again and again!
What a bunch of spooky fun! So much fun, they did it again and again!

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Fun photos of Trolley Dances in water fountain!

Dancers in the fountain at San Diego's Waterfront Park reach skyward during the Trolley Dances.
Dancers in the fountain at San Diego’s Waterfront Park reach skyward during the Trolley Dances.

This morning I caught the very first performance of the Trolley Dances. The venue for the first stage of the Trolley Dances in 2015 is the County Administration Center Waterfront Park–to be exact, the long fountain on the north side of the County Administration Building.

When I arrived, a group of dancers was rehearsing and a videographer was setting up near the end of the fountain where the audience would watch. After a few minutes, the first mobile audience arrived, and I enjoyed a cool performance. And I mean cool. It was a water dance! On a very warm and muggy morning, I wouldn’t have minded rolling through and leaping about the refreshing water, either! But, alas, nobody who is sane would pay even a nickel to watch me dance.

The Trolley Dances is a unique tradition in San Diego. Put on by the San Diego Dance Theater, the outdoor performances occur in often surprising public places.  Those who watch get started every 45 minutes, traveling from one site to the next on foot and by public transit. This year, groups travel from the Waterfront Park to Balboa Park, taking one of the new MTS Rapid buses from Santa Fe Depot.

Anyone in San Diego who loves dance must check out the Trolley Dances. Performances continue throughout the day on Saturdays and Sundays, September 26 – 27 and October 3 – 4. More info can be found on their website.

Rehearsing and getting the video camera ready before the first Trolley Dances mobile audience arrives at 10 o'clock.
Rehearsing and getting the video camera ready before the first Trolley Dances mobile audience arrives at 10 o’clock.
A beautiful venue for a dance. Palm trees along the Embarcadero and San Diego Bay provide a perfect stage.
A beautiful venue for a dance. Palm trees along the Embarcadero and San Diego Bay provide a perfect stage.
Dancers rehearse the very beginning of the performance, which involves rolling out through the shallow fountain.
Dancers rehearse the very beginning of the performance, which involves rolling out through the shallow fountain.
They're rolling! During the summer, many tourists and visitors love running through the water. On such a warm morning, I almost jumped in myself!
They’re rolling! During the summer, many tourists and visitors love running through the water. On such a warm morning, I almost jumped in myself!
This nice lady saw my camera and provided a super smile!
This nice lady saw my camera and provided a super smile!
Stephan Koplowitz, an award-winning director and choreographer provides the dancers with some final advice before the first audience arrives.
Stephan Koplowitz, an award-winning director and choreographer provides the dancers with some final advice before the first audience arrives.
And here they come! Guides with Trolley Dances signs lead the way to the first unusual outdoor dance site.
And here they come! Guides with Trolley Dances signs lead the way to the first unusual outdoor dance site.
The dancers are lying in the water as everyone trickles in and finds a place to sit or stand.
The dancers are lying in the water as everyone trickles in and finds a place to sit or stand.
The first audience is ready! Here we go!
The first audience is ready! Here we go!
Slowly rolling...
Slowly rolling…
OH, NO!!! A child playing in the park nearby is heading out to join the dancers! Horrors!
OH, NO!!! A child playing in the park nearby is heading out to join the dancers! Horrors!
The young child is intercepted. I'm sorry, but this to me was the highlight of the performance!
The young child is intercepted. I’m sorry, but this to me was the highlight of the performance!
The dancers rise up as individuals, like living things emerging from primordial waters.
The dancers rise up as individuals, like living things emerging from primordial waters.
Some still lay flat on their backs, moving their feet as if coming to life. The dance was very organic, and very watery!
Some still lay flat on their backs, moving their feet as if coming to life. The dance was very organic, and very watery!
Rising up from the liquid into freedom and boundless space.
Rising up from the liquid into freedom and boundless space.
The free form dance was a very cool spectacle that everyone should enjoy.
The free form dance was a very cool spectacle that everyone should enjoy.
Now the dancers rise in unison, plunging forward, swirling, alive!
Now the dancers rise in unison, plunging forward, swirling, alive!
Dancers from San Diego Dance Theater provide wonderful entertainment on a sunny weekend day!
Dancers from San Diego Dance Theater provide wonderful entertainment on a sunny weekend day!
Clusters of dancers merge, writhe, change shape, like strange newborn beings experiencing life for the first time.
Clusters of dancers merge, writhe, change shape, like strange newborn beings experiencing life for the first time.
This artistic group seemed to be evolving, ascending into the world.
This artistic group seemed to be evolving, ascending into the world.
Flying skyward through the fountain!
Flying skyward through the fountain!
More beauty and mystery, as the dancers slowly spread south, away from the seated audience.
More beauty and mystery, as the dancers slowly spread south, away from the seated audience.
Another dynamic photo.
Another dynamic photo.
The dancers are now clearly moving away from the audience, pushing out into the broader world, over this bridge.
The dancers are now clearly moving away from the audience, pushing out into the broader world, over this bridge.
It is a shining, watery path that passes through many splashing fountains.
It is a shining, watery path that passes through many splashing fountains.
Moving outward, away, slowly, with poise.
Moving outward, away, slowly, with poise.
Beyond white curtains of water, away, into the unknown future...
Beyond white curtains of water, away, into the unknown future…
And the stunning performance is over. The dancers paused and bowed, as the mobile audience drew up beside them and applauded.
And the stunning performance is over. The dancers paused and bowed, as the mobile audience drew up beside them and applauded.

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Artists paint live Flamenco dancing in Spanish Village!

Guitar music propels Flamenco dancers in Balboa Park's Spanish Village.
Guitar music propels Flamenco dancers in Balboa Park’s Spanish Village.

This afternoon I enjoyed watching some amazing Flamenco dancing. Balboa Park’s colorful Spanish Village, the home to many artist studios, hosted the special event. As beautifully dressed lady Flamenco dancers performed for the public, local artists at easels painted away!

Flamenco dancing is fiery, stately and proud. Each dance and dancer glowed with unabashed human emotion. The audience learned a little about the nature of this Spanish folk dance, but I was so mesmerized I failed to jot down many notes. I remember that one dance was said to represent defiant joy, another a representation of pure, carefree womanhood.

The public was invited to watch local artists painting a performance by the La Paloma Flamenco Dance Company.
The public was invited to watch local San Diego artists painting a performance by the La Paloma Flamenco Dance Company.
Crowd shouts and claps as the whirling ladies move their limbs and tap feet with graceful, fluid, precise abandon.
Crowd shouts and claps as the whirling ladies move their limbs and tap feet with graceful, fluid, joyful abandon.
The energetic Spanish folk dancing causes colorful fabric to fly and twirl like a gauzy dream.
The energetic Spanish folk dancing causes colorful fabric to fly and twirl like a gauzy dream.
A range of powerful human emotion is transmitted to the audience during each fantastic Flamenco dance.
A range of powerful human emotion is transmitted to the audience during each fantastic Flamenco dance.
A carefully watching artist has made a few sketches during the performance in Spanish Village.
A carefully watching artist has made a few sketches during the performance in Spanish Village.
I don't know how an artist can begin to capture the dynamism and detail of the colorful, kinetic dance!
I don’t know how an artist can begin to capture the dynamism and detail of the colorful, kinetic dance!
A local artist from Spanish Village in Balboa Park streaks color across a canvas. A skilled hand and eye produces the same bold living essence expressed by the dance.
A local artist from Spanish Village in Balboa Park streaks color across a canvas. A skilled hand and eye produces the same bold living essence expressed by the dance.

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Photos of Old Town’s folklorico dance competition!

Ladies in Mexican folk costume gather in front of Old Town's Robinson-Rose House.
Ladies in Mexican folk costume gather in front of Old Town’s Robinson-Rose House.

I didn’t catch the names of the dance groups competing today. But I did get some fun photos! The sixth annual Fiesta de Reyes Folklórico Competition in Old Town San Diego State Historic Park was full of energy and color. In past years, the State Park has also been crowded with vendors during the Cinco de Mayo weekend. But not this year. All the commercial vendors were outside the park, along San Diego Avenue, and I believe this was a great idea. The center of historic Old Town is a representation of what life was like in San Diego in the 1800s. Its emphasis today on the authentic baile folklórico competition, which attracted talented troupes from throughout California, and a whole lot of spectators, seemed just right!

How good was the dancing? The participants were motivated to go full tilt with a first place prize of one thousand dollars! The dancers were evaluated by several renowned Mexican judges. It was fantastic!

Performers in the Cinco de Mayo weekend Folklorico Competition walk toward the Fiesta de Reyes stage area.
Performers in the Cinco de Mayo weekend Folklorico Competition walk toward the Fiesta de Reyes stage area.
A competing dance troupe wearing colorful costumes waits at the edge of Old Town's historic plaza.
A dance troupe wearing colorful costumes waits at the edge of Old Town’s grassy central plaza.
Traditional Mexican folklorico dancers have checked in for the big San Diego event!
Traditional Mexican folklorico dancers have checked in for the cool San Diego event!
A huge crowd watches as the super energetic dance contest is already underway.
A huge crowd watches as the super energetic dance contest is already underway.
With flowers in their hair, bright dresses and broad smiles, these dancers bring cheers and whoops from the crowd.
With flowers in their hair, bright dresses and broad smiles, these dancers bring cheers and whoops from the crowd.
Dances and costumes from different parts of Mexico can be quite unique.
Dances and costumes from different parts of Mexico can be quite unique.
These guys are full of stomp and vigor and so is the crowd!
These stomping guys are full of vigor and so is the crowd!
Long colored ribbons stream from very odd costumes. The headpieces appear to be religious icons or altars.
Long colored ribbons stream from very odd costumes. The headpieces appear to be religious icons or altars.
Sacred images of Christ crown these dancers' heads. I believe I heard this peculiar tradition originated in Jalisco, but I might be wrong.
Sacred images of Christ crown these dancers’ heads. I believe I heard this peculiar tradition originated in Jalisco, but I might be wrong.
Frilly, flouncy dresses were seen throughout Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Frilly, flouncy dresses were seen throughout Old Town San Diego State Historic Park.
Traditional Mexican folk dancers in long flowing skirts dazzle the big crowd.
Traditional Mexican folk dancers in long flowing skirts dazzle the cheering crowd.
Another sensational performance!
Another sensational performance!
These were the first place winners!
These were the first place winners!

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Trolley Dances on San Diego City College steps.

San Diego Dance Theater performs Trolley Dances at City College.
San Diego Dance Theater performs Trolley Dances at City College.

The Trolley Dances, a unique event put on by the San Diego Dance Theater, is being held this year at downtown’s City College. I live a short walk away, so I figured I’d head that way this morning before it became too hot. (We’re experiencing mild but very toasty Santa Ana weather here in Southern California.) I thought that perhaps I could snap a few pics as a casual bystander.

The Trolley Dances involves a mobile audience, which walks from venue to venue. The dances are staged in some of the most unexpected public places. Every year the locations change.

I was successful! These photos are of the third “stage” of the 2014 Trolley Dances…

One unusual venue, at bottom of steps on the campus of San Diego City College.
One unusual venue, at bottom of steps on the campus of San Diego City College.
Here come people who are enjoying a variety of surprising performances.
Here come people who are enjoying a variety of surprising performances.
Audience gets ready to watch the third dance of the 2014 Trolley Dances.
Audience gets ready to watch the third dance of the 2014 Trolley Dances.
Dancers in flowing blue appear at the top of the broad steps!
Dancers in flowing blue appear at the top of the broad steps!
Graceful dancers descend the high stairs in a grand entrance!
Graceful dancers descend the high stairs in a grand entrance!
The free form dance twirls and floats before the eyes of onlookers.
The free form dance twirls and floats before the eyes of onlookers.
Rhythmic energy fills the unusual stage on a sunny, quite warm day.
Rhythmic energy fills the unusual stage on a sunny, quite warm day.
Dancers perform many athletic, amazing moves.
Dancers perform many athletic, amazing moves.
Beautiful dance delights a host of San Diegans.
Beautiful dance delights a host of San Diegans.
This performance was a carefree, joyful, very cool sight to behold!
This performance was a carefree, joyful, very cool sight to behold!
The dancers return to the stairs for a final few moments.
The dancers return to the stairs for a final few moments.
The dancers retreat to prepare for the next group in a few minutes.
The dancers retreat to prepare for the next group in a few minutes.
This Trolley Dances group heads off to the next surprising location!
This Trolley Dances group heads off to the next surprising location!
The Trolley Dances is a cool, very unique tradition in San Diego!
The Trolley Dances is a cool, very unique tradition in San Diego!

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Philippine Cultural Arts Festival in Balboa Park.

Folk dancers prepare to go on stage at today's cultural exhibition.
Folk dancers prepare to go on stage at today’s cultural exhibition.

I went for a typical weekend walk today. I just headed up to Balboa Park to see what I would see.

And I saw a lot!

My most interesting and enjoyable experience came as I strolled through the 30th Philippine Cultural Arts Festival put on by the Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts and Education Center. The big event was taking place on some grass at the south end of Balboa Park, near Park Boulevard.

Lots of folks were enjoying authentic Filipino food, browsing through many booths, and watching a variety of unique demonstrations and entertainment. Workshops were even available to the public, teaching anyone interested to speak Tagalog, play the Bandurria, Angklung and Kulintang, practice self-defense in the style of Arnis or Eskrima, and dance Tinikling, which is the very colorful national dance of the Philippines.

Here are some pics!

Scott Lost showcases his 2nd Shift comic books and other artwork!
Scott Lost showcases his 2nd Shift comic books and other artwork!

Local artist Scott Lost was showing and selling his work. He has self-published a cool independent comic book series called 2nd Shift. Check it out!

Funny t-shirts celebrate Filipino life at special event in Balboa Park.
Funny t-shirts celebrate Filipino life at special event in Balboa Park.
Guys with swords teach Philippine martial arts!
Guys with swords teach Philippine martial arts!

I wouldn’t mess with these dudes!

Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts and Education Center.
Samahan Filipino American Performing Arts and Education Center.
San Diegans from many different communities enjoyed the festival.
San Diegans from many different communities enjoyed the festival.
Folk dances from the Philippines were part of the cultural exhibition.
Folk dances from the Philippines were part of the cultural exhibition.
The audience enjoyed some colorful and joyful entertainment!
The audience enjoyed some colorful and joyful sights!

The festival is also going on Sunday (tomorrow) from 11-5. You’ll find it by the corner of Park Boulevard and Presidents Way. If you’re in San Diego, check it out!

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Folks enjoy House of Austria lawn program.

Dancers from House of Austria in Balboa Park.
Dancers from House of Austria in Balboa Park.

I got a few pics of another Sunday afternoon lawn program at Balboa Park’s International Cottages. This weekend it was Austria’s turn!

Dancing, singing and food were abundant for the entertainment of anyone interested in Austrian culture.  Many in the crowd wore traditional folk costumes.  There was a beauty queen and opera performances and it all concluded with many participants singing the popular favorite Edelweiss.

Austrian beauty queen smiles for my camera!
Austrian beauty queen smiles for my camera!
Folks watch lawn program of House of Austria.
Folks watch lawn program of House of Austria.
Food tent has sausage and other tasty Austrian food.
Food tent has sausage and other tasty Austrian food.
Everyone applauds a fantastic operatic duet.
Everyone applauds a fantastic operatic duet.

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Native American Pow Wow in Balboa Park!

Mothers in native costume in a large round dance.
Mothers in different native costumes perform a large round dance.

Yesterday my wandering feet led me to a Pow Wow in the south end of Balboa Park. What a colorful, amazing event! The Native American Heritage Pow Wow featured a large grassy stage with a variety of costumed dancers. I lingered for a bit and got a few pics.

Making a dash for Mother's Day goodies on grass.
Making a dash for Mother’s Day goodies scattered on the grass.
Adjusting costumes before performing a dance.
Adjusting colorful costumes before performing a dance.
Native American art at Balboa Park pow-wow.
Native American art for sale at the Balboa Park Pow Wow.
Big crowd at American Indian Heritage Pow Wow.
Big crowd checks out Native American food and culture.
Young dancer at San Diego pow-wow.
Young dancer at San Diego Pow Wow.

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Cinco de Mayo fun in San Diego’s Old Town.

Lots of folks enjoying Cinco de Mayo in Old Town.
Lots of folks enjoying Cinco de Mayo weekend in Old Town.

Late this morning I took a long leisurely walk through San Diego’s Old Town, just to check out this weekend’s Cinco de Mayo festivities. Thousands of people had arrived already, and the crowd was rapidly growing!

People were excited to watch dancers and musicians performing on several stages. They enjoyed gobs of Mexican food, the Cantina Garden, a fun petting zoo, lots of very cool lowriders, and endless booths selling Mexican crafts and wares.

Mariachis play for huge crowd in Old Town's plaza.
Mariachis play for huge crowd in Old Town’s central plaza.
Posing in traditional Mexican garb at Cinco de Mayo.
Posing  for a fun Cinco de Mayo photo.
Colorful Mexican ornaments and gifts seemed to be everywhere.
Colorful Mexican ornaments and gifts seemed to be everywhere.
This barbeque smelled really good to the passing crowd.
This barbeque smelled really good to the passing crowd.
Curled mustache and prickly pear lemonade!
Curled mustache and old-fashioned prickly pear lemonade!
Fiesta de Reyes even more festive for Cinco de Mayo.
Fiesta de Reyes was more festive than usual for Cinco de Mayo.
One Mexican folk dancer watches another on stage.
One Mexican folk dancer watches another perform on stage.
Bright dress worn by lady walking behind Seeley Stable.
Bright yellow festival dress worn by lady walking behind Seeley Stable.
A petting zoo was set up in Old Town for the kids.
A petting zoo was set up in Old Town for the kids.
Dramatic end of long line of hydraulic lowriders.
There were dozens of amazing hydraulic lowriders.

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