Poofs of colors flew high in the air with a cool breeze and snow-covered mountains in the distance as students, families and community members united for the South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF)’s fourth-annual Color Festival Saturday, March 16, at the South Pasadena Unified School District parking lot on El Centro Street to celebrate the coming of spring and thank the community for their support over the last year.
“We got blessed with this most perfect weather ever,” said Cheryl Simmons, co-chair of the event.
Simmons said 1,500 people attended the event last year, raising approximately $10,000, and Saturday’s event felt like a similar number. With 60-70 volunteers from South Pasadena High School, California State University, Los Angeles (Cal State LA), SPEF and around the region helping out on the big slide, bouncy house and other activities, she said the event went off without a hitch.
“Everything’s gone super smooth and it’s good,” said Simmons. “We basically staffed more volunteers than we need and that keeps things running really smooth.”
The Color Festival is inspired by the Indian Holi Festival which is a celebration of spring where the entire community participates by adorning each other with colored powder. For SPEF’s Color Festival, brightly colored, non-toxic cornstarch was used as color so that both young and old alike could partake in the merriment.
Glendale residents Zoey Su and Lula Seifert, both third-graders at Odyssey Charter School, came decked out in face bandanas, sport glasses and were armed with condiment bottles filled with color. Covered head-to-toe in a multitude of color from their fun-spirited battles, they unanimously agreed that the Color Festival was “awesome.”
“I don’t think I’ve ever been to something like this before,” said Zoey. “It’s fun because you get to get dirty, and there are no parents shouting, ‘go get clean!’”
“I like spraying people and getting sprayed,” Lula added. “It’s like a chalk fight!”
South Pasadena parents Rob Bonz and Mariela King were no strangers to the Color Festival and enjoyed seeking temporary refuge from the celebrations in the Parent’s Lounge, new to the event this year.
“It’s a tradition at this point,” said Bonz. “I’m very happy to have the adult tent this year.”
“I’m so happy with the shade,” King shared.
Bonz watched as his two children Monty Bonz, a third-grader at Arroyo Vista Elementary School, and Lucy Bonz, a second-grader at the same school, joined King’s daughter Amaya King, a second-grader at Marengo Elementary School, on the giant slide and ran from activity to activity. The water dunking station was an added bonus with all the celebratory activity that made for a fairly warm day.
“The water thing was amazing,” said Bonz. “I came out of it so drenched and so hot, they really loved that. They were walking like swamp monsters. They ended up getting dunked in the color thing and they really loved that.”
Cal State LA senior Anthony Ramirez took tickets at the human whack-a-mole which featured an inflatable grid where a child was armed in the middle with a soft air mallet to bop other willing children wearing helmets on their heads. His first time at the Color Festival, he said he wanted to come out to volunteer when he heard about SPEF’s mission in supporting students’ education.
“It’s really super fun,” said Ramirez. “All the kids are like really friendly and nice. They seem to be having a lot of fun.”
He noted that the giant slide was also a huge hit with the children this year.
“When the kids come down, they just have this giant grin,” said Ramirez.
Reflecting on the Color Festival as a whole, Simmons said it served as a way for SPEF to give back to the students and everyone else in gratitude for their support.
“It is a fundraiser but it’s also a give back to the community for supporting us all year long,” said Simmons. “As much as SPEF is trying to help the schools, we appreciate the community. That’s the big thing. It’s a celebration for all ages.”