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City Beat: A Christmas tradition in Los Angeles' Historic Filipinotown

December 15, 2012 |  1:42 pm

Each year in Los Angeles' Historic Filipinotown, people gather for the parol parade. 

Parols are star-shaped lanterns on bamboo poles. They represent the Star of Bethlehem.

On Friday night, about 80 people came to Burlington Nursery School on Burlington Avenue to assemble for the parade, which took them along Burlington Avenue to Temple Street, then down Mountain View Avenue to Beverly Boulevard and back to the school for a meal.

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A whole pig was roasted for the parade, which was organized by the Historic Filipinotown Neighborhood Council. Lechón -- roast pork -- is a Filipino specialty. To keep warm on the cool, drizzly evening, people drank cups of salabat, a sweet ginger drink, and had bowls full of arroz caldo, a sort of Filipino chicken congee.

In the old days in the Philippines, most parols contained candles, said Cecile Ramos, who owns Burlington Nursery School and is president of the neighborhood council. People carried the parols to light their way across the fields to early Mass on the nine days before Christmas. 

The parols in parade in Los Angeles had electric lights, powered by battery packs.

Here's a look at the parols and the parade, which I sent out on Twitter: 

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-- Nita Lelyveld

Follow City Beat on Twitter at @latimescitybeat and on Facebook. Send ideas for City Beat dispatches to nita.lelyveld@latimes.com.

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