Elysian Park Love-in

Elysian Park hosted what many claimed was the city’s first love-in on Easter Sunday in March 1967. Who was there at the “Easter Freakout”and what kind of guy (center) brings a parrot to a love-in?

P.S: Highland Park resident Benjamin Lein, an 11-year-old flower child at the time, was there and found some other Elysian Park Love-in photos. Lein not only attended the love-in but he made an ankh and other props displayed during the event.

Photo from Los Angeles Times/UCLA Library


  1. I was there and photographed it too and my photos are in the Smithsonian. Only problem was that it was 1968 not 1967 as I had my daughter with me and she was born September 15th, 1967. Dates are real important when it is historical.

    • I was there & it was 1968. I remember the 600 LA riot squad beating up everyone & running us off.

    • Lisa Law – I went to the Elysian Park Love in 1967, Easter Sunday. There were a lot of people there, huge. People who remember it well. At that time, no one had ever heard of a love in before, it seemed like a great idea, and it was. i was there with my boyfriend, we took acid (something i had done a very few times at that point), and we saw some other friends there, we still reminisce about it.

      There is no mistake that it was 1967. i was still in high school, i graduated in June that year and took off for Haight Ashbury for the rest of the summer, it was the Summer of Love, 1967. At the time of the love in i went to, Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever were current releases and playing all the time. They had just been released. That was of course, in early 1967. It was the perfect soundtrack for the love in. It was before Sergeant Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band was released. It was kind of an event that launched the hippies in LA into a self conscious culture. It was there before the love in, but the love in was a celebration of people who converged, it was quite wonderful. I don’t remember people calling themselves hippies yet at that point, probably media people were using that term. To us, we were just an unlimitedly diverse group of people who loved the same music and were using drugs that gave a new and idealistic perspective, and there was no real boundary of it. The love in was a huge gathering of people who wanted to be there.

      What i remember, it’s sketchy, but everyone was wandering around smiling, some in groups, some alone, or sitting on the grass, and groups of people were dancing, there was various music playing, little bells tinkling, incense scent, it was very good vibes and definitely the word Love was on most people’s minds and in their hearts and on their lips, Love–Yeah!! that’s where it’s at. It was an evolving subculture at its birth.

      it was truly extraordinary, a first time experience for everybody, which in itself was mind altering. Nothing like that had ever happened before. . Such an idealistic feeling, utopian even, especially being within a couple of weeks of turning 18 and being on LSD, it seemed like a whole new world was being born and it was a good one, about happiness and love, about seeing through the “plastic” quality of things that the old world took seriously. Seeing a whole new better way of being. that was the vibe of the Elysian Park Love In in 1967, easter.

      I don’t remember exactly, was not wearing a watch but from where the sun was in the sky, getting lower, it seemed like kind of afternoon or late afternoon that the LAPD came, and they came all dressed up like military in their big high boots, wearing helmets and guns, and carrying big sticks, they had uptight faces on, and they were telling people it was time to leave. The general head trip of the people there was very mellow and, well, loving, and i remember how incongruous it felt for those combat ready police to be walking through the non-organized groups of lightly and colorfully clad people wearing beads and flowers and feathers, and carrying little bells and puppies and stuff like that, with happy music and dancing, and thinking and talking and singing about Love.

      as far as i saw, no problems going on there, and when police officers approached the area where i was standing with my boyfriend, by then we were starting to come down from the acid, we understood that they were telling people to leave and our heads were in this love place, not a place of conflict, and we started moving in the direction the police were herding people, and i was not moving fast enough i think, and a police officer pushed the end of his club against me to move me faster, shoving me, it did not hurt, but it was so weird , i felt sorry for people like the police because they seemed so unhappy, and about nothing, no reason to be unhappy about Love, and then we left and i don’t remember anything after that.

      i vaguely remember that there was another Love In later, and it very well could have been in 1968, i know it was after i moved back to LA from Haight Ashbury in Fall of 1967 so my boyfriend could go to Valley State college, and if you say it was 1968, i definitely believe you. Why do you think that means there was not also a love in in 1967?

      Anyway, fyi, there was very definitely the first LA Love in in early spring of 1967 and as i said, there were a lot people there and they are still around to remember it, and as you say, dates are important to tracking history, that’s what history is, a kind of timeline, and the 1967 love in was very very important historically, to the evolution of the counterculture and its wider influences.

      Haight Ashbury that summer was like an all summer long unending LA Elysian park love in. it looked the same but it didn’t end. And the cops who walked the beat on Haight Street every day were mellow, just two of them, wearing nonthreatening traditional police uniforms. People were selling grass and acid all up and down Haight Street every da. The city of San Francisco was just letting it be, It was so easy to believe that this was how the world would be now, why would anyone turn back from this? of course, for very young people like me, i didn’t spend much time thinking about how it was paid for, i got a warm pre-owned blanket that Diggers Free Store and went to the Free Clinic once. We panhandled for spare change, to buy Wonder Bread and Twinkies and Fish and chips. Lots of tourists on Haight Street liked being panhandled by cute little hippies. my boyfriend invested a quantity of acid and we sold that on Haight street, to pay a share of the rent for an apartment on the corner of Lyon and Haight, which was a crash pad with people coming and going. i slept on the fire escape, it was so awesome, watching the fog roll in at about 5am, just right across the street, a big bank of it, and smoke joint, rapped up in my soft brown blanket and fall asleep with Coltrane’s Bold As Love playing in the background.

      • Yep that’s EXACTLY when and how I remember it as well. I was a junior in high school (I graduated in 68′). I was there with my bids and girlfriend, Seemed like EVERYONE was getting high and havin’ FUN! WE were. So there we are. Canned Heat is KILLING IT and then her comes the Gestapo, scaring the CRAP out of everybody and ruining a beautiful thing.
        Talk about a BUMMER ending.

    • You’re correct Lisa as it was 1968 and I was recording off the mixer and was standing next to Carlos Santana pleading with a LAPD Sergeant not to smash up our expensive Acustic Sound System!
      If he hadn’t stepped up when he did, we would have lost 100k in equipment because the rookies wanted to smash it!
      I recorded the entire concert but it was later stolen by one of our stage crew members when he said he would copy it and return the original to me.
      Art from the Free Clinic also wanted my tape to prove that LAPD started the rioting, but my Sheriff roommate told me that LAPD would get even with me with consequences I would not like!
      I would love to see your photos if you could direct me to a site or email me at Daviddessecker@msn.com

  2. I was there and it was lovely.

  3. Sorry Lisa, but you may have pictures in the Smithsonian but if they’re dated as you say then they are not correct if they are truly from the Easter Love-In Elysian Park on March 26, 1967. I played at it with my band, the Peanut Butter Conspiracy, have the poster and know for sure it was in 1967. It was great fun and was attended by not only hippies but many curious first-timers that wanted to experience what was happening. I wish those feelings could come back again!

    • Lisa, et al: There were subsequent Easter Sunday love ins at Elysian Park, so your pictures are probably correctly dated; you just weren’t at the “first” LA love-in. I was there in ’69 in fact, I think . . . LA Police in full riot gear broke it up just after luinch time.

      • My memory is saying 1968 as I was in the military & discharged Nov 1967. Yes LA’s 600 riot squad came in on busses & swinging their batons. They kicked us out of the park by force. The news accounts that evening were so misreported it changed my belief in our news from then on.

    • Hi Alan! You knew me as Sherrill Lewis, back in the day, and I did the photo for the back cover of your album. I am about to launch my website of photos from those days, and you might be interested. I also have two FaceBook pages Sulfiati Magnuson Photography and Sulfiati Magnuson Theater Photography. I’m not sure I still have the old filmstrips from the photo shoot I did of you guys, but I’ll take a look. Best wishes!

      That was on your first sticker.

      No one who was not there can understand the vibe of that incredible Sunday of 3/26/67. Everything went perfectly, all the way to the parachutes that landed and all the incense and the people who shared everything. One of the greatest days of my youth. A few week later was the Anti-War Mobilization in San Francisco, marching down Market St. amongst almost countless bands flat bad slat, sound trucks, the Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, Country Joe, thru though Fillmore to Kear Stadium at which point I was so stoned, I can’t remember what happened next. We got home, finished H.S. and that weekend was another almost as good Love-in, at Crystal Strings by the Marry Go Round in Griffith Part and only a few days later, back up North to Monterrey Pop! Wow…Almost 50 years ago ..

    • Chuck Marchese

      Hey Alan, I saw your comment and had to jump in and say Hi. I used to see the PBC at the Flying Jib in Hermosa Beach back in the sixties. I was drummer in the West Coast Branch then and we were the house band there for a few years. Great re-living the love of the sixties again. We were so lucky.

    • THAT’S RIGHT!!!!
      I REMEMBER the Peanut Butter Conspiracy now, mostly because peanut butter was my favorite thing to eat then because I was REALLY high at the time.

  4. I can’t remember if it was 67 or 68 but I remember it well. I was there with Stanley Fafara who you might remember is whitey from leave it to beaver. The riot apparently started when the police yanked off a shirt a girl was wearing. From there it was all downhill. We ran up the side of a hill to get out of the way and watched as the police pushed everybody out of the park. We got out of there and went back home to Toluca lake glad we didn’t get in the. middle of it all.

  5. i was the emcee at the 1971 easter sunday love-in which resulted in a police riot…….i was working with green power at the time focalizing the love-ins….
    we billed the 1971 gig as a 2 day free fest in the park…..people came from all over to partake in the event…..
    the lapd had their own agenda-an oppression fest to culminate in a 2 pm dispersal which was a total mess…..

  6. Here’s all the pictures I took that day in no particular order.
    As I remember things were going fine til the cops took the stage and announced in front of an estimated 10,000 people “This has been declaired an illegal assembly, you all have 10 minutes to leave or you will be arrested!” Then they assembled into a line stretching accross the stage area and waited. At 10 minutes they started marching. I shot until I ran out of film.

    • Thanks for sharing these pictures! I was a teenager at the time and went to the sunrise service and concert with my mom and family. My mom was a hippie so we always went to great concerts. But this day was complete pandemonium once the riots broke out! I’ll never forget being so scared and running my ass off to get out of the park!

  7. I was there at the ’71 festival and remember well the LAPD breaking it up on Easter Sunday. I guess also because they could not stand the idea that we were in “their” backyard of the Police Academy right there in Elysian Park. I’ve been looking for the photo of me in my fathers Army coat that was on the cover of the LA Free Press the following week to show my daughter.

  8. You guys are a little foggy in your memories from 1968!
    There might have been a 1967 concert, but I was on stage with Carlos Santana working with KTC sound systems the summer of 1968 when we were busted by LAPD.
    I recorded the entire concert and had the proof that LAPD started the riot as a crowd control exercise.

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