Residents of the Arrowhead Village Mobile Home Park said they felt a little like Mary and Joseph this Christmas, after they were told there would be no room for them to live in the park that many have called home for decades.
For many, the other residents of the park became like family. Many of the residents primarily speak Spanish, and have formed tight bonds with their neighbors in the park, which houses about 50 families.
Last month, residents were given notice that the park had been sold and the new owner intended to use the property for a commercial use. Residents have until May 7 to vacate the park.
On Friday night, about 30 residents of the park gathered to join in prayer and a feast, to celebrate the last Christmas they would spend together.
“This is an opportunity to come together, many are Catholic, to share a rosary as a community in solidarity,” said community organizer Roxana De Niz, who does not live in the neighborhood but is working with residents to organize for action. “They are putting their faith in God. Jesus needed a place to stay, and they do too.”
Rev. Patrick Mowrer from San Francisco de Asis Catholic Church prayed the rosary with the group early in the evening, and the group did a posada together, which is a Latin American Christmas tradition that reenacts the biblical census pilgrimage to Bethlehem done by Mary and Joseph. Hosts in the posada act as the innkeepers and the guests act as those making the pilgrimage.
Later the residents shared a meal with some traditional Mexican staples, like pozole, a stew with hominy and meat, atole, a hot drink, and chicken, tortillas and other hot foods to share on the cold night.
“They see themselves as a big family here,” De Niz said. “If all things were perfect they would all end up together.”
Miriam Meza, a resident of Arrowhead Village who has become one of the community’s leaders since the notices were sent out, said the celebration was done to give families some hope for the holiday season. Meza has lived in the park for four years, and said she does not have any plans yet about where she will move when the park closes.
“We did a posada and a rosary to ask for something good for all the families here,” she said in Spanish with a translator. “We want people to know we are all united in this. We want to have a good ending to this process that’s coming ahead.”
Olga Garcia, who has lived in the park for 11 years and has also become one of the community’s organizers, said the dinner and prayers gave residents a chance to be together before they go in different directions.
“It’s an opportunity to be together as a family right before Christmas because we know what’s coming,” she said in Spanish through a translator.
The parcel does not have zoning that would allow for a commercial use without being granted a conditional use permit or a rezoning. The new owner, Kings House Inc., is listed as the owner of the Travelodge on Route 66 near Ponderosa Parkway.
“This might be the last Christmas we are together as one community,” Meza said. “We want to give good wishes.”