It was the best worst-kept secret at East Beach on Thursday night. As REO Speedwagon band members warmed up to play at a private party, a group of enterprising locals set up shop to listen to the music.
On Wednesday, a huge set-up involving a large stage and several faux buildings started to go up on East Beach, directly across from the Chromatic Gate. Crews worked to create an elaborate faux fishing village for Thursday night’s party, sponsored by oil company Citgo.
As the sun set Thursday, a host of security guards — though friendly enough — gently kept the public out of the fenced party area reserved for Citgo officials and guests.
The company hosted the private party, and servers manned elaborate individual stations for food and alcohol as the waves washed over the sand yards away.
But many locals didn’t need an invite to enjoy the festivities.
Just feet from the fence separating the private party from the public beach, Jeanette McMillian and Alice Roderick were sitting in their lawn chairs waiting for the music to start.
“It’s nice of them to throw this party for us,” McMillian said with a giggle.
The pair brought their dinner to the beach to enjoy before the music started.
“We catered our own event,” she said, holding up a foil-wrapped sub sandwich with a smile.
Roderick’s fiance, Ben Rios, also stopped by, carrying a photo of the band he was hoping to have signed.
Rios said he’s a huge fan of the band and saw them at the Ventura County Fair last year.
As Rios approached a band member for a photo, more locals were arriving with their lawn chairs, taking in the pastel dusk over the ocean while waiting for the music to start.