It’s been a little over a year since Denver’s Chicano community marked the official renaming of the Sunnyside’s La Raza Park at 1501 W 38th Ave. But celebrating Northside Chicano culture at the park has been a decades-old tradition that will continue this weekend.
The park was once officially named Columbus Park, after Christopher Columbus, in homage to the Northside Italian community. But it has been called La Raza Park for more than five decades by the Chicano community, which rallied to change the park’s name for years.
“La Raza” translates to “the people” or “the race” and was one of the ways the Chicano movement described itself with pride the 1960s and 70s.
At the time, activists were fighting political struggles and artists were using murals to create a sense of permanent cultural identity. Claiming public space was a crucial part of that project.
After years of squables between the Chicano and Italian communities over the prospect of renaming the park, in December 2020, the city adopted La Raza Park as the official name. In June of 2021, the La Raza Park sign was unfurled on the summer solstice.
At that gathering, activist Rudolfo “Corky” Gonzales’s daughter Nita Gonzales told the crowd, “We have to hold cultural and spiritual activities in ceremony in this park, every month, every month of the year, so they don’t forget que somos la raza, and we’re still here.”
One of those gatherings is happening on Sunday, August 21, from 1 to 5 p.m., when the community will unite for an afternoon of festivities at the fourth annual La Raza Park Day.
The event is one of the largest lowrider celebrations in Denver, according to organizers.
Latin Soul Party will be spinning tunes. Both Aztec dancers and break dancers will be showing off their moves, while lucha libre wrestlers will be sparring on the mat.
For more information, go to the event’s Facebook page.