An estimated 12,000 Persians are expected to gather on Sunday at the edge of Lake Balboa to celebrate the Persian New Year, also known as the 3,000-year-old Nowruz festival.
The annual celebration will feature Persian food, vendors, and music from 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. There will also be performances by famous music artists, including Farshid Amin, Susan Roshan, DJ Tarneh and Hasan Shamaiezadeh.
For nearly 10 years, Lake Balboa has become a popular place to celebrate Nowruz, with a fenced-off area for the event at the south end of the lake. The Persian festival of “joy and solidarity,” is traditionally celebrated outdoors on the 13th day of the Persian New Year. It is believed that joy and laughter clean the mind from all evil thoughts.
The park is located east of Balboa Boulevard between Victory and Balboa boulevards. Normal traffic and parking will be impacted, and regular park goers will have slightly restricted access to the public grounds.
There is parking off of Woodley Avenue and Balboa Boulevard opposite the park entrance. An event flier said more than 5,000 parking spaces will be available at two public parking lots on both sides of the park, where parking will cost $5 per car and transit buses will take park goers to the ticket booths located on park grounds.
Local residents opposed to the festival argue that no public notification was given and that the environmental review of this event did not include public input. They voiced their concerns to the Army Corps of Engineers, which owns the parkland in the Sepulveda Basin.
“I am especially concerned about the opening of a new parking area in the old Corn Maze field, adjacent to the Sepulveda Basin Wildlife Reserve for this event,” Muriel Kotin, the San Fernando Valley Audubon’s representative, told the corps in an email. “This may have significant impacts on the wildlife reserve.”
According to the official event permit from the city (see attached), the festival must provide “unobstructed access to the cricket fields, the wildlife area, archery range and golf course.”
Admission for adults is $15; there is no fee for children under 36 inches.
“Looking at this as a Persian, the admission fees are outrageous as this is a family event. For a family of four, it will cost $65 to get into the park. This does not include meals,” said Kathy Moghimi-Patterson, who sits on the Encino Neighborhood Council.
However, many of the estimated 350,000 Iranians in Los Angeles are expected to attend the local celebration. City officials are also planning to support the event.