Dazzling San Francisco Carnaval Parade Wows Thousands in Loving Tribute to Mother Earth

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Carnaval performer Shaunté Jackson, Princess of Samba USA 2015/2016 dances with Ginga Brasil Contingent in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco's Mission District during Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

Article originally published in The Guardsman Newspaper

Story and photographs by Ekevara Kitpowsong

When the BART train stopped at the 24th and Mission station in the early hours of Sunday morning on May 29, hordes of people were already pouring out onto Mission Street—many of them dressed in colorful and flowery costumes.

The crowd instinctively began its pilgrimage down 24th Street to the starting point of the 2016 Carnaval San Francisco Grand Parade. Thousands of people, young and old, annually converge in the heart of the Mission District to witness and celebrate the lively Latin-American and Caribbean tradition.It was the 38th annual parade, part of Carnaval San Francisco, a two-day celebration that is considered one of the largest in the city during the Memorial Day weekend.

The theme of this year’s parade was ¡Viva La Madre Tierra! which means “Long Live Mother Earth.” The parade kicked-off at 24th and Bryant Streets at 9:30 a.m. with a ceremonial blessing by Aztec dancers and then headed west to Mission Street.

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Carnaval performers march in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District during Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

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A Carnaval participant performs on the float during the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

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Carnaval performer in costume marches in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District during Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

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Aztec dancers perform in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District during Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

AJ Stuntz, an eight-year-old stunt rider, led the parade of more than 30 music and dance troupes along with other marchers.  Onlookers cheered the lowrider cars as they performed their usual bouncing antics.

The stunning spectacle of masks, feathers, sequins, paint, and glitter on the dancers and floats brought a burst of color and energy to the streets.

The breathtaking parade wound down to its finale at Mission and 17th Streets around 2 p.m.

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The 8-year-old stunt rider, AJ Stuntz performs tricks and stunts during the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

24th Street, 2016, AJSTUNTZ, Allison, Azteca, Batalá San Francisco, Carnaval, Carnaval San Francisco, CarnavalSF, CarnavalSF2016, Carribean, celebration, COMPARSAS, Dancing, Dancing Feathers, Danza, Ekevara, Ekevara Kitpowsong, Ekey, Festival, grand parade, Kitpowsong, KOFY TV 20, Latin America, Lowrider, May 29, Memorial Day, Mission, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts & Thomas Edison Charter Academy, Mission District, Mission Street, Music, Ohlone Costanoan People, Parade, Photographer, Proyección Folklórica Guatemalteca Xelaju, SambaFunk! Funkquarians, San Francisco, San Francisco Lowrider Council, SF, Street, Sunday, The Aperturist, Travel, ViVA Nicaragua, Weekend, Xiuhcoatl,

A low rider performs a bouncing trick on 24th street during the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade in San Francisco’s Mission District, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

24th Street, 2016, AJSTUNTZ, Allison, Azteca, Batalá San Francisco, Carnaval, Carnaval San Francisco, CarnavalSF, CarnavalSF2016, Carribean, celebration, COMPARSAS, Dancing, Dancing Feathers, Danza, Ekevara, Ekevara Kitpowsong, Ekey, Festival, grand parade, Kitpowsong, KOFY TV 20, Latin America, Lowrider, May 29, Memorial Day, Mission, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts & Thomas Edison Charter Academy, Mission District, Mission Street, Music, Ohlone Costanoan People, Parade, Photographer, Proyección Folklórica Guatemalteca Xelaju, SambaFunk! Funkquarians, San Francisco, San Francisco Lowrider Council, SF, Street, Sunday, The Aperturist, Travel, ViVA Nicaragua, Weekend, Xiuhcoatl,

Carnaval performers dance in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco during Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

An Aztec dancer performs in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District during Memorial Day weekend, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

Carnaval participants perform in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District on Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

Parade participants inside Bay Area Rapid Transit BART Mobile wave and smile to the crowd during the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

24th Street, 2016, AJSTUNTZ, Allison, Azteca, Batalá San Francisco, Carnaval, Carnaval San Francisco, CarnavalSF, CarnavalSF2016, Carribean, celebration, COMPARSAS, Dancing, Dancing Feathers, Danza, Ekevara, Ekevara Kitpowsong, Ekey, Festival, grand parade, Kitpowsong, KOFY TV 20, Latin America, Lowrider, May 29, Memorial Day, Mission, Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts & Thomas Edison Charter Academy, Mission District, Mission Street, Music, Ohlone Costanoan People, Parade, Photographer, Proyección Folklórica Guatemalteca Xelaju, SambaFunk! Funkquarians, San Francisco, San Francisco Lowrider Council, SF, Street, Sunday, The Aperturist, Travel, ViVA Nicaragua, Weekend, Xiuhcoatl,

Carnaval performers dance on the float during the march in the 38th Annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade on 24th Street in San Francisco’s Mission District, Sunday, May 29, 2016. CURRENT SF/Ekevara Kitpowsong

Written by
เอกวรา กิจเภาสงค์ Ekevara Kitpowsong a.k.a. The Aperturist. Award-Winning San Francisco photographer, born in Chicago and raised in Bangkok. The Aperturist documents her experiences and tells stories through photographs.

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