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Point Grey's annual fiesta is a celebration of history and community.

Hola! Point Grey Fiesta celebrates its 30th year

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A unique feature of Vancouver is its several distinct neighbourhoods, knit together by cycling routes and transit. Indeed, transit services were fundamental to the development of many of the retail “villages” that have grown up at key intersections. These include West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano, the three key nodes of Dunbar Village, or Point Grey Village along West 10th Avenue.

The neighbourhoods are each home to annual street festivals that aim to bring the community together each summer. The first is always the Point Grey Fiesta, which West Point Grey Community Centre has organized since 1986 in partnership with local businesses.

Celebrating history

The parade that kicks off fiesta and the midway that runs in Trimble Park from Friday to Sunday are some of the best known parts of the celebration.

The roots of the popular festival are less well known, however.

The event traces its origins to preparations for the city’s centennial in 1986. While the province spearheaded the world’s fair that became known as Expo 86, a centennial committee at city hall offered grants to community groups that would celebrate local history.

Point Grey, a bastion of West Side respectability that was its own municipality from 1908 to 1929, doesn’t seem like the first place to go looking for a taste of Spain or a festival mascot like Olé the Bull. Commercial Drive is where Latino and Hispanic culture thrives in Vancouver.

Spanish roots

But the group that came together in 1986 to celebrate Point Grey’s origins remembered that the neighbourhood sits above the beaches of Spanish Banks. The name reflects the fact that José María Narváez (1768-1840) was, in 1791, the first European to navigate the local waters. This connection spawned a Spanish theme for the festival, or fiesta, and city hall agreed. The committee won a grant to hold a street festival in 1986, an event that has become a highlight of the community’s social year.

Community spirit

This year will be no different. The annual parade takes place Saturday morning at 10am, following a pancake breakfast. Trimble Park will host the midway, with crafts, games, hands-on-pottery demonstrations by artisans from the community centre, and other activities. A petting zoo and roving entertainers will add to the fun.

While many say Vancouver is changing too quickly, that its neighbourhoods are losing their character, the longevity of the Point Grey Fiesta is a sign that not all is lost. The community remains a place where families, and people of all ages, can have fun. Buildings come and buildings go, but it’s the longstanding community events that keep the spirit of a place strong. Fiesta is one such event.

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