Bar None at This New Year’s Eve Bash


New York celebrates New Year’s Eve at Times Square, and thousands flood Las Vegas streets every Dec. 31 around midnight. Now Hermosa Beach will offer a New Year’s Eve party of its own.

For nearly six hours, musicians, poets, dancers and actors will perform in Hermosa’s downtown to ring in the new year. A portion of Pier Avenue will be closed to traffic, clowns will roam the streets and adults and children will be encouraged to decorate masks and noisemakers.

It’s all part of the city’s first crack at FirstNIGHT, a New Year’s Eve tradition in 100 cities that emphasizes alcohol-free cultural enrichment.


Boston’s event attracts 1 million party-goers annually, and Fullerton hosts a similar festival, but a FirstNIGHT has never been held in Los Angeles County. Organizers hope the event will catch on in Hermosa.

Performances, including interactive theater, jazz bands, poetry and dance, will begin at 6:30 p.m. and continue for five hours. Among the performers scheduled are flamenco guitarist Philip John Lee, jazz band Le Jazz Hot and folk band Zen Gecko.

At 11:30 p.m., a New Orleans jazz band will blast music onto Pier Avenue, where event participants can dance until the countdown to midnight begins.

The event is being promoted as an alcohol-free way to ring in the New Year. While no alcohol will be served at the performance sites, area bars will sell liquor.

Organizers expect thousands of area residents to attend. Admission tickets in the form of buttons are available in several downtown shops and at the Hermosa Beach Chamber of Commerce. The buttons cost $8 in advance and $10 at the event. Children under 12 will be admitted free.

About a dozen performances are planned. Organizers with the nonprofit Arts Hermosa scaled back the event after they collected only about a third of the $100,000 they had hoped to raise to pay performers. Fund raising was hampered because many are unfamiliar with the concept of FirstNIGHT, they say.


“This first year we’re selling air,” said John Scudder, president of Arts Hermosa. “Next year, we’ll have photographs of this year’s event and fund raising will be easier.”


Organizers hope the event will grow into a popular Southland tradition. Hermosa resident Dragana Bajalovic, who attended her first FirstNIGHT in Boston in 1976 and proposed the idea to city officials, said she hopes the festival will foster a greater appreciation of arts in the South Bay.

“I think it’s tragic the way arts are not valued in this country,” said Bajalovic, a professional pianist who moved to the United States from Yugoslavia 25 years ago. “Arts bring people together.”