Saturday, May 30

Westwood Village Block Party brings local businesses closer to students

UCLA and the Westwood Village Improvement Association hosted the first annual UCLA Westwood Village Block Party on Sunday. New students were treated to free samples from Westwood businesses, a roller-skating rink and petting zoo on Broxton Avenue. (Jacob Preal/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Waves of new students entered Westwood Village to roller skate and try food samples at a block party Sunday afternoon.

UCLA and the Westwood Village Improvement Association partnered to host the first annual UCLA Westwood Village Block Party as students moved in over the weekend. Students had access to a roller rink and a petting zoo at the block party, which stretched along Broxton Avenue from the Le Conte Avenue and Weyburn Avenue blocks.

The block party also featured food samples and other free items from Westwood businesses including Jersey Mike’s, Tender Greens, Spireworks and Enzo’s Pizzeria. At 8:30 p.m., event organizers screened “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2″ at the surface parking lot on Broxton Avenue.

UCLA invited all of approximately 10,000 new first-year and transfer students to the event. Many students walked down to Westwood with their on-campus residence floors.

Andrew Thomas, executive director of the association, said they reached out to UCLA officials earlier this year to create an event to encourage students to visit Westwood more often. He added he thinks students often do not have any incentive to explore the Village because there are many shops and restaurants on campus.

“I hope (students) see (Westwood Village) as a place where they can come to,” he said. “I hope they see Westwood Village as the backyard of the university and want to hang out more often.”

Thomas said UCLA helped secure permits for the event, and made the party a campuswide event for incoming students. He added the event organizers asked university and Los Angeles police personnel to patrol the area where the party was occurring as a safety precaution.

Thomas said he thinks the block party will change every year depending on students’ interests and reception to the event.

Josh O’Connor, assistant director of UCLA Office of Residential Life, said ORL wanted to create a fun experience for students with games and other activities during their first week on campus. He added ORL also wanted to encourage students to engage with business owners without making them feel obligated to buy something.

“It was not just ‘come down and buy stuff,’” he said. “We wanted to make sure students had this opportunity to go down to Westwood and really just have a good time.”

Many students said they thought the block party introduced them to the Village and other incoming students.

David Moon, a first-year pre-business economics student, said he thinks the block party was a good opportunity to meet up with friends.

Moon added he shops in many different areas in Los Angeles, but he has not shopped in Westwood before. He said he thinks he will visit Westwood more frequently now that he lives on campus.

Maria Morales, a third-year political science and English student, said she thinks many students already frequently visit the Village for special events like movie premieres and for stores that provide student discounts.

However, Morales added she thinks having a petting zoo and other activities for incoming students during the block party would have encouraged more students to visit the Village while attending UCLA.

Wendy Osorio, a first-year biology student, said the event helped her feel more comfortable with Los Angeles because she does not visit the city often. She added that after attending the block party, she thinks there are a lot of things to do in Westwood.

Lukas Moore, a first-year chemical engineering student, said he thinks the event helped him learn more about Westwood and introduced him to new people.

“(The block party) is a good opportunity for people to explore Westwood and some of the places to eat,” Moore said. “I think it’s (also) a good experience to meet people not on your floor.”

Editor in chief

Preal is the editor in chief of The Bruin. He was previously the assistant news editor for the city and crime beat and a news reporter for the city and crime beat.

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