SPEF Color Festival to Celebrate Spring This Weekend

Held every year in the School District parking lot, the Color Festival is inspired by Holi, the Hindu festival of colors, which celebrates the arrival of spring. Photo by Harry Yadav

Students, parents, teachers and community members alike will come together to celebrate spring with a burst of color Saturday, March 16, for the South Pasadena Educational Foundation (SPEF)’s fourth annual Color Festival from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the South Pasadena Unified School District parking lot, located at 1020 El Centro Street.

The exuberant festival is inspired by the Indian festival of Holi and will be a fun-filled day of food, music, games and vibrant color throwing. Attendance is $5 and event attendees will be able to separately purchase small bags of brightly colored, non-toxic cornstarch. “Color bundles” will also be available and includes admission, a T-shirt, sunglasses, a bandana and three bags of color for $25. All attendees are encouraged to play, dance and color each other throughout the event.

“Oh my goodness, the kids absolutely love it, all ages,” Stacey Petersen, SPEF executive director, shared with The Review. “We have toddlers in there all the way up to the adults. It is one of the few events that is not age specific. Parents are in there smiling and having fun just as much as the kids are having fun with each other! It’s a lot of fun to see the families playing together.”

New to this year’s Color Festival will be a super slide, human “whack-a-mole” game, giant bouncy house sponsored by SmileHaus Orthodontics and oversized Kerplunk and Connect Four games. Children 8 and under will be able to enjoy a designated “Kid Zone” with games and activities provided by My Gym. Food trucks and tables will be available inside the venue and include Dina’s Dumplings, Kon Tiki Tacos, Kona Ice, Menchie’s and Twohey’s.

Parents can take a break from the activities in the new “Parent Lounge,” which will feature a cellphone charging stand and complementary massages provided by Massage Envy.

“It’ll be a place where parents can sit and watch versus actually going in, although so many of the parents actually love to go in and join the kids,” Petersen said.

The Color Festival was an idea kindled by parent and then-SPEF board member Vijay Sehgal who hails from India and felt that it would be fun to bring the spirit of the Holi Festival to South Pasadena. Sehgal consulted with then-SPEF President Jon Primuth (now SPUSD School Board Member) and then-SPEF Board Member Jean Zenas and “they ran with it,” according to Petersen. This year the event is co-chaired by SPEF Board Members Cheryl Simmons and Catie DiFelice.

In India, the Holi Festival is a celebration of spring that is enjoyed by entire communities. According to SPEF, “it’s a day when people of all ages, and from all walks of life, come together as a community and differences are washed away in color.”

Holi is traditionally celebrated at the end of the winter season on the last full moon day of the Hindu calendar month and changes with the lunar cycle. This year, Holi aligns with the spring equinox March 20, resulting in the week of the 16th being a global celebration of spring.  

The festival also serves as a family-friendly event for SPEF to say “thank you” to the community for its support throughout the year and to seek ideas for future events. Last year’s event drew in over 1,500 attendees and raised approximately $10,000, according to Petersen. Proceeds from the festival go toward supporting SPEF’s efforts to provide enrichment opportunities and special programs in local public schools.

For more information on SPEF’s Color Festival, visit www.spef4kids.org/fundraising-events/color-festival.