There are few people in the San Fernando Valley who ride harder for the 818 than Hector Perez Roman, the host of Valley Views—a radio show that airs on Thursdays at 7 p.m. and on Sundays at 10 a.m. on KROJ 101.5 FM. It tracks, then, that the community came out in droves to the KROJ Benefit Concert, largely organized by Perez Roman. 

The concert took place on Aug. 11, 2023, at the American Legion in San Fernando and ran 6 p.m.-midnight. The star-studded event welcomed folks from all across the Valley. We sang, we danced, we watched live performances, and—honestly—we had a grand old time. 

Even though the benefit happened more than two months ago, we’re still thinking of it. Here’s why.

Local celebrities attended the KROJ Concert Benefit

Like the Ritchie Valens family

It’s no secret that the Valley—particularly Pacoima—goes hard when it comes to our hometown star Ritchie Valens. That being said, you can imagine the energy when his family showed up to KROJ’s benefit concert. 

“It was incredible to celebrate with the legendary Ritchie Valens family who came out,” says Perez Roman. “Michelle, Ernie, Rosie Morales, and just everybody from the community that showed up.”

The family of Ritchie Valens is interviewed at the KROJ benefit concert
The family of Ritchie Valens is seated at the KROJ benefit concert

Muralist Levi Ponce was also at the KROJ benefit concert

Local muralist Levi Ponce, who’s painted many iconic Valley murals—like the one of Danny Trejo in Pacoima—was also in attendance.

In fact, he put his God-given skills to charitable use by painting a soon-to-be-auctioned portrait of Ritchie Valens… on the spot! While the starting bid was $10, the second bid—which was placed once Ponce had painted a little less than half of the portrait—shot up to $250.

The portrait eventually sold for $1,205 (!!!) and all proceeds went to KROJ. It was truly a pleasure to see Ponce in his element—we even posted an Instagram Story about how it made us so proud to be from the San Fernando Valley.

Muralist Levi Ponce painting a portrait of Ritchie Valens at the KROJ benefit concert
Bidding list for Levi Ponce's portrait at the KROJ benefit concert

But, ultimately, the community is who showed up and showed out

While the heavy-hitting Valley celebs were most definitely present, it was the community that made the KROJ concert benefit as beautiful as it was. 

For instance, Danrochelle D. Yumul, the founder and editor of a website called Meet The (818), was a media sponsor. Daisy Tornel of Cafecito con Daisy took the red carpet by storm, interviewing all the special guests in front of the step-and-repeat.

One of my favorite highlights, however, was getting to see the souped-up vintage cars and bicycles.

It was particularly entrancing when those vehicles served as the backdrop for a fashion show that was meant to uplift the San Fernando Valley through stylish garments. Each outfit modeled a distinct neighborhood in the 818. 

Another great part of the night was seeing how the Valley rallied behind our creative children. The kids put on a show, y’all—and not only their parents thought that. Once you scroll through the photos below, you’ll know we’re not exaggerating. 

The children danced salsa, hip hop, cumbia, and even did a little bit of belly dancing. It was a sight to behold and it made us feel like the Valley will always be alright.

For the record, Perez Roman couldn’t be more delighted with the fruits of his labor. “It was amazing to also see the diversity of our Valley represented,” he tells Viva the Valley. “From musical artists to the dancers and the magic show, that night was incredible.” (And that’s exactly why it lives in our minds rent-free.)

Author

As a writer and first-generation Mexican American born and raised in the San Fernando Valley, I'm passionate about celebrating the communities in the 818. That passion fueled the founding of Viva the Valley in November 2020 and it continues to fuel its upkeeping. Full time, I'm a writer and editor at California State University, Northridge. I also am a freelancer and work with editors at websites and magazines as well as small business owners who want to share more on their business blogs.

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