A memorial table for Jenni Rivera after she passed. Photo by Matt Cohn.
The City Council unanimously approved a motion at Tuesday’s meeting to propose naming a local park in honor of internationally acclaimed Latin singer and la Diva de la Banda Jenni Rivera, who grew up in Long Beach and attended Poly High.
“It’s rare for us to be able to name a park or an area of the city after someone who is young, and it’s always tragic when that happens,” Councilmember Suzie Price said. “But in this situation, the vibrancy and the youth that she brought forth is a great representation to have in the city of Long Beach.”
Relatives of Rivera, who was killed in a 2012 plane crash in Mexico at the age of 43, were present at the meeting to support the initiative.
“She was just a girl from Long Beach,” Rosie Rivera, Jenni’s sister, told the council. “She traveled the world, but to know that her town has honored her is better than any Grammy.”
The currently unnamed park is located on Walnut Ave. and 20th St. near Chittick Field and its proposed new moniker is Jenni Rivera Memorial Park. While the entire council was in favor of the name change, a few community members expressed their displeasure with the motion.
“I know that the artist Jenni Rivera was and is a great contributor in our community, but I would have liked the name to be a bit more general so all of us could identify with her,” 6th District resident Estrella Valle said via a translator. “I would also like to acknowledge that not all residents like Banda music.”
Valle suggested that the park be named The Great Lady or Tolerance Park and have a tree planted in honor of Rivera.
Andres, a 6th District resident who did not disclose his last name, said he was afraid Rivera’s penchant for on-stage drinking would cast the city in a negative light.
“I think it’s a bad idea to name this park Jenni Rivera,” he said via a translator. “Unfortunately, the idea that people have of her is that she induces other people to be alcoholics.”
Despite the complaints, the council moved forward with the recommendation. The Housing and Neighborhoods Committee and the Parks and Recreation Commission will make a decision and return to the council at an unknown date.
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