EAST LOS ANGELES (KABC) --Enthusiastic onlookers lined a 1.5- mile stretch of Cesar Chavez Boulevard on Sunday as the 70th annual East Los Angeles Mexican Independence Day Parade took place amid traditional music and dancing.
"It feels great. It feels like we're in Mexico," said L.A. resident Maria Ivara, who wore a sombrero emblazoned with the words "VIVA MEXICO." "We all miss all the celebrations over there."
Horses, parade floats, convertibles and dancers began making their way down the boulevard at about 10 a.m. on a brilliantly sunny morning.
"This is our culture and we're so glad that we can incorporate it here in America," said Jessica Gonzalez, of Long Beach. She wore a red, white and green bow in her hair, matching the colors of the Mexican flag.
The theme of this year's event, which featured the individual states of America's southern neighbor, was "Mexico: magical and mystical."
Among the most popular performers in the parade were a group of masked dancers in mariachi uniforms.
"We take (inspiration) from them and we decorate them with our own style," said one of the troupe members, Vlady Vidals of Orange County.
Singer-actor Fernando Allende served as grand marshal of the parade, which was broadcast on ABC7 and put on by Comite Mexicano Civico Patriotico, an L.A.-based organization founded in 1913.
While some experienced the festivities for the first time, others have been attending the annual event for decades.
"Everybody should know where they came from - their roots," said Eliza Reyes, who is in her 70s and has been attending the parade since she was 12.
"It feels great" to be Mexican-American," Reyes said. "Proud."