En Español.

Over 100 people gathered at John O’Connell High School Saturday to drum, dance and stilt-walk at Loco Bloco’s first “Hella Loco” day of carnaval classes. The group included people of all ages: adults, teenagers and children, some as young as 3 years old.

The classes are open to the community and will take place every Saturday until the carnaval parade on May 26.

This is the 19th year that Loco Bloco, a Mission-based nonprofit that uses the arts to help empower youth of color, will participate in carnaval.

Loco Bloco’s executive director, Annie Jupiter-Jones, was raised in the Mission and participated in her first carnaval with Loco Bloco when she was a teenager. Since then she has been involved with Loco Bloco as a participant, staff member, instructor and now as director.

Loco Bloco’s carnaval classes are unique, Jupiter-Jones said, because the whole family can participate. The group offers something for all ages, from its “Bloquito” classes for children 3 to 5 years old to its teen and adult dance and drumming classes.

“We have such a strong multigenerational community,” she said.

Angelita Chukwudebe, 16, has been involved with Loco Bloco for nine years. She started as a “poco” dancer and drummer and now assists classes as a Loco Bloco youth apprentice.

“For me, Loco Bloco has always been my safe haven,” Chukwudebe said. “It’s a place where I can go and not be judged. It’s a family.”

Social justice and community involvement are central to Loco Bloco’s mission, Jupiter-Jones said. This year Loco Bloco’s carnaval theme is all about “showcasing and honoring our community in San Francisco.”

For more information about Loco Bloco’s carnaval classes, go to www.locobloco.org/.