*Los Angeles – Baby, it is cold outside!

This was the order of the day for the 14th Annual Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Block Parade held on Saturday, December 26, 2015.

Women were regally dressed in African attire, and the men represented as well. Everyone was bundled up due to the cold weather.

However, the show must go on.

People from the local community and beyond answered the call to come out to celebrate Kwanzaa. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, “It’s Kwanzaa Time! In Leimert Park Village- seven days, December 26th thru January 1, the hearth and cultural hub of the African American community. Families, friends, neighbors and visitors attended the 14th Annual Kwanzaa Heritage Festival and Block Parade on Saturday, December 26, from 10:00-6PM on Degnan Blvd.

Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Block Parade signage: Photo by Ricky Richardson

Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Block Parade signage: Photo by Ricky Richardson

I arrived to the festival in the afternoon; the program was in full swing, with vocalist/spoken word artist Oracle thrilling the audience with her vocal stylings and wisdom. This was followed by two dynamic conscious raising spoken word artists to enlighten the crowd.

The flow of the festival was very fluid, not much downtime. Vocalist Cherokee is an amazing talented singer who dazzle the crowd during her brief three song set of cover tunes.

Cherokee: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Cherokee: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The Ujahzie Dance Ensemble was another highlight of the day. The Leimert Park Healers Drum Ensemble provided the soundtrack of West African drumming to the delight of the audience who were propelled to dance to the contagious rhythms.

Ujahzie Dance Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Rihcardson

Ujahzie Dance Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Ujahzie Dance Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Ujahzie Dance Ensemble: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Several local designers (Queen Aminah, Foo Foo Fashions, and Karimu-just to name a few) showcased their creative talents during the fashion show. Models elegantly strolled around the perimeter of the dance floor during the colorful segment of the program.

Fashion Show: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Fashion Show: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Fashion Show: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Fashion Show: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Models: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Models: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Vocalist Ali Baba made a return engagement to the Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Block Parade for an exciting set of original tunes. This concluded my enjoyment of the festival. The festival concluded on a rousing note with some high energy World beats and infectious reggae grooves courtesy of Wadada.

Ali Baba: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

Ali Baba: Photo Credit, Ricky Richardson

The Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Block Parade celebration featured a noon time candle lightening ceremony, community dancing, authentic arts and crafts, continuous drum circle, delicious ethnic foods, and a special children’s village.

The 14th Annual Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Block Parade was sponsored by Herb J. Wesson, Los Angeles City Council President, District 10, DCA-Department of Cultural Affairs, Los Angeles Sentinel, Brotherhood Crusade, Harambee Mfg., Karimu and KPFK 90.7FM (Media Sponsor).

The Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation was founded by Ngoma Ali and Karimu Ali. The increased popularity of the Kwanzaa Heritage Festival and Block Parade is a testament to the vision and hard work of the Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation. The Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation is made up of community leaders, fine and performing artists, community business-owners, festival promoters, and original celebrants of Kwanzaa.

Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation Mission Statement: Our purpose at the Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation is to develop and maintain activities in the cultural epicenter and birthplace of Kwanzaa-Los Angeles. The Kwanzaa Heritage Foundation was created in February 2002 amidst an outcry from the community for a dignified festival and parade to honor our ancestors, family and community.

Our goal is to advance the image and understanding of Kwanzaa through educational functions, parades, and festivals that will expose our communities’ talents through the visual and performing arts.

I’m hoping that you will incorporate Kwanzaa celebration in your New Year’s resolutions. You will enjoy a unique African American cultural celebration that is great fun for the entire family. Plan now to be part of this warm and enjoyable cultural celebration in 2016. This will be milestone year-15th Annual Kwanzaa Heritage Festival & Block Parade.

Ricky Richardson is a Southern California based music reviewer, writer and photographer. Contact him via: [email protected]ro.net