L.A. River Corp Fundraiser Honoring Mayor Garcetti Draws Gary Ross

Courtesy of Jason Foster, LA River Corp
Gary Ross flanked by L.A. River Corp staff Jessica Brown and Jennifer Samson

"The Hunger Games" helmer was among the attendees at Sunday's event, which raised $130,000 toward a renovation project of the landmark.

Just a few blocks from a section of the long-neglected Los Angeles River, The L.A. River Revitalization Corporation held its annual urban garden party fundraiser on Sunday, Oct. 22, to raise funds to turn the waterway into a vibrant 51-mile city jewel.

The event, held at the L.A. River Center and Gardens near downtown Los Angeles, honored Senator Barbara Boxer and featured special guest L.A. mayor Eric Garcetti. The afternoon brought together a number of Hollywood supporters of the group’s Greenway 2020 project, which would create a continuous corridor of parks, recreation areas and restored natural habitats along all 51 miles of the river, reaching from Canoga Park to Long Beach. Many Angelenos would be surprised to learn that the largely concrete-banked waterway already is connected by 26 miles of bike paths, kayak and fishing areas and green spaces. There are walking trails from the L.A. River Center and Gardens, the headquarters of L.A. River Corp, to the river.

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"I've always seen the beauty and potential of the river, so it's something I'm excited to get involved in," The Hunger Games and Seabiscuit director and new L.A. River Revitalization board member Gary Ross told The Hollywood Reporter. The writer, director and producer has a house along the river, and has had three offices along the river as well. He compared the river project to New York’s completed High Line, which has brought new life and energy to that city’s downtown west side.

Rene Jones, the director of the United Talent Agency Foundation, pointed to the River Corp’s executive director Omar Brownson's leadership as the catalyst of real change coming to the river. "A lot of people are coming to the table to bring connectivity to the city as there has never been before," she told THR. "There's a lot of energy with new mayor [Garcetti]."

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Added The Smurfs franchise producer Jordan Kerner, also a board member: “The unified vision is to have the largest public park in the world. There are many different elements to this project, whether it's nature and restoration or areas of white-water rapids or a large climbing wall." Other guests at the event included actress and board member Daphne Zuniga and The Smurfs director Raja Gosnell.