Maybe they should have made it bigger.
So many people showed up Saturday for the grand opening of the Lawndale Community Center that the main event room reached its 264-person limit before the ceremony even started.
Organizers soon opened up the balcony - still wet from a morning rain - for the overflow, but that wasn't enough. Finally, the doors had to be closed and late arrivals turned away from the ribbon cutting and speeches by proud city officials.
But they had plenty of other things to see in the sprawling new complex at 14700 Burin Ave. in the city's civic center: There were the conference rooms, kitchens and fitness center. There's also a computer lab and a dance room with wooden floors and mirrors on the walls.
City Manager Steve Mandoki said he was impressed with the size of the crowd.
"It shows the pride of the citizens in our city," he said. "This turnout is very nice."
The 41,000-square-foot structure cost about $12million, which was paid for with a bond measure approved with 76 percent of the vote in 2008.
The bottom of the three-story building is for parking, while the top two floors feature seemingly endless places to gather. It is many times larger than the old community center, which was replaced by a county library.
"It's a beautiful day, an exciting day," said Mayor Harold Hofmann. "Whatever you want to call it, we're blessed."
Hofmann said he has been following the construction of the center for years.
"It's nicer and more elaborate than I thought. Every time I come here, I'm amazed."
Residents said they felt proud at what the city accomplished.
"It's very good, especially the fitness room," said Rigo Navarro, a 25-year Lawndale resident. "I'm glad that with all the cutting from government they were able to finish it."
For 82-year-old Robert Tomlinson, the new center is the city's crown jewel.
"It's beautiful," he said. "It's really something for Lawndale."