A free New Year's Eve celebration at Grand Park in downtown Los Angeles will encompass three times the space of last year's inaugural event, with a brighter digital countdown display on City Hall as well as more food booths, live music and security, organizers say.
The event will feature other changes as the Music Center — which operates the park that stretches over 12 acres of the city's Civic Center — tries to work out kinks from last year's party. In 2013, 25,000 people showed up, about triple what was expected. Fences were trampled as crowds rushed to get in, and some revelers complained about long lines for food and beer.
When the gates open at 7 p.m. Wednesday, about 30 food booths will be on hand, double that of last year. And there will be four entrance gates instead of two, said Lucas Rivera, Grand Park's director.
FOR THE RECORD
Dec. 30, 12:07 p.m.: An earlier version of this article incorrectly said there would be 30 food trucks and booths. There will 30 food booths, but no food trucks. Also, Lucas Rivera's job title was incorrectly given as Grand Park's director of operations. He is Grand Park's director.
However, unlike last year no alcoholic beverages will be sold or allowed into the event. Rivera called that restriction an attempt to make the celebration more "family friendly." The larger crowds also mean there will be more security, including Los Angeles County sheriff's deputies, Los Angeles police officers and the Music Center's own security force, he said.
"We think we'll get around 30,000 people,'' Rivera said. "But we can handle more than that. Capacity is 50,000."
Everyone entering the celebration must have their bags checked for prohibited items, including weapons and alcohol.
The festivities are a response to a long-held complaint by Angelenos that they have no central gathering spot to ring in the new year. Since it opened in 2012 the park has increasingly become a public destination, hosting cultural events, fireworks displays, and this past summer, a commercial music festival.
But Rivera said it would be a mistake to suggest that L.A. is trying to steal some of the limelight from the annual New Year's Eve gathering at Times Square in New York City. "L.A. is ready for its own celebration, and we are planting the seeds," Rivera said.
To squeeze in more crowds, the Music Center is expanding the celebration to streets next to Grand Park, a total of 84 acres stretching from Grand Avenue to Main Street and Temple to 2nd Street. Music ranging from electronica to folk rock, all played by L.A.-based musicians and DJ's, will be presented on three stages. A schedule of musical acts can be found on the park's website, grandparkla.org.
Instagram images of Los Angeles contributed by local residents will be projected onto the county Hall of Records building. Four free photo booths will be on the grounds for partygoers to share snaps with family and friends, and for a lucky few, to be projected for the crowd on the county building.
Throughout the evening, vibrant, flowing digital imagery will be projected on two sides of City Hall, reaching 22 stories. Music and crowd noise will trigger movement, making City Hall's iconic tower appear to morph and transform, organizers said.
At 11:50, a 10-minute digital presentation called "The Heartbeat of Los Angeles" will be projected onto City Hall. Created by Los Angeles firm yU&co, it will weave images of city landmarks with those of everyday life — including congested freeways, shrinking water supplies and people living on the fringe.
Garson Yu, who headed up the creative team, said he wanted to combine a visual narrative with interactive sound in a large public setting, hopefully in a way that will inspire people.
His team this week was busy installing 16 projectors to light up the west and south-facing sides of City Hall. Each of the projectors emits 40,000 lumens, making this year's display four times brighter than the one last year, Yu said. Two years ago he staged a similar installation on Pier 57 in New York City and received a great response, he said.
But L.A.'s installation will be even bigger and brighter.
"This is going to be really spectacular,'' he said. "My hope is that Angelenos will come out to Grand Park and live in the moment."