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Glendale’s 15th annual Cesar Chavez celebration draws hundreds

Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca performs

Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca of Burbank performs during the city of Glendale’s 15th annual Cesar Chavez celebration, held at the Pacific Community Center on Saturday, March 26, 2016.

(Photo by Mike Mullen)

When Glendale resident Leticia Navares thinks about Cesar Chavez, she imagines a world full of people standing up for the rights of others.

“We should have people thinking like him all the time, everywhere,” she said Saturday during the city of Glendale’s 15th annual Cesar Chavez celebration. “I wish I could do the same (thing) as him.”

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About 500 people were at the Pacific Community Center, attending the festivities, which featured live music, children’s games and free Mexican food.

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Dan Bell, the city’s community relations coordinator, said the event’s purpose is to focus on Chavez’s life and legacy while also bringing together the many cultures that call Glendale home.

Mariachi Las Colibri

Mariachi Las Colibri performs during Glendale’s 15th annual Cesar Chavez celebration, held at the Pacific Community Center on Saturday, March 26, 2016.

(Photo by Mike Mullen)

“The city of Glendale … is a very diverse city, so we like to highlight as many different cultures in our city as we can,” he said.

Latino culture was front and center, thanks to a few groups who performed on stage in the gymnasium at adjacent Thomas Edison Elementary School. Attendees saw dances performed by the Flamenco Ole Ballet and Folklorico Mexico Azteca and heard music by the women of Mariachi Las Colibri.

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“The fact that our event has been going for 15 years is the reason we can attract such talent to our program,” Bell said.

Kids with Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca of Burbank

Young dancers with Ballet Folklorico Mexico Azteca of Burbank perform during Glendale’s 15th annual Cesar Chavez celebration at the Pacific Community Center on Saturday, March 26, 2016.

(Photo by Mike Mullen)

Booths were set up to highlight city services such as the libraries, parks department and the arts commission. Glendale firefighters were on hand to show off a fire truck to the kids, and Univision conducted a raffle, with one prize being Disneyland tickets.

Alex Garcia grew up in Glendale and decided to bring his family to the park, not knowing about the celebration and activities in store for his three children.

“It’s really cool,” he said. “The kids are having fun.”

The main draw for the youngsters was a rock wall set up outside on the basketball court.

As Glendale resident Rezede Vafina watched her 6-year-old son, Razmik Atabekyan, scale the wall and hit the buzzer at the top, she described the day as “perfect.”

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“We’re doing it twice already,” she said, referring to her son’s turns on the wall. “It’s very fun.”

Razmik made his way down, only to ask his mom permission to make a third ascent, which was granted.

Bell said he was happy with the turnout and the performers, as well as the feedback he gets from residents.

“The two words I hear are ‘thank you,’” he said.

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Ryan Fonseca, ryan.fonseca@latimes.com

Twitter: @RyFons

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