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Celebration at City Hall -- for Nowruz, not budget prospects

March 18, 2011 |  1:57 pm

Spring came early to the Los Angeles City Council. Bouquets of fuchsia and violet flowers filled council chambers on Friday, and council members stood up one by one to call for rebirth, rejuvenation and renewal.

They were not discussing the city's financial prospects. The occasion was Nowruz, the Persian New Year. Each March, the city’s Iranian community marks the holiday with a lavish party at City Hall.

In the grand rotunda outside of council chambers, goldfish glided inside gilded glass urns and tables overflowed with fruit and bite-sized walnut cookies flavored with rose water, cardamom and honey.

Inside chambers, the council presented Iranian leaders with a city proclamation celebrating Nowruz. In a sign of the community's political sway, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa stopped by to pose for photographs and make a speech that praised the educational and professional accomplishments of L.A.'s Iranian immigrants. Councilmember Tony Cardenas said the city of Los Angeles is the largest employer of Iranians outside of Iran. 

Celebrations on Friday were not limited to Nowruz. It was also Latina History Day, as City Council President Eric Garcetti  noted in a presentation, as well as the day the council officially marked St. Patrick’s Day. (Council was in recess on Thursday, the official holiday.)

Councilman Tom LaBonge, cherry-cheeked and smiling, was bustling about, getting speakers ready for the St. Patrick's Day presentation when he bumped into Villaraigosa, who teased him about his lime-green tie.

“That’s yesterday’s tie,” Villaraigosa said after they embraced.

“I’ve been up all night!” LaBonge replied.

He was kidding, he said later, although he did profess to having spent a convivial evening with the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, a fraternal group of Irish Americans.

After the St. Patrick's Day presentation was finished, three bagpipers cleared their throats. They were from the Los Angeles Police Emerald Society, and they wore police badges and green kilts.

They music echoed boisterously through City Hall. They marched to it out the back door of chambers and up a long hallway, followed by a parade of people and another musician beating a tire-sized bass drum.

At the end of the hallway, a collection of elegantly dressed Iranian Americans stopped sipping cappuccinos and nibbling blackberries to take in the scene.

“All right,” called Terry Anderson, putting a stop to the music. Anderson, the head of the Irish Fair Foundation, said it was time for the crew to go celebrate with some corned beef and hash at McCormick and Schmick's, a restaurant downtown.

Besides, he said, “if we go any farther, we’re going to run into the Persian New Year.” 

-- Kate Linthicum