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Opening day brings joy, frustration to residents near Dodger Stadium and fans

Opening day brings joy, frustration to residents near Dodger Stadium and fans
Barbecue and a band were part of the celebration of Dodgers opening day in Elysian Park. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

Daniel Garcia and Marcus Larsen had Tuesday, the Dodgers' home opener, circled on their calendar for very different reasons.

For Garcia, it was a time to celebrate and have a barbeque at his house on the newly christened Vin Scully Avenue, just down the hill from Dodger Stadium.

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"It's an L.A. tradition, we all want to have fun," said the 27-year-old, holding a platter of freshly grilled tacos.

But for Marcus Larsen, 48, who lives around the corner on Lilac Terrace, opening day is the beginning of months of crowded streets, loud music and drunken revelers.

"It's just a pain," said Larsen, who said he has seen fans fighting in the street after games and can hardly bring himself to root for the Dodgers.

Garcia and Larsen's differing reactions to the first game of the season show the pleasure and pain of living in the shadow of Chavez Ravine. For all the excitement the contests bring, they also can bring a deluge of unwanted noise and even danger, some residents say.

In 2011, Bryan Stow, a Giants fan from Northern California, was beaten after opening day and suffered serious brain injuries. Two men later pleaded guilty in the attack.

Since the attack, the Dodgers have increased security measures around the stadium and the LAPD has cracked down on enforcing open container laws. There was a heavy deployment of officers at the stadium Tuesday.

An officer stopped Bryan Gonzalez as he walked toward the stadium with a paper cup. "You're not drinking beer, are you?" the officer asked.

"No, sir," Gonzalez said.

Gonzalez and his friend, Alex Arias, said they didn't mind the extra police presence.

"They want to shut things down, but at the same time, we understand," Arias said. "We're just trying to enjoy the game."

Most fans seemed unconcerned about security issues. Honking cars snaked up to the stadium with Dodger flags in their windows, and musicians played on lawns.

"Arriba, los Dodgers!" shouted the lead singer of a Norteño band.

But some fans quickly came to understand Larsen's concerns about traffic and parking.

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Karla and Armando Osorio left their Montebello home in time to arrive at Elysian Park at 7:30 a.m. after packing coolers full of tortas, chicken wings and drinks. But when they got there ahead of the 1 p.m. game time, they found that many street entrances were blocked off.

After an hour of searching, the Osorios finally found a parking space and decided to go to the Short Stop bar on Sunset Boulevard instead of picnicing, then walked to the stadium for the game.

Karla Osorio said she was slightly disappointed she wasn't able to tailgate with her friends but still planned to enjoy the day.

"Because when you're coming to a game, Dodger spirit will remain positive," she said.

Twitter: @taygoldenstein and @byjsong

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