On Feb. 2, a ribbon cutting ceremony marked the official unveiling of the Waite Court activation project, a collaboration between DLBA and artist LaJon Miller in which the formerly dark alleyway was revamped with a new mural and lighting. The project, begun during the previous fiscal year, aligns with a major goal of DLBA, to enhance the beauty and improve the safety of Downtown.
“I am still processing the ribbon cutting event to this day,” said artist LaJon Miller, creator of the three-paneled mural of Koi fish in a pond that now graces Waite Court. “I walk by it all the time and think to myself ‘I did that, I helped make this beautiful place even more beautiful.'”
Max Beach, accomplished industrial designer and an instructor at California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) is also a Member of DLBA’s Placemaking Committee and has been engaged with the Waite Court project from the beginning, “Our intent when we started was to make this darkened alley into a visual experience that connects it with the city,” he said.
Beach expressed hope that the Waite Court activation is the first of many that will combine visual art from local creators with quality lighting and other security measures by the City, highlighting Long Beach’s efforts to be more engaged with the Downtown community. “It’s gratifying to see a once-dark alley become an Instagrammable spot,” he noted.
The City was represented at the event by David Bright, First District Administrative Aide and Business Liaison. “Councilwoman Zendejas believes that using art to placemake communities helps inspire residents to be proud of their neighborhoods,” Bright shared. “Downtown is a vibrant, resilient community and we are happy to find ways to celebrate it.”
Attendees of the event were encouraged to play a fun game, visiting participating Downtown businesses who put their stamp in participants’ “Downtown Passport.” Those who collected four stamps could redeem them for a pint of ice cream from Long Beach Creamery, located directly across Broadway from Waite Court.
“The amazing Koi mural has brought good fortune to those traveling through Waite Court Alley to visit us,” said Dina Amadril, owner of Long Beach Creamery. “The lighting and artwork connect the businesses on Third Street with those on Broadway. I hope to see us working again with DLBA in the future.”
The Waite Court activation is a big win in DLBA’s ongoing efforts to help create a safer and more attractive Downtown. We are looking forward to activating more Downtown spaces with partnerships like this one in the future.