With plenty of support from dad, a baby dressed in a white onesie danced in the air to the sounds of the Free Nationals band at MacArthur Park earlier this month.
Children, whose faces were painted with animals and majestic creatures, showed off their best dance moves to win prizes, while an Anderson .Paak-styled mascot hyped them up on stage.
Such was the scene at singer-rapper Anderson .Paak’s second annual .Paak House in the Park, a community-organized event featuring music, food, games, giveaways and free services, including haircuts and nail paintings. The event was put on in collaboration with Paak’s Brandon Anderson Foundation, which spearheads initiatives to expose children and underprivileged communities to arts.
“It’s just important to give back to the community, especially over here [in MacArthur Park],” said the Oxnard native, who once lived near the park.
“A lot of this community gets overlooked,” he said. “The people who are registered are lower income and don’t really get exposed to world-class shows, so [we appreciate] any opportunity we have to play free for the people.”
Among the performers were Paak friends including singer SiR and rapper Schoolboy Q, who picked up the baby from the crowd mentioned earlier to dance, Ty Dolla Sign, Goapele, Madeintyo and Snoh Aalegra. All were backed by the Free Nationals Band.
Last year’s event, which had about 1,500 attendees, featured Raphael Saadiq, Jhene Aiko and Isaiah Rashad.
This year’s show is estimated to have attracted more than 4,000 attendees, raising $155,000 for the organization. Paak said he plans to continue the event each year.
Families were the focus, including Paak’s 1- and 7-year old sons. Hip-hop artist Madeintyo also brought his son on stage while he performed “Uber Everywhere,” and many of the other performers backstage tended to their children, who ranged from infants to teenagers.
Longtime Paak fans Roger Salazar and Maddie Estrada of Moreno Valley said that they were grateful to be able to bring their 2- and 8-year-olds to the one-day fest that they all could enjoy.
“A lot of events don’t happen at parks anymore, especially for free, so I just feel like it’s necessary,” Salazar said. “It’s a rarity for things like this, so the fact that it’s kid-friendly is a plus.”
Justice Sylstra of San Clemente said that the inclusive nature of the event is what keeps her coming back.
“I loved that there were so many young people here,” the 19-year-old said.
“Coming with my family, there’s an energy that changes the atmosphere,” she said. “It’s totally different when there’s family love.”