For 31 years the Lotus Festival in Echo Park was one of the highlights of summer. Founded by an Asian community group, the festival took place at Echo Park Lake with its abundance of lotus flowers in bloom, providing two days of fun in the park, with dragon boat races, music, food stalls and entertainment to visitors of all ages, genders and nationalities.
The lotus beds died first. By 2004 they started to look severely damaged, by 2007 only a few plants were left, which did not bloom in time for the festival. Speculations were rife – bad water quality, overall pollution, chemicals, theft, an unknown pest, but no real reason for the death of the lotus beds was named. In 2008 all that was left were a few dead plants, a sad sight for those attending the festival which still took place.
This year marks the death of the Lotus Festival. It was canceled. No lotus, no festival, right? Part of the reason was also that the original organizers could not get the funds together for a festival at the former scale. R.I.P. Lotus Festival.
The neighborhood Chamber of Commerce tried to put together a similar event, no longer called the “Lotus,” but the “Midsummer Festival,” which took place on June 11th. Few visitors came; no wonder – without the lotus flowers and the dragon boat races the main attractions were gone.
Echo Park Lake is still a small oasis in the middle of a bustling and sometimes rather rough neighborhood. The City of Los Angeles is planning to refurbish the park next year. A replanting of a lotus bed is being discussed. All these plans are laudable, but I personally doubt that they will be put into effect; money is tight and other projects might have to come first.
I am afraid that the lotus blooms and the Lotus Festival will fall into the category of things to be remembered fondly and with quite a lot of sadness as something which was beautiful and is now gone.