COSTA MESA — Residents flooded Fairview Park on Tuesday afternoon as heat of the day slowly dissipated with the transition to evening.
They were there to hear the Costa Mesa-based Dan Krikorian Band play for the final Concerts in the Park. The five-part series, which ran every Tuesday starting July 5, was sponsored by the city and the Costa Mesa Community Foundation.
Fairview Park was filled with families and groups of friends clustered together on a blanket, or settled into a row of lawn chairs, as they dug into homemade food or a tasty treat from one of three gourmet food trucks there.
"The idea is that it brings neighbors together, neighborhoods together and families together," said foundation President Bill Turpit.
As they waited for the night's festivities to begin, a crowd of boys played football while smaller children had their faces painted by Costa Mesa High School cheerleaders.
"Most people I've talked to say, 'Isn't it great we've gotten to meet our neighbors?'" said longtime Costa Mesa John McGlinn, adding later "because many times, unless for a setting like this, we probably wouldn't meet out neighbors."
This year, food trucks came, and a wine and beer garden was added. Proceeds from both go back to the foundation for its community grant program, Turpit said.
Attendance for the series started with nearly 800 residents during the first concert, The Peggy Nelson Project, and swelled to as many as 2,000 when the Beatles tribute band Help! played July 19.
Help! was a favorite for 8-year-old Sophie Harlan, who said her favorite songs were "Help!" and "Strawberry Fields Forever."
"It's really fun," she said. "You get to listen to music. You get to get bubbles, face painting, make a keychain."
Sophie's mother, Melinda Harlan, said the family has been coming to the Concerts in the Park series for years. Sophie's 4-year-old sister Evie spends the whole night right in front of the dance floor, Harlan said.
"It's a great little community gathering," she said, adding later, "I just like the sense of community."