Six years ago, nightclub owner Edison Garcia held a three-day fiesta celebrating Central American Independence. In 2012, owners of another club went head-to-head, or block-to-block, with their own fiesta across the street. This year, besides holding their third fiesta on the same weekend as Garcia's sixth, the Maree Group/Voluntad wants to add a parade from Rock Avenue along Front Street to Roosevelt Avenue on Sunday, Sept. 14.
Garcia, owner of Los Faraones at 111 Front Street, began holding fiestas in the two city-owned parking lots behind his building to mark both Independence Day in July as well as Central American Independence Day . The Maree Group, affiliated with Chez Maree on Watchung Avenue, began holding its festivals in the city parking lot between Watchung and Roosevelt avenues.
The dual events draw thousands of Latinos and others to the city for the weekend. Resolutions permitting this year's fiestas are up for City Council approval Monday at the regular meeting, 8 p.m. in Municipal Court.
Garcia is seeking approval for the July 4 through 6 fiesta from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. on all days. He wants to hold his Central American Independence event on Sept. 12, 13 and 14 from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Music is to stop at 10 p.m. in July and 9 p.m. in September, according to the resolutions.
The Maree Group/Voluntad productions wants to hold the September fiesta from 5 to 11 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 12; from 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 13; and from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Sunday, Sept. 14. The parade is supposed to start at 11 a.m. and arrive at the fiesta at 1 p.m.
Formerly events received public safety clearance after council approval, but in an innovation this year, organizers had to be cleared by the Police Division first. Each event received a condition that six police officers be hired. The parade was not included in a draft resolution reviewed by the council at its May 5 agenda-fixing session. It is unclear whether further public safety arrangements, such as police approval of the route and traffic coverage must be obtained, nor is the exact nature of the parade spelled out, i.e., will it include bands, floats, vendors and such.
The May 12 agenda is relatively light, with many items listed to be approved in a single consent vote. Perhaps that will provide time for the council and public to hear more about the fiesta details before the votes on those resolutions.