Pacoima Historical Society co-hosted Latino Heritage Day at the Museum of the San Fernando Valley on Saturday, October 8, 2022, at the museum. The community turned out to see the Ritchie Valens info exhibit that PHS curated. In addition, there was music, food, and culture blossoming at this event.
Ritchie Valens is Pacoima’s most treasured icon. Although his life was cut short, at only 17 years of age, his legacy has lived on for nearly 65 years. Those who traveled to see this amazing display were not disappointed.
“Someone drove from Las Vegas just to see the Ritchie Valens exhibit and was so excited to learn new things about the music icon,” said museum board member Cheri Derohanian. “I was amazed at the enthusiasm for Ritchie. I had no idea.”
Born Richard Steven Valenzuela, Ritchie grew up on Filmore St in Pacoima and rose to the national stage with hits such as La Bamba, Donna and “Let’s go.” Paramount Studios released a film on his life titled "La Bamba," after he tragically died in 1959 in a plane crash.
The "Latino Rocker" is honored throughout the town with murals, park memorials, and the City of Los Angeles has even named a portion of Interstate 5 after him as his legend continues to grow in Pacoima . One of the town's longest serving community activist, Ed Rose, founder of MEND (Meet Each Need with Dignity), was happy to see the rest of the San Fernando Valley incorporating Pacoima’s history.
“This is great to see," said Rose, who attended the event. "Pacoima has established its roots and now it’s blossoming throughout. This is wonderful to see."
The Ritchie Valens exhibit was designed by the very talented Britt Oates, a curator at the Milken Center for Advancing the American Dream in Washington DC.
Ritchie Valens' music has inspired and influenced generations of Chicano artists and people of many cultures throughout the world. The exhibit at the Museum of the San Fernando Valley, which is free to the public, will be on display through March 31, 2023. Visit the museum's website for visiting hours.