On Sept. 23, the sixth annual NEXT NIGHT Street Festival gathered an estimated 5,000 people for a joyous, bustling program featuring food trucks, arts-and-crafts, games, live music, schmoozing and more.
The program was held from 4-9 p.m. “This is just pure fun,” NEXT NIGHT Chair Tiffany Davis told the Courier. “It’s just about coming out together and having fun.” Every year, the city’s NEXT NIGHT block party is hosted by the city of Beverly Hills in partnership with its Next Beverly Hills Committee, which is tasked with engaging the next generation of the city’s residents through innovative initiatives.
This year, an array of kids-friendly attractions during the evening-long program included a rock-climbing wall, a face painter, a mini manicure station and Ferris wheel. Additionally, businesses along South Beverly Drive offered unique experiences and promotions throughout the late afternoon and evening. Allowing the little ones to explore their artistic sides, an activation with S. Beverly Drive’s Color Me Mine allowed kids to paint tiles before having them fired in the kiln at the arts-and-crafts studio.
“Thank you to the Next Beverly Hills Committee for organizing another spectacular NEXT NIGHT out,” Mayor Dr. Julian Gold said in a statement. “I love the fact that our next-generation leaders have created an event for the entire community—young, older and everything in between. This was an opportunity for all of us to come to South Beverly Drive to celebrate our community.”
The festival took place on the 200 block of S. Beverly Drive, prompting a full street closure between Charleville Drive and Gregory Way, from 6 p.m., Sept. 22, to 4 a.m., Sept. 24.
The event’s headlining live act, the Legendary Wailers, performed beloved hits by late reggae singer Bob Marley, including “Stir it Up,” “Is This Love” and “Three Little Birds.” The uplifting, sing-along energy of the setlist’s songs provided the perfect soundtrack to get the all-ages crowd boogying during the warm, end-of-summer evening.
Additional musical performers included The Tokens, the doo-wop group known for inescapable classics including “The Lion Sleeps Tonight.” The band’s drummer, Noah Margo, known throughout the Beverly Hills community for his role as president of the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education, is equally impressive behind the drumkit.
DJ Keybo also spun feel-good tunes.
NEXT NIGHT was conceived by Gold during his previous stint as the city’s mayor in 2015. The street festival’s inaugural event was held in 2016. COVID-19-related challenges prompted a two-year hiatus in 2020 and 2021.
“This is his baby,” Davis said, describing the close association between the current mayor and NEXT NIGHT.
Unfortunately, there was one disturbing incident during the event. According to Beverly Hills Police Department (BHPD) Public Information Officer Lt. Reginald Evans, Daniel Luke Cardenas, 43, of Los Angeles, was arrested by BHPD for “holding a sign with a swastika on it while yelling at families with children present, instigating a fight.”
Cardenas was arrested on two separate disturbing the peace charges. He was booked into the BHPD jail and later released with a citation. Video circulating on social media showed him holding up the sign while standing amidst the crowd by the event’s main stage while one of the bands was performing.
While the Next Beverly Hills Committee was launched to address the lifestyle, economic and civic needs of those in their 20s, 30s and 40s, the committee’s members have been pleased to see how its marquee event appeals to families with small children.
“Next Night was a great success again this year bringing all parts of our community together,” Noah Etessami, Chair of Next BH Committee told the Courier.
They hope to expand the event in the future, to perhaps add an additional block of street space while continuing to provide the community with a wholesome evening of feel-good entertainment and