Photo by: Amie Valle
Maybe some of you wonder how San Francisco ended up having a carnaval? Well, the story is about a girl with a dream. Here is how it happened: On a chilly and rainy Sunday, February 25th, 1979, the winds of change swept through San Francisco’s Mission District, carrying with them the vibrant colors and infectious rhythms of a long-awaited celebration. Three hundred drummers and dancers adorned in a kaleidoscope of costumes paraded around Precita Park, marking the birth of a tradition that would forever change the city’s cultural landscape. While some passersby may have dismissed it as a whimsical, “hippie” gathering, for Adela Chu and her fellow revelers, it was the realization of a dream—an enchanting dream that had its roots in Adela’s childhood in the city of Colón, Panama.
Adela’s carnaval dream was born at the tender age of three. As her mother meticulously sewed vibrant costumes for the annual carnaval festivities, Adela longed to be a part of the spectacle. With wide-eyed wonder, she gazed at the adorable pink tutus adorned with oversized red valentines. However, she was deemed too young to join the revelry, igniting a spark within her that would burn brightly for years to come. From that moment on, Adela carried her carnaval dream wherever her life journey led her, ultimately finding a new home in San Francisco.
Immersed in the vibrant cultural talents of the city, Adela discovered her passion for samba, the infectious rhythm that pulsated through her veins. She became a samba instructor, sharing her love for the dance form and using it as a vessel to keep her carnaval dream alive. Through her interactions with fellow dancers, drummers, and artists, after going to Rio De Janeiro to see a friend of hers for the Brazilian carnaval, Adela recognized the untapped potential of San Francisco—a city brimming with diverse communities, each with their unique cultural traditions.
Photo from @carnavalsf instagram
Adela’s vision took root as she meticulously planned and rehearsed, fueled by the conviction that San Francisco could be the perfect stage for a grand carnaval tradition. The Mission District, with its rich history of welcoming immigrant communities from Latin America and the Caribbean, seemed like the ideal starting point. The district’s variety of cultures and the spirit of its inhabitants resonated deeply with Adela’s aspirations.
On that fateful day in 1979, Adela’s dream blossomed into reality. A sea of costumes, each a vibrant brushstroke painting the streets with life, weaved its way through the Mission District. San Francisco’s first official Carnaval Parade and Festival took flight, showcasing the rich cultural heritage of Latin American and Caribbean communities. What began as a modest gathering grew into a resplendent celebration of diversity, uniting people from all walks of life.
Photo by Ryan-Wallace
Today, San Francisco Carnaval has become an iconic event, a testament to Adela Chu’s unwavering determination and the collective effort of countless individuals who share her passion. The streets come alive each year, vibrant and pulsating with the spirit of carnaval. Elaborate floats glide alongside dancers swaying to infectious rhythms, while intricately adorned masks and costumes reflect the rich tapestry of cultures that call San Francisco home.
Adela Chu’s carnaval dream continues to inspire generations, transcending boundaries and fostering unity. It stands as a testament to the power of one person’s unwavering vision, fueled by a childhood longing and nurtured by a deep love for the art of samba. San Francisco’s Carnaval Parade and Festival will forever bear the imprint of Adela’s dream, reminding us all that with determination, passion, and a touch of magic, dreams can come alive, transforming cities into vibrant pallets of culture, color, and celebration. In the photo below you can see Adela Chu in her silver headdress in 1979.
Read the full story directly from our source Found SF.