A Night at DWP Walking Only Light Festival
by Gerry Hans

At 7 pm, Sunday, November 25th, at the DWP “Walking Only” Light Festival, the Zoo parking lot was wide open and there was absolutely no traffic delay on the freeway or getting into the parking area. In fact, “oodles and gobs” of parking was available at the Zoo lots at this time. Also, all of the Autry parking lots were empty, although the attendants directed everyone into the Zoo lot. In contrast, folks parking south of the Festival route reported traffic congestion all the way from Los Feliz Blvd, resulting in a time delay of 25 minutes between 6:30 and 7:30.

Among the families I spoke with was one who had recently moved here from Costa Rica. It was their first experience with the Light Festival and they really enjoyed the Walking concept. When asked if they would prefer “car” or “walking” this family of 6 responded enthusiastically “walking!”, except the baby in the stroller, of course. An elderly lady did NOT know that this year’s festival was “Walking Only.” She expressed frustration because she had no idea if she would be able to locate her car, as she was not sure which parking lot the attendants had directed her to park. The shuttle bus had dropped her off at the south entrance. She was somewhat stressed about the situation.

A young family from Whittier, with girls dressed in their pajamas, walked the Festival. They had not known that it was pedestrian and had expected to be in their cars, hence the pj attire. However, they acknowledged that the “walking was good.” Next year, they will come more appropriately dressed! Two mothers from Huntington Park were walking with their daughters, 3 year old Melanie and 4 year old Alexis. According to Melanie and Alexis, “walking is fun.” A couple that hails from Pasadena commented, “We wish it was like this (walking) more often!” They were attending the Festival with a large gang of people. Knowing what the event was like in previous years, they were pleased with the new walking nights.

A middle aged woman, Monica F., from North Hollywood was experiencing the Festival with her 75 year old mother & 76 year old father who were visiting her from Peru. By the way, this elderly couple had no problem covering the “distance” of the festival. Monica had been doing the Festival for 5 years. She remarked, “Walking is so much better! I can enjoy the festival, too, instead of having to concentrate on my driving!” With a long history of attending the Light Festival, this was Monica’s favorite visit, by far!

Of the many advantages of Walking Only, the ones most often cited by those who I spoke with were:

1. The lights are seen better, and are brighter without the car lights.
2. The music is well heard, without the noise of automobiles.
3. It’s more leisurely and relaxing? you can stop and go at any pace.
4. You are able to stop to take pictures of the family and the lights.

Three women in their 20s rode their bikes from their Silverlake and Atwater residences to Walk the Festival. When asked if they had ever done the Light Festival before, they replied that “No way! Sitting in a traffic jam going through the Festival didn’t sound like any fun.” When told that the Festival may be rid of cars totally in the future, they commented “We’ll sign the Petition!” The women said that the car traffic coming from Los Feliz Blvd was bad, but they zoomed right past everyone since they were on their bikes. They were aware of the one sole night for biking the Festival and suggested that there be more bike nights, too. They also complained that the restriction of bicycling during the vehicular nights at the Festival was unfair and probably unlawful, since bikes are required to follow the same laws as cars.

So what should our goals be for the 2008 edition of the Lights Festival?

WALK ONLY most nights
BIKE ONLY several nights
USE ZOO LOT ONLY for parking

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