Fiesta D.C. moving to Pennsylvania Avenue

Fiesta D.C. will be held this year on Pennsylvania Avenue after city leaders and event organizers agreed that the event has grown so large it can no longer be held in Mount Pleasant.

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1) said event organizers agreed to relocate the Sept. 23 Hispanic heritage festival downtown after weeks of “meetings and discussions” that ultimately failed to come up with another suitable location for the event.

“It was a difficult decision, but the festival has become so popular and with so many thousands of people that the neighborhood location just wasn’t going to work in Mount Pleasant,” Graham said. “You hate to lose a community event, but it was so cramped on Mount Pleasant Street, there were real issues of public safety as well as other issues.”

After hundreds of thousands surged into Mount Pleasant for last year’s festival, some organizers suggested that it be moved to a more spacious location, perhaps 14th Street in Columbia Heights or Petworth. But District public safety officials passed on the idea in June, saying they could not guarantee public safety in surrounding neighborhoods if busy 14th street was closed.

Graham and some activists were initially unnerved that Mayor Vincent C. Gray’s administration was trying to move the festival out of the historical center of the city’s Hispanic community. But Graham said organizers and city leaders were unable to agree on an acceptable alternative.

“This is a decision of the community, and I’m going to respect that,” Graham said.

The address change marks the second big shake-up of the District’s annual festival calendar.

After the financially troubled Caribbean Festival failed to settle its $210,000 debt with the city this year, the administration withheld support for it returning to Georgia Avenue NW. Tired of negotiating with the District, event organizers held this year’s Caribbean Festival last weekend in Baltimore.

Tim Craig is The Post’s bureau chief in Pakistan. He has also covered conflicts in Iraq, Afghanistan and within the District of Columbia government.

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