How many birthday parties has Griffith Park, in all of its chaparral-rustling, breeze-through-the-branches-blowing, rolling-hills-y grandeur, seen over the years?
Surely there've been many, many thousands of celebrations involving cake and streamers at our stately and sizable municipal park, if not millions. But the beloved nature-filled go-to for generations of Southern Californians also has a birthday each year, an historic occasion that falls near the middle of December.
It was, in fact, on Dec. 16, 1896, in fact, that Griffith J. Griffith bequeathed over 3,000 acres to Los Angeles. Yes, long ago this spectacular stretch of land held Mr. Griffith's ostrich farm — you do know your stuff, if you shouted out "ostriches!" — and you surely know that the modern park is now well over 4,000 acres.
But the sixteenth day of the final month of the year is the park's anniversary, even if Mr. Griffith's ostriches no longer hold court there, and there's now a zoo and an observatory and nine gargantuan letters spelling out "Hollywood" and horses and historic trains and hiking trails and a merry-go-round (the very merry-go-round where Walt Disney came up with the idea for Disneyland).
How to properly honor a place that is known by many Angelenos as a primo birthday party spot? With a birthday party, of course. Meet at the Merry-Go-Round Lawn at 3 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 16 for jazzy tunes, some classic Shakespeare in the Park-style dramatics, and a visit from Councilmember David Ryu.
Indeed, one of most free, most fun, and most family-popular spots in all of California (not just LA) is now 120. Griffith Park is still a half decade from its official quasiquicentennial, but we don't have to wait for its 125th to swing by and ride the merry-go-round or explore the trains at Travel Town Museum or watch the sunset from Griffith Observatory.
If we could give Griffith Park's 120th birthday a posh designation, we'd call it the ThankYouGriffithParkfor120yearsoffun-tennial, which doesn't necessarily trip off the tongue but is definitely felt in the hearts of the park's millions of fans.