This year's Carnaval in the Mission, which is traditionally a weekend-long, multicultural festival over Memorial Day weekend with a parade, street vendors, and thousands of dancers from different ethnic traditions, was moved to Labor Day weekend. And it's not going to look much like itself this year.
This year's event theme, which was chosen pre-pandemic but has clearly taken on new meaning, is "Salud es Poder / Health is Wealth." And instead of having the traditional street festival that has lit up the Mission neighborhood for 41 years, organizers have pivoted to a more somber affair — though small dance troupes (slash samba schools) are scheduled to make some surprise appearances.
Given that the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the Latinx community and the Mission neighborhood particularly hard, Carnaval organizers say that they want to offer health screenings to members of the community who might not otherwise have a day off to seek medical attention. There will also be housing referrals and education resources on offer, and free bags of groceries will be handed out via the Mission Food Hub. And they've invited employers to participate in a job fair to help those out of work who had been employed by the hotel or hospitality industries.
As Mission Local reports, the event will take place Saturday, September 5 and Sunday, September 6 at John O’Connell High School, and on Harrison Street between 18th and 20th, between noon and 5 p.m.
There will also be a limited number of vendors selling crafts and such — some of home took up craft work after losing their jobs earlier this year.
“The [Carnaval] Board of Directors and production team agreed that we need to recover and heal from this crisis,” says veteran Carnaval organizer Roberto Hernández, speaking to Mission Local. "The stress and anxiety level is at an all-time high."
Volunteers will reportedly be enforcing social distancing and keeping people from congregating in large groups, and there will be separate zones for each activity with their own capacity limits and special entrances and exits. COVID testing, for instance — 1,000 free tests will be administered on each of the two days — will happen in segregated booths on the high school soccer field, and the job fair will be in the adjacent parking lot. (See map below.)
Top Photo: Erik Wilson