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Venice Electric Light Parade Dazzles The Beach

The Venice Electric Light Parade is a gift to the community, rolling out every Sunday at sunset. VELP travels along the dazzling beach and parades through the city, sharing an uplifting mood of celebration. This high vibration collective of bike riders light up the night sky of the California coast with LED lights, dance music, and good energy. VELP was created by Marcus “Sombrero Marc” Gladney in 2015. He was captured by an idea to organize an event that encourages community, fun, and a little bit of fitness. Anyone is welcome to hop on their bike and join the ride until night settles in Venice. If you’re in LA you must check out the Venice Electric Light Parade to experience the pure magic!

Culturas would love to hear your story. Tell us how your journey began.

The journey began in November 2015, when I met Sebastian the light man. I would watch the sunset then leave the boardwalk right after. One evening, I decided to stay longer and noticed bicycles with LED lights around their spokes. After asking a few people, I found out that Sebastian sold the lights on the boardwalk at sunset. Two weeks of searching, I finally ran into him as he was setting up. I told him my name, where I was from, and mentioned that I was recently out of a relationship and alone in LA. Sebastian was welcoming and we became very good friends. He became like an uncle to me and he eventually taught me how to install lights.

One evening as we were setting up, we were approached by three producers, who were interested in using our bikes as an intro for a late night talk show. The next evening we met with the producers and late-night host, James Corden. Our bikes were then used in the Late Late Show. After that, I asked Sebastian if anyone had tried to start an organized night ride in Venice. He told me no one had and that is when I made my mind up to create the Venice Electric Light Parade.

Has the journey been an easy one and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?

The journey has not been an easy one. Still, it takes a lot of organization to keep the event a safe and fun-filled experience for all new riders as well as the VELP veterans. We are quickly approaching our 200th ride; the challenge is worth the reward.

How did you select Venice for VELP?

It was simple. Venice is the only magical place in Los Angeles, where the community encourages self-expression no matter how weird.

VELP experience is immersed with music; who creates the vibe/curates the playlist?

The playlist is compiled by myself and Javier Covarruvias. We both have the sound bikes which are pulled trailers that have speakers. The music playlist is curated weekly for a fresh sound each and every ride.

The VELP community is incredibly diverse and inclusive; was that intentional?

Yes it was very intentional, the mission of VELP is safe cycling at night and the message is intended for all to receive far and wide.  With that being said any and everyone is welcome to come and participate in the World Famous Venice Electric Light Parade

Tell us what’s new/upcoming with  VELP – what should we know?

We have just rolled out VELP bicycle rentals for tourist or friends and family of VELP too attend the Venice Electric Light Parade. We have made it really simple to join.  The upcoming surprise we had coming in store is celebrity ride alongs and post ride entertainment.

You’ve got so much style! Where do you draw inspiration from? Or who inspires you?

My inspiration comes from my favorite all-time movie Willie Wonka & the Chocolate Factory as well as MAGICAL Venice Beach, of course.

At Culturas we are inspired by culture and powered by diversity and inclusion, do you have any family stories, traditions, recipes, to share?

Growing up in Kansas City, my parents would host parties at our house. I would take notice of how happy my parent’s friends were who would be in attendance. My parents were the life of the parties and what I saw back then I incorporate on Sunday at VELP.

What are your favorite cultural enclaves to visit; any recommendations of places we must see?

Venice Beach Boardwalk is where all the magic happens. During the VELP parade, the route that we take we pass many other historical must-see locations as well.  

Share with us one of your favorite quotes or the best advice you’ve been given.

Always smile and be very welcoming and treat everyone like family.

Thank you Marcus “Sombrero Marc” Gladney for organizing this incredible community event @veniceelectriclightparade

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