Saturday was a chilly night for sleeping under the stars. Add in a near-constant stream of rain and it sounds downright miserable.
For people headed to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena to do just that, though, the gloomy forecast served its purpose.
As part of the World’s Big Sleep Out, a campaign to end homelessness, armed with sleeping bags and tarps, around 100 people slept in the rough with little cover at the Rose Bowl Stadium on Saturday night. Organizers hoped that taking part would help people realize that nearly 60,000 people in Los Angeles County and 150 million others worldwide sleep just like that nightly, no matter the weather.
More than 50,000 people in 60 cities around the world, from London to Hong Kong, took on the challenge with the goal of raising $50 million.
As he was laying out his sleeping bag, participant Toshi Yoza of Highland Park was not put off by braving the elements.
“It’s pretty well covered here, so I have no concerns,” he said. “I see homeless people with no cover every morning on the way to work.”
Before they hit their pillows inside the stadium, participants — joined by another 100 who didn’t spend the night — were treated to performances by Ziggy Marley, Ellie Goulding, Meghan Trainor, Sean Kingston, Randy Jackson and others from a stage set up in the parking lot.
Riverside resident Liz Du Bruille, who came for the music, said she would have loved to sleep outside.
“Most working class people we know who are our age, a lot of us are one check away from being in the same position. So it’s important to remember that and stay humble,” she said.
Her friend, Meghan Kirby, agreed.
“We should bring awareness of what everybody else goes through out there every single night, rain or shine,” she said.
Jackson also reflected on the homelessness crisis is in L.A.: “I think it’s amazing to raise awareness …. to help this problem that is just crazy in L.A. And it’s a world epidemic.”
State Sen. Anthony Portantino presented a certificate on behalf of the State Senate to event co-sponsor Charity on Top.
“To have all these folks out in the rain, sleeping out tonight, givin’ it back, trying to say homelessness matters …. and Pasadena is doing its part, it’s great,” he said. “We all can make a difference and tonight we’re showin’ it.”
No sleepover would be complete without a lullaby and a bedtime story, though. Goulding serenaded the audience with a soothing version of “Hallelujah,” while comedian Seth Green took charge of the bedtime story with the classic, “Goodnight Moon.”
Participants were also encouraged to raise funds for the cause by setting up their own donation pages. Half the funds went to such charities as UNICEF USA and the Malala Fund, while the other half went to local organizations, including the Downtown Women’s Center and United Way of Greater Los Angeles.
World’s Big Sleep Out founder Josh Littlejohn said in addition to raising funds, the event was aimed to “send a message to the world’s political leaders to enact compassionate policy and find solutions for homelessness locally and the global refugee crisis that affects us all.”