Article and photos by Rachel Varla.
On this beautifully sunny July afternoon, I decided to head out to Echo Park Lake for its annual Lotus Festival. Well, mostly annual.
A brief history is that it started in 1972 as a 2 day event with local vendors, entertainers, food and other demonstrations like martial arts and featured dancers. In its heyday it was known to draw over 250,000 visitors.
Well, over the years, pollution and bacteria got the best of Echo Park lake, and the beautiful Lotus flowers, even though they represent purity because they grow from the mud and produce great beauty, couldn’t survive. The lake was closed in 2012 for a 2 year, $45 million renovation. I remember visiting right before the lake was closed and was saddened and disgusted by the amount of trash and filth in the water. I saw turtles wading passed used condoms, rotten corn on the cob and there was a sick, dense film covering the top.
Around that time apparently, a local horticulturalist took some clippings from the lake’s few struggling Lotus bulbs and cultivated them at home. This person’s “thievery” ended up being the savior, allowing the Lotus bed to be brought back to life after the lake was cleaned up. The clippings were brought back and the beds are now alive and thriving.
Today, July 11th 2015 is the second Lotus Festival since the re-opening of the park. I’m so grateful that this beautiful icon was cared about enough by the people and their city, to do something about it. Enjoy.