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

Thousands ring in the new year at Grand Park in downtown L.A.
Maria De Leon, left, and Debra Randall celebrate New Year's Eve at Grand Park. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)

Thousands of teenagers, families and tourists from as far away as Finland danced, sampled food truck fare and brought in the new year at the Grand Park event Sunday in downtown Los Angeles.

There was no alcohol or fireworks, but several revelers said the free gala, now in its fifth year, finally was giving Los Angeles a focal point in which to celebrate the city.

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”It’s not at the Times Square level yet, but it’s getting there,” said Keith Thomas, 23, of Long Beach.

The event, known as Grand Park + Music Center’s N.Y.E. L.A., stretched for several blocks in the heart of the civic center and featured live music, photo booths and supersized 3-D video images projected on the City Hall tower. The crowd included about 45,000 people, LAPD Capt. Scott Harrelson said.

The event unfolded under heavy security, which irked some. But others said the organization made them feel safe.

Those who ventured into the “digital dance zone” had their gyrations projected on the criminal courthouse as part of the interactive light show.

“I was born and raised in L.A., and we’ve never really had a unity place,” said Playa del Rey business owner Ryan Gales, 39. “To see this many people having fun makes me happy.”

“It's good clean fun,” said Charles Hays, 52, a retired Air Force officer who came in from La Quinta to attend with his wife and daughter. “A real family atmosphere.”

Jessica Rodrigues and Cornelius Rodrigues embrace each other while dancing at the New Year's Eve celebration in Grand Park.
Jessica Rodrigues and Cornelius Rodrigues embrace each other while dancing at the New Year's Eve celebration in Grand Park. (Marcus Yam / Los Angeles Times)
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