Long Beach's Bixby Knolls district rocked out Wednesday -- quite literally. Its rock/block party for the Los Angeles County Museum of Art's 340-ton boulder was a big success.
The event, which started at noon, had already drawn 15,000 to 20,000 people as of 4 p.m., said Michael Clements, who is Councilman James Johnson's chief of staff.
"This is like First Fridays, but relocated down the street," Clements said, referring to the community's monthly art, music and shopping showcase. "Bixby Knolls is the center of the arts community for Long Beach, and we wanted to celebrate it."
The carnival-like atmosphere included sidewalk musicians, pop-up art installations and crafts for kids such as -- not surprisingly -- rock painting. Street artists painted wildly different renditions of the rock and its custom bright red transporter. The boulder eventually will be the centerpiece of Michael Heizer's outdoor sculpture "Levitated Mass" at LACMA.
One highlight was a more than 10-foot-high stilt walker, dressed as a Swiss mountain climber. As he lumbered down the sidewalk, towering over the crowd of rock rubberneckers, he bellowed: "I am Klaus. And I think the rock is not so tall!"
The much-publicized boulder, resting in a steel sling on its 200-foot transporter, enjoyed a prime parking spot smack in the middle of Atlantic Avenue. Gawkers streamed by on both sides of the street, snapping pictures and shooting video.
Businesses such as the Bake n Broil on Atlantic were appreciatively swamped. Hostess Brooke Lapierre said foot traffic today was "ridiculously crazy."
"I would've made them a rock for $1 million," he said.
Emmert International, the company handling transportation of the boulder,
said everything was on schedule for the monolith to take off at 10 p.m. Wednesday. It will travel on Atlantic, then Ocean Boulevard, and it will cross the L.A. River on a bridge at Pacific Coast Highway. It is slated to arrive at LACMA early Saturday morning.
Culture Monster will be riding with the rock caravan, live tweeting throughout Wednesday night and Thursday morning. Follow the tweets here.
-- Deborah Vankin
Photo: Block party participants dance on the sidewalk in front of the LACMA rock in Bixby Knolls in Long Beach. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times