As the New Year rolls in, individuals look to celebrate the passing of another year with fun and festivities.
West Hollywood’s BOOM! 2016 provides people with a fun and safe environment to ring in the New Year, coinciding with the city’s current campaign to prevent drunk driving and alcohol abuse.
“We’re trying to showcase that you can have fun without drugs or alcohol,” said Robert Gamboa, West Hollywood’s prevention coordinator for the Institute for Public Strategies. “The whole premise of this event … is to bring together people who want to have a good time and encourage them to celebrate responsibly.”
The Institute for Public Strategies is one of the primary sponsors of the event along with the city of West Hollywood, the Los Angeles LGBT Center, the Tweakers Project, West Hollywood Project and the West Hollywood Recovery Center.
“The city of West Hollywood has been tremendous in helping coordinate the event,” Gamboa said. “All of our sponsors have been so helpful.”
Together, the sponsors have partnered with other organizations in the city to fund the event and have reached out to businesses in the area to provide catering and other services.
West Hollywood councilmember John Duran said he pushed to make the event an annual celebration as a way to reach out those in West Hollywood who are in recovery from alcohol or substance abuse.
“West Hollywood is known as a big party city,” Duran said. “I initiated this item a few years ago because … there weren’t many options for people to ring in the New Year without alcohol. When we started, we really didn’t know if we’d get even 100 people, but last year we had over 600.”
Duran said the budget for BOOM! 2016 has nearly doubled, and they are expecting a larger crowd than last year. Gamboa said he expects at least 1,000 people to attend.
Dale Griner, one of the event’s promoters who helps with entertainment for BOOM!, said the event is a great communal venture that has grown since its first year.
“It was just a couple of us who got together to create the idea for the event, and we got great support from other organizations who wanted to fund it, including West Hollywood and the [AIDS Project Los Angeles],” Griner said. “We really wanted to provide a fun, hip atmosphere.”
Griner said in addition to entertainment, food and music, BOOM! tries to reach out to people during the event who are struggling with sobriety.
The event caters to multiple groups of people. According to Gamboa, BOOM! is entertaining for any age group, although it is an 18-and-over event. The age requirement, Gamboa said, has to do with liability, but he hopes within the next few years the event will be able to include younger people and families.
“We try to encourage everyone to come out,“ Gamboa said. “Yes, we are West Hollywood and have a big LGBT community, but the event is for everyone. We know that any minority group tends to be marginalized … so we want to bring together different groups of people, and we want them to feel welcome no matter who they are.”
One of the ways BOOM! does this, Gamboa added, is by providing a wide range of entertainment from singers, dancers, drag queens and other performers.
Along with the pageant, there will also be a DJ, dancing, food, games and a traditional New Year’s toast with apple cider.
Some of the traditions will be a little different this year, Gamboa said. Instead of having a Miss Boom competition, there will be a Boom pageant where a king and queen will be crowned.
During New Year’s Eve, West Hollywood will offer a free shuttle service for the first time that will run from Highland Boulevard to Hollywood Boulevard with a stop at the BOOM! event. The shuttle will have a 20-minute cycle and run from 7:30 to 2 a.m.
Duran said that the shuttle service will assist with bringing people to the event as well as preventing drunk driving.
“We want to keep as many people off the roads as possible,” Duran said. “We’re trying out the shuttle service to complement BOOM and make sure everyone has a safe holiday.”
BOOM! 2016 will be held at West Hollywood Park Auditorium at 647 N. San Vicente Blvd on Dec. 31 from 8 p.m.-1 a.m. To R.S.V.P. or volunteer, visit www.lalgbtcenter.org/boom.
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