Some went for the fireworks. Some went to spend time with family. Others, still, went for the music.
Stacy Hill, 40, decided to make her way to Grand Park in downtown for the daylong Fourth of July festivities for all those reasons. But, for her, the day included another more "emotional" significance.
"The Fourth of July means to me complete and utter freedom. The ability for you to stand here and ask me questions. The ability for me to answer them," said Hill, a Pico Rivera resident. "We have so many soldiers that haven't returned and they're still fighting for us to keep that freedom."
Hill lounged on a picnic blanket as her 3-year-old grandson played nearby. As she spoke, other spectators stood and swayed to the alternative rock band Echosmith, cooling themselves with complimentary fans provided by event organizers.
The park between Spring and Broadway became blanketed by picnicking families. Spectators took in performances by Echosmith, Brick + Mortar, Phantogram, Wild Cub and Semi Precious Weapons.
For those with subtler music sensibilities, another stage between Hill Street and Grand Avenue showcased the work of house music artist SOULNIC.
Anissa Alston, 45, danced on the patch of open grass in front of the SOULNIC stage with three or four others.
"I just wanted to come and be able to dance in the sunshine in the park," the Gardena resident said.
Carlos Ramos, who attended the event last year, said Friday's event felt more "concealed" and less open due to heightened security.
Still, Ramos, 46, said he's optimistic about how the rest of the day will turn out. He added that events hosted at Grand Park foster a closer sense of community.
"It's a free show. You can't go wrong," he said. "I think it's great they're doing this for L.A., especially downtown L.A. I think downtown needs to be a little more friendly, and this is a good thing."
The proximity was also a draw for the downtown resident.
"We don't have to go to Santa Monica or somewhere else," he said. "We can just do it over here and have a good time.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times