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Parties go off without a hitch

January 01, 2007|Kevin Bronson and Rebecca Trounson | Times Staff Writers

A year after rain prompted the last-minute cancellation of two major celebrations, disappointing thousands of fans, New Year's Eve concerts and parties across the Southland got underway Sunday without reports of problems.

Event promoters, eager to avoid the troubles of 2006, planned this year's gatherings with wet-weather backup arrangements, including tents and indoor alternatives. But by 9 p.m. Sunday, as fans began arriving for half a dozen major events from Hollywood to Orange County, the contingency plans remained just that, with clear, crisp weather prevailing.

At the Gridlock LA event at Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood, promoters said they were expecting a capacity crowd of 6,000 in ticketed and invited guests. By 9 p.m., a line of several hundred waited outside the Melrose Avenue studios to buy walk-up tickets to the event, featuring a live performance by the popular Las Vegas rockers the Killers.

For Robert and Marlene Mills of Glendora, ringing in 2007 on the Paramount lot seemed distinctive. "We were looking for something different to do," said Robert Mills, who was not discouraged by the $125 price tag per ticket. "We had enough left after Christmas to do something nice."

"I had two girls on my hands and this seemed like the best party for the evening," said Nathan Greno of Glendale, who was visiting with Meredith Mauze, also of Glendale, and Rylee Moritz of Baton Rouge, La.

The scene was far different a year ago, when organizers abruptly canceled two massive open-air events, Giant Village in downtown Los Angeles and Gridlock LA at Paramount Pictures Studios in Hollywood. Thousands of were left scrambling to make alternate plans.

Giant's street festival had been expected to draw as many as 15,000 revelers to a six-block stretch of downtown, but was called off New Year's Eve afternoon after a rainstorm soaked much of Southern California.

Organizers said they canceled the festival because of safety concerns, but would-be concertgoers, many of whom arrived after the storm subsided, voiced anger and confusion. The event, then in its sixth year, was to have included 15 performers, including headliners the Black Eyed Peas.

There were big expectations from partygoers at this year's Giant Maximus event in downtown L.A.

Eric Vando, 30, of San Diego said he has attended every Giant downtown New Year's Eve event for the last five years. He was here last Dec. 31, only to be turned away. "At first, everybody thought they weren't going to get their money back, but a month later they got their money back," he said.

Why did he come back? "Because they have the best DJs. I basically follow the DJs," Vando said.

Meanwhile, at the USC Galen Center, things were heating up for a concert by the Flaming Lips and Gnarls Barkley.

Alex Rose, 27, a Venice Beach resident, is a toymaker. But last night he wanted to party -- and dressed for it, with gold antennae on his head and a hot pink shirt, black blazer, cowboy boots and chains around his neck.

"This is going to be the biggest party in North America," he said. "Every Flaming Lips concert is like a New Year's Eve party, so with this being on New Year's Eve, it's going to be the best."

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kevin.bronson@latimes.com

rebecca.trounson@latimes.com

Times special correspondents Rich Kane, Justin Hampton, Andrew Asch and Scott Sandell contributed to this report.

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