DTLA’s new Grand Park opens with exciting spectacle
A year ago, City Hall, in downtown Los Angeles, was the makeshift residence of the Occupy L.A. Movement. Group members were united in their discontent for the state of the economy, but divided in their purpose. On Saturday, Oct. 6, over 100 people sat in the middle of Spring Street. in front of City Hall with a clear purpose, albeit a different one: To celebrate a historic moment in the city of Los Angeles, as it opened the final two blocks of the new Grand Park.Grand Park is downtown’s newest and most innovative design. Located in the center of the Cultural and Civic Center, the park is 12 acres in size, spanning over four city blocks between Grand Avenue. and Spring Street. The purpose of the new park is to bring the people of Los Angeles, from all different cultures and backgrounds, together, to enjoy the lush green area of land dotted with various amenities open for all. The idea for Grand Park has been floating around since 1950. But only after the Grand Avenue Authority, a joint powers authority between the County of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency, was formed in 2003, did the design and planning begin. In July 2010, construction in the downtown Los Angeles area commenced. Two years and $56 million dollars later, the park was finally finished. Families, couples, the young, the old, and people from various backgrounds could be seen everywhere, with the buzz of excitement and curiosity permeating the air. The block party celebrated the park opening, and included an incredible itinerary for people to enjoy. First, the crowd was treated to an exquisitely choreographed performance located at the fountain on Grand Avenue, where dancers glided effortlessly in the fountain waters to a wonderful musical composition. “This is one of the coolest things I’ve seen done in Los Angeles,” said UCLA student Caitlin Ward. “Of course the park is amazing, but just the effort going into celebrating the park, and the diversity is what stuns me,” she continued. “We’re all here, witnessing history. I just wish there were more trees,” she laughed. Next up was a jazz performance by the Cuban band Dos Y Mas, between Grand Avenue and Hill Street. People sat eating food they purchased from the various vendors around the park and listening to the captivating performance. “I’m in complete awe,” Julie Chan said, as she wiped ketchup from her smiling sons’ face. “I came with most of my family. At first we didn’t think it was going to be this exciting, but this is truly something else. The city of Los Angeles has something beautiful that it can be proud of and that’s great. We’re definitely going to keep coming back. It’s so family oriented and diverse, but if you want to just come alone and relax, you can do that here too,” she added. The countdown for the opening began at 7 p.m. Fireworks shot into the air around City Hall, and the crowd moved into the newest section of the park where they would be able to watch the most anticipated event of the night, the Bandaloop performance. Dancers performed fluid and elegant routines, suspended hundreds of feet in the air on the side of the City Hall building on Spring Street. Twisting, turning, flipping and flying through the air in a performance that reminded people of Cirque Du Soleil. And while the diversity of the crowd definitely resonated with the guests, there was one Angeleno who was taken aback by the renovation of the downtown area. “They’ve done a fine job reinventing the area,” says Patty Marenco, “ It used to be such a mess over here.” “I moved here in ’92 from Hawaii with my husband and it did not look anything like this,” she said. Grand Park is officially open to the public. With events similar to the ones seen Saturday night planned each month, Grand Park is sure to be the destination for many people of all backgrounds in Los Angeles.