The City of Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services Department;s grand re-opening of Virginia Avenue Park is designed to “salute the creativity and diversity of one of Santa Monica’s most vital neighborhoods with music, dance, arts-and-crafts workshops, food and craft vendors, and a host of family and teen oriented activities,” in the words of a department spokesperson.
After well over a decade of planning and two years of construction, the City will officially reopen the revamped and enlarged park on Sunday, December 4, from noon to 4 p.m. The entire city is, “invited to get a look at the new crown jewel of Santa Monica’s park system,” according to the spokesperson.
The celebration will begin with a ribbon cutting at the corner of Pico and Cloverfield. Park guests will then follow the Santa Monica Police Department Explorer Color Guard and the Santa Monica High School Marching Band through the park to the festival stage.
Emcee Maria Elena Gaitan will preside, and a Cuban band, Maggie Palomo & El Son de Los Angeles, as well as the Tom Nolan Band, the John Adams Middle School Jazz Band, and the Calvary Baptist Church’s Voices of Calvary and Santa Monica College Emeritus Gospel Choir will perform.
A variety of activities will showcase the park’s new features. Santa Monica Museum of Art will host a children’s art workshop in the new Patio Building. Children’s craft workshops will be led by Santa Monica Library staff in the Neighborhood Square.
Grupo Folklórico Herencia Mexicana the park’s youth dance program, and the local Bulgarian band Veselba will perform in the Thelma Terry Building, while Mariachi Voz de America will entertain shoppers at the community and vendor booths.
East Los Streetscapers artist Wayne Healy will be on hand to talk about the park’s new mural, “Our Pico Neighborhood.”
The Virginia Avenue Project will lead youth acting workshops in the Park Center’s Fitness Room I and Police Activities League fitness instructors will give martial art demonstrations in Fitness Room 2, while CREST staff will supervise a variety of outdoor games for youth on the lawn.
The activities in the 2101 Building and adjacent courtyard will focus on the teenage crowd. Artist Joseph “Nuke” Montavlo of UNSK8 will teach teens airbrush and painting techniques as they create a mural on an interior wall of the new teen center. Longtime Virginia Avenue park supporter DJ A-Ski will appear in the 2101 Courtyard, and Pico Youth and Family Center will host a Hip Hop Workshop and contest.
Vendors in the Neighborhood Square and Marketplace will include many Pico merchants, as well as a Food Court.On site parking is very limited. Free parking will be available at Santa Monica College Parking Lot Structures A and C (entrance at Pico Boulevard and 17th Street) where a free shuttle will transport people to and from the Park. For more information, visit the Virginia Avenue Park website at vapark.smgov.net.