Veronica Combs and Jean Cedric Ndzomo, the Queen and King of Carnaval 2013. Photo Dave Golden

The 35th annual San Francisco Carnaval celebration officially kicked into gear with the crowning of Veronica Combs and Jean Cedric Ndzomo as Queen and King of Carnaval.

The event—full of happy faces, over-the-top feathered costumes and non-stop dancing—was held at the Brava Theater May 10, amid the roar of a filled-to-capacity crowd.

Carnaval came very close to not happening this year due to the financial shortfall of San Francisco Cultural Arts Traditions (SFCAT), which had organized it since 2009. “We are trying to have the same spirit with the parade and festival that we’ve always had in previous years,” said volunteer Michael Gibson.

Produced and organized by activists and nonprofits from the Mission District, Carnaval has become an event that those in the local community refuse to go without.

“I’d like to thank the City of San Francisco,” said Carnaval’s Executive Producer

Roberto Hernandez. “In all the years that I’ve produced Carnaval, this year they truly showed love … making sure Carnaval is done right.”

Working with approximately one-third of the previous $900,000 budget, this year will feature fewer stages and will rely more on volunteer support, grassroots efforts and help from community sponsors.

Bursting with music, dance and food, the event is estimated to bring attendance of well over 400,000 people.

“I’d like to bring awareness to the fact that this is something that our city needs to be proud of,” said Katy Alaniz Rous, director of the Mission-based dance company World Dance Fusion. “I feel like people need to stand up and be ambassadors for its [Carnaval] future.”

Thanks to fiscal sponsorship from Galería de la Raza, and support from organizations such as Acción Latina, Brava Theater for Women in the Arts, Loco Bloco and others that formed the Carnaval 2013 Planning Committee, attendees will get to revel in the spectacle that is Carnaval for yet another year.

The theme for this year’s Carnaval is Harlem Shake—a street-dance style from New York that went viral in early 2013, where people dance wildly in unusual locations. It made a great fit for the vibe of Carnaval.

This year’s Carnaval festivities will include family-oriented games, DJ dance parties, a collaborative art expo showcasing Latino and Chicano artists that was put together by the The Mexican Museum and Precita Eyes as well as “NBA Nation,” an area dedicated to basketball.

“This has brought a new life to Carnaval,” Hernandez said when asked if this year’s financial distress affected the production staff. “We turned a negative into a positive. Many lessons learned, as well as a new hope for the future.”