Thousands ring in new year at Grand Park party in downtown L.A.

For the second year in a row, several thousand people rang in the new year at a free public celebration at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles.

On a blustery night with temperatures expected to plunge to the low 30s, a large, diverse crowd gathered to listen to music, cram into photo booths and watch light shows on a 12-acre space stretching between City Hall and the Music Center


As a Los Angeles tradition, New Year's Eve in Grand Park is still in its infancy. But Ah-Ram Cho, a visting student from South Korea, heard about the celebration from her host family and decided that it would be a true Los Angeles experience.

"We don't mind" the cold, Cho said. "We are in the U.S.A. and we want to see people celebrating."

There were families pushing strollers, dog walkers, young couples in evening wear and roaming packs of teenagers — everyone in thick coats and stopping for selfies by City Hall.

Burritos and hot drinks warmed hands, but this year, alcohol was banned to make the event more family-friendly. About 400 security personnel, including Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, Los Angeles police officers and private security guards, patrolled perimeter streets and the park.

Without alcohol, Josh Albrektson had trouble persuading his friends to come out. He did a quick tour of the celebration with his King Charles Cavalier spaniel, Spartacus, before returning to his loft residence nearby.

Albrektson said his friends "probably would be here if they had alcohol."

Organizers hope that New Year's Eve in Grand Park will become a tradition for Los Angeles like Times Square is for New York City. But instead of a ball dropping, Grand Park organizers made municipal buildings into light shows. Changing imagery triggered by music and crowd noise was projected onto two walls of City Hall, as a 10-minute video about life in Los Angeles played out across City Hall's facade. Instagram images with the hashtag #lastory were projected on the county Hall of Records building.

"It's not Times Square, but it's a good substitute," said Evan Kelly, 17, of Riverside. "The projections on the side of City Hall are really impressive."

Kelly and his 20-year-old sister Hannah made the drive to see Mr. Little Jeans, an electro-pop performer whom Hannah follows online. A dozen local artists from a wide range of styles including electronica, soul and folk rock performed on three music stages.

It wasn't clear how this year's attendance compared to last year's inaugural celebration, which was almost too well-attended. About 25,000 revelers crammed into Grand Park last year, clustering on side streets, queuing in overlong beer lines and buying so much food that vendors ran out.

Organizers made the event much larger this year — four entrance gates instead of two, three times the event space and twice as many food options as last year. Even the light display projected onto City Hall was brighter — 16 projectors emitting 40,000 lumens each were installed around City Hall.

The New Year's Eve celebration represented an attempt to create a citywide tradition around Grand Park, which promotes itself as "The Park for Everyone." Over the last year the space has hosted fireworks shows, cultural events, and a music festival headlined by Kanye West.