Posted on Apr 18, 2013

During the last couple of years, I had the great pleasure of working in Carnaval San Francisco as Entertainment Coordinator by the late SFCAT organization.  I had previously worked in that capacity in 1983 and from 1986 to 1998 for the late MECA organization.   I go back to Carnaval to when I marched in the first Carnaval parade in Precita Park back in 1979.  I was asked by SFCAT to coordinate one of the stages in 2011.  Last year was particularly sweet since I oversaw and ran the entire outdoor Entertainment operation (like the old days) assisted by a great crew of emcees, backstage help, stage veterans and sound pros.  I felt that we did San Francisco proud with a varied, exciting and eclectic show that featured the best in Salsa, Brazilian, Caribbean, Cumbia, African, World, Funk, Hip Hop and Rock in traditional and contemporary forms.  In other words, we presented great music that complimented the other parts of this unique massive event!   The operation ran well despite the obvious challenges, trials and tribulations that come with the territory.  I was looking forward to possibly repeating my role this year but a funny thing happened on the way to the repeat.  SFCAT went kaput!  Apparently the organization was in substantial debt and wasn’t able to fundraise and maintain their infrastructure.  There was talk that the two day festival that framed the spectacular Sunday Carnaval parade was in danger of being cancelled.  SFCAT’s management negotiated with a community based coalition led by my former MECA boss Roberto Hernandez, a master of reinvention and charismatic media manipulator, to take over the festival.  Because of SFCAT’s financial woes, Roberto and the community coalition have taken over the entire Carnaval operation.  Hernandez even came up with a catchy sound bite that I will paraphrase “You don’t cancel Christmas, You don’t cancel Carnaval”.  An emergency community meeting took place where the call was sounded for 500 volunteers to help with the event and to solicit possible sponsors and for money to be donated.  I wasn’t able to make the Brava Theater meeting because I had a DJ gig with Bajofondo at Bimbo’s that evening.  Roberto already had installed his own team of players to run the event.  Due to these developments, I wasn’t asked to be involved in this year’s event.  However, I’m not bitter, I have fond memories of my Carnaval years.  After all, life runs in cycles.  I wish the Mission community a tremendous amount of luck in their noble quest.  It looks like it may be downscaled due to the economics and tight time schedule.  Hopefully they’ll succeed in pulling it off because Carnaval has to survive.  There is no other event that comes close to creating that magic.