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Huntington Beach Hosts CommUNITY Pop-Up Picnic to Celebrate Diversity

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The CommUNITY Pop-Up Picnic was held to celebrate diversity in Huntington Beach’s Central Park on Sunday, April 18. 

The event was hosted by Councilwoman Natalie Moser in response to a white nationalist rally held at Huntington Beach Pier the previous week. 

According to Moser, the picnic was “an opportunity to join together and see our common humanity, while also celebrating the beauty of our differences.” 

The event included live performances from poets, musicians, artists and dancers, and speakers including U.S. Congresswoman Michelle Steel, California state Sen. Dave Min, Assemblywoman Cottie Petrie-Norris and Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley. There were also food trucks serving a variety of cultural cuisines, booths for local non-profits and family activities such as rock painting, crafts and an art wall. 

Attendees were asked to bring their own picnic blankets and chairs, wear facemasks and socially distance. 

Southern California Tribal Chairmen’s Association Education Coordinator Lorena M. Ortega spoke about her own personal encounters with racism in Huntington Beach at the picnic. 

Former Huntington Beach mayors Shirley Dettloff and Ralph Bauer, who put together a city proclamation addressing racism back in 1996, spoke about the public displays of racism in Huntington Beach that have occurred in recent weeks. 

The picnic was attended by activist groups such as the women’s rights group HB Huddle, and local politicians including city council members Barbara Delgleize and Mike Posey and Huntington Beach Mayor Kim Carr. 

“We have over 4 million visitors that come to Huntington Beach each year. We’re a welcoming community. We’re Surf City. We love having people come to our home,” Carr said in an interview with CBSLA. “I just feel, based on the negative coverage that our city has been receiving, it’s really not indicative of the people who live here.”

Native American dance group Redboy Productions of Orange County performed at the event along with other groups, including the Polynesian dancers of Tupua Productions of Santa Ana and Mariachis with the Rhythmo Academy of Anaheim. There were also individual performances from dancer Teramura Ki and Huntington Beach high school freshman and poet Layla Hanna, who recited a poem about compassion. 

The gathering was an opportunity “to create new bonds and memories and build a brighter future for Huntington Beach,” Moser said

Eva Cluff is a Staff Writer for the spring 2021 quarter. She can be reached at ecluff@uci.edu.