Councilman Kevin de León at Sixth Street Viaduct opening. Photo by Antonio Mejías-Rentaspress preview of Sixth Street Viaduct opening. Photo by Antonio Mejías-Rentas

Being a resident of Estrada Courts in Boyle Heights for about two years now, I have never seen Las Posadas or even heard of them. When I heard from one of my editors that we were going to cover one, I immediately jumped on it because I was curious. My team and I joined residents of the Wyvernwood Garden Apartments for a Posada organized by resident group El Comité de La Esperanza. That night, I discovered a beautiful tradition that had literally passed by my front door.

Las Posadas at Wyvernwood

Just after 7 p.m. last Wednesday, Leonardo Lopez walked out of his house with loudspeaker in hand, alerting his neighbors in Wyvernwood that Las Posadas were about to begin.

Soon, the crowd began to gather. Children laughing as they lit sparklers; elderly men and women praying with their rosaries; and teenagers with their significant others all made up the group that would partake in the celebration.

We spent the next hour walking to participating homes with candles lit, reciting prayers and singing songs before arriving at the night’s culmination of sweet bread, hot drinks and a piñata.

What is a Posada?
Las Posadas, Spanish for inn or lodge, is a reenactment of the biblical account of Jesus Christ’s birth. The story tells of how Mary and Joseph walked from house to house looking for a place to stay in Bethlehem until they arrive at a farm where they took refuge the same night Jesus was born. For hundreds of years, people have paid tribute to these events by organizing a nine-day procession that takes place from December 16 to the 24 and is mostly practiced in Mexico and other parts of Latin America.

Traditions of the Wyvernwood Community Kept Alive

For a large number of Wyvernwood residents, maintaining these and other traditions from their native land is important.

“These nights are something special for us. These are our traditions as Latinos,” said Lopez. “They carry a beautiful sentiment and remind us of our native land.”

Wyvernwood resident Luis Salinas, 25, has been coming to the Posadas since “he could remember.”

“For most of the people here, this type of tradition is something that is meant to be passed down to the community”” to our children. That’s the type of progress that the community here sees,” he said.

But in the midst of celebration, Salinas finds it hard to ignore the redevelopment plans threatening to end Las Posadas ”“ and much more ”“ for the residents of Wyvernwood.“Right now we are struggling with other issues about losing our homes because of demolition,” he said. “These types of events would not happen, will not happen, if that development happens,” he said.

Boyle Heights Beat Youth Reporter Cinthia Gonzales grew up in Wyvernwood and remembers participating in Las Posadas since she was a little girl. “I have been living in Wyvernwood for 13 years, and I first experienced the posadas there,” said Gonzales. “For me, it was a magical moment.”

The “magical” moment Gonzales speaks of is not only centered around a religious event, she says. It also brings neighbors together during the holidays.
“When I’m out there, it feels like I am united with my community. I get to walk around with people and enjoy the small moments.”

Like Salinas, Gonzales also fears that the sense of shared tradition may be lost and that cultural heritage may be buried along with the buildings future redevelopment plans will do away with.

“What I thought during this walk was ‘Will it be the same if the new construction goes underway? Will it be the same Wyvernwood?’” said Gonzales.

*This story was originally posted on December 12, 2011

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