Students and neighbors volunteer together at Studio City Luminaria festival


Eleanor Levy, daughter of Director of Community and Public Affairs Stacy Marble, waves from the middle of the monument. Eleanor helped the seven student volunteers set up the Studio City Luminaria. Photo credit: Stacy Marble

Saba Nia

Seven students set up lanterns for the Studio City Neighborhood Council’s seventh annual Luminaria at the historical park Campo de Cahuenga on Saturday.

The volunteers filled 3,000 to 4,000 paper bags with weights and lights and arranged them along the perimeter of the monument, which commemorates the location where Americans and Mexicans signed the treaty that brought California into the Union.

“I enjoyed the experience because it felt really special to help out in this community,” volunteer Lauren Witmer ’19 said. “I felt tied to this project because it’s so attached to our history and to our city.”

Raleigh Harris ’20 and Eleanor Levy set up paper bag lanterns along the foundation of the historic Campo. Photo credit: Stacy Marble

Chair of Cultural Affairs Committee Richard Niederberg said he appreciated the students, who aided the other Board Members of the Neighborhood Council in preparing the site, and that it’s important that members of the school community and neighborhood were able to work together.

After helping set up the event, council members invited the student volunteers to join other community members and attend the Luminaria, which took place Sunday. In addition to the Luminaria display, guests enjoyed live entertainment from a band, choir, bell ringers, guitarist and Flamenco dancer, in addition to refreshments.

Tanisha Gunby ’21 and Lauren Witmer ’19 arrange the lights inside of the lanterns. Along with the other volunteers, they set up about 4,000 lanterns for the Luminaria. Photo credit: Stacy Marble

Organizers said it’s important that members of the community continue to attend the event.

“I think that they’ll enjoy the show, and also they’ll pick up some history along the way as to why we’re here [and] how we got here,” Niederberg said. “You have to know where you came from to know where you’re going.”

Niederberg also said that he plans on working with Harvard-Westlake students for future outreach opportunities and was pleased by the turnout of students volunteers this year.

Students said they also enjoyed their volunteering experience.

“It’s really important to volunteer because it’s such a great way to positively impact people, and to brighten others’ lives,” Witmer said. “Making others happy makes you happy, you know?”

Students joined members of the Studio City Neighborhood Council in setting up thousands of Luminaria lanterns. Photo credit: Stacy Marble