Photos: Bill Clinton, Stevie Wonder & Placido Domingo Celebrate L.A.
Every year the city hosts Celebrate L.A. as a salute to the city's diversity, but this year was a little different. The guest list was flashier. It wasn't just local pols—Bill Clinton made an appearance alongside Placido Domingo, Stevie Wonder, Wanda Sykes, Pepe Aguilar while Ryan Seacrest served as the MC. And the festivities became a sort of de facto farewell to Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa.
Clinton praised the mayor's 8-year tenure, and the mayor himself praised affirmative action programs that he said allowed the one-time high school dropout to attend UCLA. Villaraigosa told the crowd, "I want to thank you for the honor you gave me of being your mayor. This has been an opportunity of a lifetime."
The free block party that brought out thousands of Angelenos wasn't uncontroversial. Most of the money was put up by private donors, but some media outlets (notably the LA Weekly and Los Angeles Daily News) criticized the city using $75,000 in taxpayer money for what they considered a vain going-away party for the mayor. However, Streetsblog praised the event for doing something rare: bringing the city together.