By Margaret Gill
Long Beach locals are no strangers to the vivid purple flowers of the Jacaranda tree. There are over 6,500 of them throughout the city! For many people, the return of their blooms symbolize summertime, and We Love Long Beach helps neighborhoods organize their very own Jacaranda Fest to celebrate!
We Love LB is a non-profit organization with the goal of building community and encouraging Long Beach residents to get to know their neighbors. They help families create a welcoming and friendly environment in their neighborhoods by providing them with supplies and connections they need to host one of their seasonal block parties.
That’s exactly why Adelita Lopez of Rose Park decided to host a Jacaranda Fest— so that her two young daughters can make friends and feel safe on their block. “Ever since they were little, they’ve both been very outgoing. Because of that, we wanted to get closer as a neighborhood. We wanted to get to know our neighbors and what they’re good at and what they’re interested in.”
With fun games, live performances, and plenty of purple food, Jacaranda Fest is the perfect way to bring people together. And the Lopez family make for perfect hosts since the Jacaranda tree in their yard is a focal point for their neighborhood. “It’s just really beautiful in the summers and it brightens up the place, especially when we have get-togethers under the tree. It’s a bright purple so it just really livens up the place.”
Hosting Jacaranda Fest was an obvious choice for Angie Rebennack’s neighborhood in El Dorado Park South, as well. "We have this mini-grove of trees right in front of the house. It’s a perfect spot.”
Though she and her family live in an active neighborhood that has hosted many block parties in the past, most events have been put on hold the past few years due to the pandemic. “I thought Jacaranda Fest would be a good way to kickstart getting back into social events in the neighborhood,” says Angie. “We’ve missed that personal interaction of getting to really know our neighbors and the kids on our block.”
If you yourself live near a Jacaranda Tree, you know they can some times be a bit of a nuisance. Those beautiful blossoms can make quite a sticky mess when they fall. But, according to Angie, it all depends on your perspective. “I actually love that my yard is purple for a month and a half. I know it’s messy, but I just feel like life is messy,” she says. “It’s like a living example of that life cycle, that things can be really messy and annoying, but also really beautiful, if you choose to look at it that way.”