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Posted at 12:50 PM ET, 10/05/2011

Too big for Mount Pleasant, Fiesta D.C. eyes Columbia Heights

Fiesta D.C., the popular fall festival that promotes the Hispanic culture and community, may have outgrown Mount Pleasant and could be moving to 14th Street.


Fiesta D.C. (Washington Post File/Jahi Chikwendiu )

Maria Patricia Corrales, the president of Fiesta D.Ciest., was making the rounds at the John A. Wilson Building Wednesday to try to get council support to have the festival stretch from Columbia Heights north to Petworth on 14th Street NW.

In an interview, Corrales said event organizers have determined they need more space for the festival, which this year featured a parade, five stages and dozens of vendors.

“Mount Pleasant is too small,” Corrales said.

Currently, Corrales is envisioning a festival that starts near 14th and Meridan Pl. NW, near the fire station, and continues north toward Petworth.

Although Mount Pleasant has historically been the center of the District’s Latino community, the city’s growing Hispanic population has dispersed east over the past decade to include much of Columbia Heights and Petworth.

At this year’s event, held Sept. 25, police reported few problems from what many described as an overwhelmingly large crowd.

But Terry Lynch, the head of the Downtown Cluster of Congregations, said the event should no longer be held in his neighborhood. Lynch, a 30-year resident of Mount Pleasant, sent an e-mail to Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) the night of the festival complaining that some participants were intoxicated and urinating in public.

“Please do not let these organizers and this event into Mt. Pleasant again,” Lynch wrote.. “They made my experience as a longtime resident and homeowner very unpleasant.”

Council member Jim Graham (D-Ward 1), who represents the area, brushed off what he called the “negative reactions” to the event.

“We just have to deal with that,” Graham said.

Graham said he doesn’t agree with Corrales’ plan to move the festival to 14th Street. He said such a move came up two years ago, but it was quickly shot down by the Fire Department. With a station near 14th and Meridan streets, Graham said firefighters need to be able to get quickly in and out of the area.

Instead, Graham suggested that parade be split off from the annual festival so it is held on 16th Street NW while the festival remains in Mount Pleasant.

“There would be less people congregating in Mount Pleasant,” Graham said.

By  |  12:50 PM ET, 10/05/2011

 
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