To help celebrate UCLA’s final day as a 99-year-old, some of Los Angeles’ most famous landmarks — stretching from City Hall to Los Angeles International Airport — were illuminated in blue and gold, becoming symbols of Bruin spirit.
Leading up to the nighttime visuals, UCLA threw a birthday party open to all Los Angeles residents in downtown’s Grand Park. Beginning around 6:30 p.m., people gathered to enjoy performances by KCRW DJ Jason Bentley and the UCLA Bruin Marching Band, all while enjoying bites from top local food trucks. UCLA alumna and ESPN SportsCenter anchor Cari Champion served as the evening’s emcee.
“What happens at UCLA is … you walk on that campus, you have these ideas, and you have these dreams and visions and they really are fertilized — if you will — there,” Champion said. “You start to have friends that help you build and live this dream. I am so grateful to see where we are today. This is huge.… For you to be here and mark history is amazing.”
Champion also introduced Chancellor Gene Block, who proudly pointed out that about a third of UCLA graduates are the first in their families to receive a college degree and emphasized the connection between UCLA and the city.
“We have never forgotten that we are a public university,” Block said. “We are dedicated to the city. We love being here. It has made UCLA what it is being in Los Angeles.”
The festivities also marked the debut of the UCLA 100 Airstream, a mobile video studio where guests can record their reminiscences of their favorite UCLA memories. (The first 250 guests received a free limited-edition UCLA 100 enamel pin.)
Shortly before 8 p.m., NBA Hall of Famer and UCLA alumnus Kareem Abdul-Jabbar led the crowd in a countdown to the moment that City Hall became a blue and gold beacon on the downtown skyline. The Wilshire Grand and the Grand Park fountains, as well as the famous pylons outside of LAX, were also illuminated in UCLA’s signature colors, while outdoor video screens throughout L.A. Live and on Staples Center showed the UCLA 100 logo.
The evening’s festivities were a fitting coda to a day proclaimed by the Los Angeles City Council as UCLA Day.
UCLA will proudly recognize its prominent role in the city’s civic life throughout the year at a dozen major events. Among them are the LA Pride Parade on June 9 and the CicLAvia open streets event on Oct. 6. On Aug. 31, in partnership with Levitt Pavilion, UCLA will present a free public concert in MacArthur Park by internationally renowned cumbia group La Sonora Dinamita. Sept. 29 brings “UCLA Community Classroom: Exploring Today’s Big Ideas” at the Row complex in downtown Los Angeles.
The campus also will embark on four initiatives exclusive to the centennial year that are designed to expand public access to UCLA’s scholarly resources and build upon its longstanding commitment of service to the community. Each will be a collaboration among multiple departments, centers, institutes and community groups. More programs and events will be added throughout the 2019–20 academic year.