A new staple in the neighborhood, the Boyle Heights Youth Festival is an annual block party organized and produced by youth for youth. Now in its third year, the yearly gathering has helped hundreds of youth learn how to plan events from the ground up.

Dozens of families came together Saturday afternoon for this year’s festival, held in a closed-off section of First Street near Chicago Street. Rows of various youth-oriented organizations staffed tables at the event, offering attendees opportunities to get involved in the community. Youth of all ages engaged in fun activities, from rock-climbing and bungee jumping to skating and drumming.

Performers and artists took to the stage throughout the event, filling First Street with music and dance. Volunteers from the Hungry Hog & Starvin’ Steer cooked and served free, fresh hot dogs as youth paleteros drove around carts handing out free, cold fruit bars from El Paraíso Ice Cream Shop.

The day was planned over the course of the last three months by youth volunteers who attended weekly meetings to handle event logistics, promotion and marketing. From reaching out to community organizations to securing funding for the festival, these volunteers learned how to give back to their neighborhood while developing an array of important skills.

Youth organizers and planners of the event were presented with certificates from the City of Los Angeles as Saturday’s event winded down. Sponsors and supporters of the annual event include Alma Family Services, Councilmember José Huízar, Homeboy Industries, Jóvenes Inc, the Boyle Heights Arts Conservatory, the LAPD Hollenbeck station, and the Boyle Heights Neighborhood Council.

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