Just off the beaten path enough to not disrupt local traffic, the Boyle Heights Block Party was held Sunday, October 21, 2012 on 7th Street and Euclid. While Euclid remained open to traffic between Whittier and 8th, a portion of 7th was closed for passersby, information tables, recreation, and booths providing educational material. In addition, Sunrise Elementary opened their parking lot to the event and hosted the food and live music.
The half-day event–Youth Empowerment Committee from the Building Healthy Communities, Boyle Heights–catered to local youth, which included a photobooth, music and other activities. With a $4000 budget funded by a grant from the California Endowment, students from Roosevelt High School took a portion of the money to do an event for their fellow comrades–and all in an area not normally visited, said 17-year-old Kelly Figueroa, a senior at the Academy of Medicine and Health Science at Roosevelt.
Figueroa, who lives in Estrada Courts and is one of the student organizers, said that many activities happen on “the other side” of Boyle Heights, but not near her home in the south. “The opinion that I had was that it should be in the middle of Boyle Heights so that way both sides could come in and reach in and go.”
The outdoor festival was held adjacent to the 5 freeway, making the din of traffic was smothered by the sound of rock and roll strumming and digital DJ beats. The threat of rain never materialized, but the clouds lent this day to a dramatic backdrop.
Eddie Padilla and Corky Dominguez of Casa 0101 directed youth in a theater game workshop and engaged them in exercises of communication and movement. The two bands, Thee Commons and Scatterd Sun, delivered classic sounds of rock and roll including old school covers of Beatles songs replete with vintage keyboards and a kazoo. The Black and Brown Unity ride from East LA to Watts, with the Ovarian Psychos and the East Side Riders, made it’s way out of the block party at about 3pm taking with it a group of more than 40 cyclists.
Rafael Cardenas is a local photographer that shoots images on the Eastside. Check out his work at Eastsiderwriter.com. Kris Fortin contributed to this post.