The same old sights, vendors and rides revisited the neighborhood Saturday at the Adams Square Street Fair, which was canceled last year due to major construction.
The annual event brought live music, food, carnival rides and games to 2,000 to 4,000 visitors a year for six years before being canceled in 2006, said Carol Cianfrini, who is on the Adams Square Merchants Assn. board of directors.
"We had a lot of inquiries [last year] as to why we weren't doing it," Cianfrini said. "But at the same time they saw our streets were all torn up."
City officials broke ground on a $1.2-million streetscape improvement project in May 2006. The project included planting up 55 new trees along Chevy Chase Drive, Acacia Avenue, Adams Street, Park Avenue and Palmer Avenue. Installation of a decorative trellis over the existing plaza at Adams and Chevy Chase and upgraded crosswalks featuring ornamental designs were among other improvements to the shopping center.
With the streetscape project's completion last year, even organizers said they were excited about the return of the street fair.
"People didn't know there was life south of Broadway," Cianfrini said. "We're trying to reach out to the community…. and entertaining the kids. Where there's kids, the parents come."
Ani Babakhanians, 13, said she came out with her friends to see what the commotion was. Adams Street was blocked off at Chevy Chase Drive and Palmer Avenue. From around the nearby Adams Hill neighborhood, residents could see a 25-feet-tall super slide and even taller Ferris wheel.
One of her friends remarked that the fair seemed boring, but even so they were carrying an inflatable guitar, prizes from the game booths, and handing tickets over to ride the rotating swing ride.
"It's fun," Ani said. "You win prizes and stuff."
Four carnival game booths were literally giving prizes away. The everybody-wins policy of the carnival booths — run by Long Beach-based Kids Midway Inc. — was geared toward the smaller children, said owner Bernie Donohoe.
"Everyone gets a prize," Donohoe said. "Nothing worse than a child coming up and not getting something. I don't want to see people spend money and not winning."
Donohoe said he enjoyed coming out to Adams Square every year the fair has happened because the neighborhood seems safe, quiet and diverse.
Adams Hill resident Mickey Sabio, 28, said he noticed most of the same vendors and rides came out this year. He said the best part about the fair was the live music.
Three bands played Saturday night on a stage in front of a dry cleaners. A beer garden was in the fenced-off area next to the stage and nearby were the food booths. It was a good set-up for people to just relax and listen to music, Sabio said.
Sabio said he sees people in the community outside with their children or pets, hanging out, going to work or coming back and the fair is a great place to approach them and chat.
"We have a pretty tight-knit community," he said.
But the fair is important for the children as well because it is silly, wholesome fun that they can enjoy, he said.
"It keeps kids focused and in the right direction, out of the hands of bad influences," he said. "It kind of lets them know it's cool to be young."