carnaval (1).jpg12:21 PM: Thousands lined the streets in San Francisco’s Mission District today for the 33rd annual Carnaval parade and street festival.

More than 300,000 participants were expected to attend the two-day San Francisco Carnaval 2011 “Live Your Fantasy” celebration, presented by San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions. The event began Saturday morning and continued this morning with the grand parade.

The parade, showcasing Latin American and Caribbean cultures, began at Bryant and 24th streets at around 9:30 a.m.

A group from the local Mayan community was prepared for their seventh Carnaval parade with a float, tricycles and decorations.

Since last December, the group has practiced their jarana dance, representing traditional celebrations of their Mayan people, group organizer Alberto Perez said.

Further down the parade route, 60 dancers paired off for a Cuban-style salsa circle dance with the group Rueda con Ritmos. For the past three months dancers from the Santa Cruz and San Francisco areas have been practicing for today, dancer Cesario Ruiz, 33, of Santa Cruz, said.

Parade-watchers, like San Francisco resident Liz Ramos, 53, came armed for the festivities with chairs, food, whistles and dancing shoes.

“Everything is my favorite,” Ramos said about her 15th Carnaval parade. “The Brazilian dancers, the music, the colors.”

For business, Usulatan restaurant staff on 24th Street knows the parade brings crowds.
“After 10 a.m. it gets crazy,” Lizzeth Nunez, whose sister-in-law owns Usulatan, said while setting up a table outside the restaurant with papusas and tamales.

First-time attendees Emily, 30, and Steve Cramer, 32, from Kansas City, Mo., said they had never been to San Francisco.

“There’s excitement here in the city,” Steve said about his first Carnaval experience.

9:04 AM: Crowds are pouring into the Mission District this morning in anticipation of San Francisco’s annual Carnaval Grand Parade.

San Francisco Carnaval 2011 “Live Your Fantasy” two-day celebration, presented by San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions, began Saturday morning and continues with the parade today at 9:30 a.m., according to organizers.

The 33rd annual parade, showcasing Latin American and Caribbean cultures, begins at Bryant and 24th streets and continues north down Mission Street to 17th Street, organizers said.

This year’s parade grand marshal is Dr. Ana Maria Polo, author and star of the Spanish television program, “Caso Cerrado.” The San Francisco Giants 2010 World Series trophy will also make an appearance during the parade.

The parade is part of the Carnaval celebration, which includes a wide array of food, music, drumming, dancing, live music and art.

Sasha Lekach, Bay City News

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