Kaleidoscope Festival Shows the Many Colors of County’s Cultures

Times Staff Writer

Toby Adachi sat before three yellow wading pools at the edge of a business plaza trying to teach two his high school classmates origami, the Japanese art of paper folding.

In a few minutes, Toby, 15, of Rancho Santa Margarita had folded a square of red paper into a graceful crane. About halfway through the process, though, 14-year-old Willy Gonzalez stopped twisting his paper, conceding, “I lost him.” The paper-folding struggle was forgotten when the Santa Margarita High School students later drew a crowd to their wading pools to participate in the traditional Japanese game of trying to catch a goldfish in a net made of rice paper.

The folding and fish-catching were among the approximately 50 exhibits, events and food stands set up at Park Place in Irvine this weekend for Kaleidoscope, a festival celebrating many cultures that is one of the closing events in Orange County’s centennial observance.

“There are lots of people but not much money,” lamented Toby, who was charging 25 cents a player for the goldfish game. “I’ve got to pay my mom back for some of this stuff.”


Several thousand people attended the festival Saturday, sampling the offerings of ethnic food and taking in entertainment ranging from a snake charmer to a bagpipe band.

‘Lovely Idea’

“I think it’s a lovely idea,” said Nan Wagner of Westminster. “It really brings home that Orange County has such a wide variety of people living here.”

The smell of Korean food barbecuing mixed with the aromas of English sausages and Greek gyro sandwiches. Food from 15 countries was available, some of it presented by servers in traditional Indian saris , Japanese kimonos and other traditional costumes .


The entertainment included Armenian, Polynesian, Indian, Scottish and Vietnamese dances as well as some more unusual offerings. The Black Council of the Orange County Historical and Cultural Foundation, for example, sponsored the Carter G. Woodson African-American Living History Museum, a presentation that featured actors portraying Malcolm X, Sojourner Truth and others in speeches and songs.

The only complaint was about the weather. The heat was beating down on the concrete-and-glass plaza.

“The heat out there is terrible,” said Vivian Claypoole of Tustin. “When I saw how hot it was, I headed back for my car and got an umbrella.”

The shady corner of the plaza where India was represented was a popular spot. On a small stage there, a snake charmer coaxed a cobra from a shallow basket. A mock Indian wedding was also performed there, complete with incense and a tiny fire.


At one booth, several Indian women painted intricate tattoos on the hands of female visitors, a tradition for commemorating special occasions. The paint was made of henna and would wear off in about a week.

“I’ve always wanted to get a tattoo, but I never had the nerve,” said Carole Linsk of Mission Viejo as a design was painted on her left hand. “I’m enjoying myself thoroughly.”

Kaleidoscope continues today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Park Place, Michaelson Drive and Jamboree Road in Irvine.