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Photos: Carnaval parade fills, thrills the Mission in San Francisco

A person dressed in colorful carnival attire with large, vibrant pink and blue feathered wings is blowing a whistle. They have multiple necklaces and a sequined outfit.
Parade participants from Brazil, Mexico, Panama, Bolivia, Cuba, Peru, Puerto Rico, Nicaragua, Colombia, Trinidad and Tobago, Guatemala and El Salvador dance during the procession on Sunday in San Francisco. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Thousands of people lined the streets of San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood for Sunday’s 46th annual Carnaval San Francisco grand parade.

Dozens of classic cars, ornate floats laden with colorful fabric and flowers and dancing troupes in a dazzling display of costumes commanded attention from every eye and ear, highlighting carnaval’s intent to honor indigenous cultures.

The carnival’s grand parade kicked off at 10 a.m. from 24th and Bryant streets, winding its way west on 24th, north along Mission Street, east onto 15th Street and concluding at South Van Ness Avenue.

A woman in a red-embroidered white top and sunglasses holds a "Made in the Mission" sign, riding in a convertible during a parade with spectators lining the street.
The parade spanned 17 blocks of the Mission and featured over 3,000 artists. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Rigoberta Menchú Tum—a Guatemalan activist who received the award in 1992 for her work advocating for indigenous rights—served as grand marshal and accompanied recently crowned Carnaval King Yeison Jimenez and Queen Monica Mendoza on a special float.

Along Bryant Street, some members of Frontline Essential Workers of Laborers Union Local 261 tossed orange-bead necklaces to passersby as the group’s float parade waited to begin in earnest. 

Diego Hernandez told The Standard that the float represented “our brothers and sisters that work at Park and Rec to beautify and maintain our parks, the streets in [the Department of Public Works] and anything to do with construction.”

Dancers in vibrant traditional feathered costumes perform in a street parade, while onlookers stand behind barricades along the sidewalk on a sunny day.
A dancer performs during the 2024 San Francisco Carnaval Grand Parade in the Mission. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

“Today’s great! We’re honored to be part of the carnaval 2024 as essential workers,” Hernandez said. “A lot of our brothers and sisters live here and we’re just happy to be here.”

Nearby, Marcia Cigarra looked on as members of Abadá Capoeira San Francisco cheered white-clad dancers flexing within a circle to rollicking rhythms from handclaps and a trio of berimbaus.

“The weather is so nice today,” Cigarra said. “It’s a pleasure. People come from other places just to be a part of it. Some people work all year long for this big event.”

A green float with white railings waits along a city street curb as several people wearing ornate and colorful outfits smile and wave at a camera.
Lorena Montalvo joins members of Comunidad Maya Yucateca aboard their float on Bryant Street as they await Sunday’s 2024 San Francisco Carnaval Grand Parade. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

Standing atop the Comunidad Maya Yucateca float, Lorena Montalvo gleefully pointed to her image, alongside three other parade participants, on the themed artwork representing the parade’s focus on indigenous roots. 

“I’m representing!” said Montalvo, whose radiant smile and ornate outfit showed pride in her Yucatec Mayan roots from Mexico. “I’m so happy, I’m so excited to be here!”

Michelle Jeffers, chief of community programs and partnerships for the city’s public library, said Sunday would be her first carnaval, and pointed to her parade float members preparing for the day’s displays of community presence. 

A man in a red cap and jeans rides a shiny gold bicycle past a seated crowd on city streets during a parade. The crowd watches attentively on a sunny day.
Thousands of people turned out to watch the dazzling floats and stunning cars and bicycles on display at the annual celebration. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Many on the float work at the Mission branch’s temporary site on Valencia Street between 23rd and 24th streets during the original location’s renovation, which is due to finish in 2025.

“We’re trying to stay hydrated, getting our scarves ready, and we’ve got our ride,” Jeffers said, pointing to one of the library’s bookmobiles. “We just love a parade!”

Sunday’s parade followed a carnaval festival that began Saturday along several blocks of Harrison Street, featuring music, dancing, food and crafts.

A vibrant street parade with dancers in colorful feathered costumes moves down the street, surrounded by confetti and cheering spectators.
Colorful dance troupes entertained onlookers at the parade on Sunday. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard

Musical headliners included Mexican singer Noel Torres, Latin fusion group Pirulo Y La Tribu and Honduran band Banda Blanca blending merengue and punta sounds. Cuban Latin pop star Franco was also set to perform. Previous headliners have included Santana, Tower of Power, Los Lonely Boys, Celia Cruz, Los Tigres del Norte and Tito Puente.

The festival typically draws 400,000 people, according to local organizers, and generates about $10 million for local businesses.

A person wearing a dark shirt and sunglasses rides in a custom pickup truck in a parade.
Melinda Martinez lifts her truck bed during the 2024 San Francisco Carnaval Grand Parade in the Mission neighborhood of San Francisco on Sunday. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard
A drum troupe wearing brightly colored costumes hold mallets high over their heads against a backdrop of palm trees and sunlit buildings.
Drummers entertain the crows during the 2024 San Francisco Carnaval Grand Parade in the Mission. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard
A woman in colorful, feathered costume blows a kiss at a street parade. Others in vibrant outfits and large feathered headdresses dance in the background.
A dancer blows a kiss during the parade. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard
A man inside a large and brightly colored puppet costume manuevers it along a parade route.
A giant puppet performs in a shiny orange costume. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard
A small, colorful toy car with elaborate blue and purple designs is on the street, positioned in front of a larger white car with an orange roof and chrome wheels.
Crowd member Joshua Pacheco, 14, drives his RC low-rider along the full-scale classic cars. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard
A group of people in vibrant blue and green outfits march down a street playing drums. They wear headgear and body paint, with a lively, festive atmosphere.
Erick Sanchez, center, plays the drums as part of a musical troupe in the procession. | Source: Paul Kuroda for The Standard
A candy apple red Cadillac on lifted wheels rides through a city intersection.
A modified classic car rolls on lifted wheels along 24th Street at Bryant Street. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard
A white-clad boy wearing red shoes cartwheels in a street as white-clad dancers and musicians play around him in a circle.
Members of Abadá Capoeira San Francisco cheer, clap, play berimbaus, and encourage a young dancer defying gravity before Sunday's 2024 San Francisco Carnaval Grand Parade. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard
A black Cadillac with five smiling, happy people enjoying bright sunshine before a parade starts.
A black, old-school 1964 Chevrolet Impala glints in the morning sunshine as its occupants grin alongside auto-club vehicles during the festivities. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard
Children smile and pose for a picture on a sunlit city street before a parade
Students from Buena Vista Horace Mann K-8 Community School cheer beside a banner on Bryant Street before Sunday’s Carnaval San Francisco Grand Parade. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard
A colorful boat-laden float awaits a parade's start
A colorful float for Sonia Cecilia James Parris, Miss Panama San Francisco, California, basks in sunlight along Bryant Street before the beginning of the Carnaval San Francisco Grand Parade. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard
Musicians beat drums and hold horns on a sunlit sidewalk during a parade.
Banda de Viento Corona plays music while dancers with Oaxaca En SF Danza De Diablos STG Juxtlahuaca prepare along Bryant Street for the Carnaval San Francisco Grand Parade. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard
A group of eight people watch hundreds of other people wearing brightly colored outfits line several blocks of a city street during a parade.
Members of group floats watch costumed performers rehearse and prepare along several blocks of Bryant Street on Sunday. | Source: George Kelly/The Standard

George Kelly can be reached at