Organizer of mariachi-themed fun run denied permit, blames politics

Organizer of mariachi-themed fun run denied permit, blames politics
Carlos Gaspar, shown in front of a mariachi mural near Mariachi Plaza, has been denied a permit for a mariachi-themed 5-kilometer fun run in Boyle Heights. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

The organizer of a mariachi-themed fun run said local politics forced him to indefinitely postpone the event.

The 5-kilometer run, originally scheduled for Sunday in Boyle Heights, was supposed to start and finish at the historic Mariachi Plaza, with mariachis playing along the way.


But on Monday, amid dissent by a local mariachi leader and the office of City Councilman Jose Huizar, Los Angeles officials informed the organizer, Carlos Gaspar, that the city was denying him permission.

Gaspar said his plans were originally met with enthusiam in the neighborhood, as he collected about 100 signatures from business owners and residents along the route as part of his application for an event permit.

He canceled plans for a beer garden and a costume contest after concerns were raised.

In an email, a city official told Gaspar that his application was denied because he had failed to contact the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.

But Gaspar said he was never instructed to do so.

Gaspar, who is from Jalisco, Mexico, and now lives in Downey, said he was resented as an outsider by the political powers in Boyle Heights.

"I did get a lot of support from people in Boyle Heights," he said. "It's the powers didn't like it."

Arturo Ramirez, the mariachi leader, told the Los Angeles Times last week that the event would insult his profession if runners dressed up in mariachi costumes. He also said he was concerned that Gaspar had hired outside mariachis rather than musicians from the plaza.

As for the 277 runners who had each paid up to $50 to enter the event, Gaspar said they would have their choice of receiving a refund or waiting for him to find a new location and date for the run.

"It's going to happen," he said. "Just not in Boyle Heights."

On Oct. 11, for the Boyle Heights 5K Run/Walk will be held on the same course.

The organizer of that event, Juan Romero, a Boyle Heights native who own a coffee shop there, said the run/walk was being held in conjunction with a local health fair and that it had the backing of Huizar.