The warm sun beamed down on parents and staff at Kawana Elementary School on Saturday as a community came together to build something positive out of a tragedy.
“It was an idea to give the streets back to the community,” counselor Daniel Gillen said.
He came up with the idea of a street festival on school grounds a few months after Juan Carlos Angel-Esparza, 20, was fatally stabbed in an alleged gang fight. Gillen said the death was a catalyst for parents to come together.
Toddlers with painted faces blew bubbles and slid with glee down an inflatable slide.
Roberta Cardwell, president of the Parent Teachers Association, was in charge of a bicycle with an attached blender that churned out smoothies as the kids pedaled its wheels.
“We're not going to allow anything like the tragedy that happened to overtake our pride and confidence in our school and community,” Cardwell said. “We wanted to make a big statement to say, we're still here, we're still strong.”
Another parent, Cyndi Belmontes, took the lead in coordinating and said more than 50 local companies and organizations donated money or time to the event.
Principal Jesse Escobedo chatted with parents and helped clean up as the party rolled on.
“We love our kids, we love the community, and we want to show the kids there are more ways to have fun than being seduced by the gang mystique,” Escobedo said.