The Dead rises at Kennedy Plaza


Long Beach welcomed the return of “Friday Nights in the Plaza” June 7 at Kennedy Plaza, featuring a performance by Half Step, a Grateful Dead tribute band. The event marked the start of the summer series.

“We strive to create opportunities right here in our hometown,” director of Artists in Partnership Johanna Mathieson said. “Where friends, neighbors, and strangers can come together, leave the work week behind, share their love of music and the arts, create memories and just relax on a blanket or chair.”

Kennedy Plaza was transformed into its version of “Shakedown Street,” allowing shoppers to explore unique creations from Arts in the Plaza’s artist vendors, who set up tables and tents for the evening.

The event drew a very large and appreciative crowd, according to Johanna Mathieson, director of Artists in Partnership.

“Tie-Dye was in abundance,” Mathieson said. “Energy levels were high and the feeling of community coming together to enjoy the beautiful weather, engage in conversation and to dance and groove to the sounds filling the summer air.”

City officials and CSEA staff were present to launch the event, ensuring everything ran smoothly. Children gathered around an art table to decorate wooden bear ornaments, paying homage to Owsley “Bear” Stanley’s iconic dancing bears. Shoppers explored original creations from Arts in the Plaza’s artist vendors, who set up tables and tents for the evening.

By providing a platform for a variety of artists, the event aligns with the missions of Artists in Partnership and Arts In The Plaza, both of which are dedicated to increasing the visibility of the arts in the city.

As the organization’s events continue to grow, special recognition is due to former Assemblyman Harvey Weisenberg, who has been a long-time supporter of Artists in Partnership and the many programs it produces. Weisenberg is the “platinum” sponsor for the year.

“We are incredibly grateful to Harvey Weisenberg for his continued support. It’s this kind of backing that allows us to bring free programs to the community, benefiting everyone,” Mathieson said.

Another “Friday Night in the Plaza” is scheduled for Aug. 2 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. Further event details are expected to be announced soon. To stay updated on this and other events hosted by Artists in Partnership throughout the summer, visit