So 40,000 people can't be wrong, right? That's how many people are expected to attend next week's 53rd Annual Israel Independence Day Festival. KRLA's Dennis Prager will emcee the festival's official ceremony, and special guests will include Israeli Minister of Transportation Ephraim Sneh (official representative of the Israeli government) and Jerusalem Mayor Ehud Olmert. Yoram Gutman returns as festival director.
Location, location, location -- ostensibly, that's the big difference between this year's Valley-based festival, previously held at Pan Pacific Park. Due to area construction, the festival will be held at Woodley Park in Van Nuys this year.
But according to festival organizers, there is another factor distinguishing this year's event: a focus on the next generation of the Jewish community. For the first time, the festival will offer the Teen Tent Schmooze, where teenagers can congregate and meet with Tel Aviv high schoolers who will be performing on stage. There will also be an area for singles in their 20's and 30's, complete with DJ's spinning records.
And don't forget to drop by the Journal's booth. A festival sponsor, the Journal will offer an art contest and prize raffle.
As in previous years, the festival will feature a variety of children's entertainment and rides, an artists' pavilion, food kiosks, youth activities and sky divers. A "Heritage Pavilion," sponsored by the Consulate General of Israel, will feature a display called "Changes" that will chronicle the timeline of Israel's growth and development through pictures. Among the entertainers taking to the stage this year: Yaffa Yarkoni, Shimi Tavori and Eddie Grimberg & His Orchestra.
While the big idea here is to have fun, Israeli-style, festival chair Chaim Linder told The Journal that for the organizers, there is a deeper subtext beneath the mirth.
"We really want to show the support of Jewish community of L.A. to Israel, especially today when Israel is in such a bind," said Linder. "We view this as our main mission."
The 53rd Annual Israel Independence Day Festival will take place Sun., April 29, 10 a.m -6 p.m at Woodley Park, Woodley Avenue, between Burbank and Victory, Van Nuys. Admission is free, parking $7. For more information or to volunteer, call (818) 757-0123 or (800) 644-9505, or go to www.israelfestival.com