Lowriders rev up for La Raza Park Day party and cruise

(Photo and story by Ivonne Olivas)

The 5th annual La Raza Park Day event will take place this Sunday. Seen as a hub for the Mexican and Chicano communities, the park is a valuable place for many. KGNU’s Ivonne Olivas has the story.

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JOLT: “I grew up in that park. I spent everyday of my life at that park.”

For Jolt, founder of Guerilla Garden, artistic curator and public artist, La Raza Park is more than just a park. It holds valuable memories of friends, family and celebrations of culture.

JOLT: “I was there for some of the riots and things that took place with the Chicano movement and police violence…I have the temple tattooed on my body. I’m a big part of that park and it’s a big part of me.”

Jolt is one of the organizers of La Raza Park Day Event, hosted by Warm Cookies of the Revolution. It will be held on Sunday, August 27th and will feature live music, food and dance, celebrating Mexican and Chicano culture. Although a celebration, the event began with other intentions.

JOLT: “It initially started as a statement we wanted to make against the way the policing was going on and that turned into something much bigger. The idea was to create a cruise because police were messing with all the cruisers so I thought…instead of the police following behind us, they would be our escort.”

The main event of La Raza Day and one that attracts the masses is the lowriding cruise through the community. Lowriding gained popularity during the Chicano movement in the 60s and 70s. Jolt said it’s become a vital part of Mexican and Chicano culture ever since.

JOLT: “I think the history of it is something that’s been celebrated…it’s a representation of the art. The lowrider is a piece of American, usually a Chevy or Impala. When you think about somebody coming from another place, taking this piece of Americana and making it their own. Owning these public spaces is important and the lowrider vehicle allows us to do so.”

Gentrification has been a common theme in conversations around Denver neighborhoods. Prior to 2020, La Raza Park was named Columbus Park. The name change occurred after decades of civic engagement and political fights. It also received designation as a historical cultural district but Jolt says the effects of these changes are yet to be seen.

JOLT: “The name change started in 1961… a lot of battles because they see Columbus as being a hero, it’s superficial in a way. It’s just a name. We’ll take that little win. And if we do say it’s historic, is that going to affect what we can do adding to the park later?…I see it as a positive thing.”

Jolt says he hopes people leave the event this Sunday with a sense of community, pride and empowerment, but most of all, a smile on their face.

Community will gather at La Raza Park in Denver on Sunday, August 27th for the 5th annual event.

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