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Los Angeles Times Festival of Books gets underway on USC campus

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books gets underway on USC campus
Tronc CEO Justin Dearborn, center, is joined by USC President C.L. Max Nikias and recipients of the Read On! Teacher Salute award to kick off the Los Angeles Times Festival of Books on the USC campus Saturday. (Patrick T. Fallon / For The Times)

The 22nd annual L.A. Times Festival of Books officially got underway Saturday morning with a performance by the USC Trojan Marching Band, which got festivalgoers dancing and cheering to a rendition of Pat Benatar's "Heartbreaker" and, of course, "Fight On," among others.

Justin Dearborn, chief executive of Tronc Inc., The Times' parent company, and USC President C.L. Max Nikias delivered opening remarks.

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"There is no better place to host this festival than the USC campus," said Nikias, noting that USC and the L.A. Times are the two oldest surviving nonreligious institutions in the city, with USC having been founded in 1880 and The Times in 1881.

UCLA hosted the festival for 15 years, but it was moved to USC in 2011. More than 160,000 people were expected to attend this weekend's event, Nikias said.

About 200 people gathered around USC's main stage for the kickoff event at 10 a.m., already sweating from 80-degree heat and fierce sunshine. Temperatures were expected to approach 90 later in the day.

Joon-Ho Choi, an architecture professor at USC, came with his wife and three kids, ages 7, 7 and 5. He wanted his children to see the band and get introduced to new books, he said.

"The kids' section is the most interesting," Choi said. "And the travel guide section."

Zoraida Pimentel and her two daughters, Jasmine, 12, and Jackeline, 10, left their home in Coachella at 7 a.m. to attend the festival. They came on a bus with a group from the girls' school, Coral Mountain Academy, whose librarian had organized the trip.

Pimentel was already excited about her first purchase — for $5 — a hard-cover coffee table look back by Life magazine at John F. Kennedy 50 years after his death.

"His life was so fascinating," she said.

Her daughters were more interested in fiction -- John Grisham for Jasmine and "Wimpy Kid" and "Dork Diaries" for Jackeline.

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