Dennis’ Tidbits


March 9, 2018

Air quality makes seeing Catalina Island a breeze this week

I’m sitting here at Main Beach at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday and we’ve had an incredible run of Catalina and San Clemente Island being in full view all day. This is the eighth consecutive day that we’ve had that kind of air quality. There must be some kind of mixing of the atmosphere to instigate this incredibly clear visibility. There were times back in the smog era, where you were lucky to see Catalina a dozen times in one year. 

In fact, getting off track, in 1965, I was a senior in high school on the cross country team, and we were in the final meet up at Mount Sac near Pomona. There  were 70 runners and only 12, including myself, made it through the 3.45-mile run. Ten of them had to be hospitalized because of the smog. So things have improved vastly. Of course, we’re talking 52 years ago. Anyhow, there is an improvement in the air quality.

And of course it waits ‘til March to rain but we had a little bit Saturday, and thank God it stopped right when our parade started, or else I would have been run out of town. We have a chance of precipitation this Saturday and again next Tuesday, finally, but we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Our average March rainfall is about 2.5 inches. Our wettest March on record was 10.40 inches in 1983, fueled by a mega El Nino. Now on our season, we’re barely over three inches since last July 1, and normal to date is 11.5. Once you get into April, that rain machine really shuts down where we average only 1.2 in April.

Now last fall, you may recall I predicted a very dry winter, and for once I was right. Last year, we had a pretty good rainy season, we ended up four inches above the normal annual. Last year, Mammoth had a blue banner year with record snowfall of 512 inches. This year, they’re only at 144 as of today. So it looks like the whole state’s going to be in the red as far as rainfall is concerned.

Believe it or not, even the Pacific Northwest is below normal but the Cascades have recently had abundant snowfall, so their total now is not too far below average. But last year, they had an epic year. 

If you want rain you go to the Gulf States and back east. They’ve been hammered by two serious nor’easters, and there may be a third one on the way in a few days. Nor’easters are more common in the New England states in November and December, even into January, so these two events are unprecedented. 

And our wonderful contributing editor Maggi Henrikson told us that winds tore off the siding of their beach house in their house in Cape Cod, with gusts up to 125 mph, that’s Category 3 hurricane strength.

Meanwhile, the ocean is still Lake Laguna, and a lot of the locals that have been around even longer than myself would agree with that. It got so flat, that my friend Rod Greenup, proprietor of Coast Azul Surfboards, got so desperate he flew to the North Shore for two weeks last month. And he got lucky because he scored a decent swell and the Kona weather broke for a week.

The water is still cold, folks, it’s 55 degrees. But on the bright side, the standup paddlers are have a heyday, because when it’s flat this long the water clarity is incredible due to no churning or murkiness of the water.

Meanwhile, our snowpack at Big Bear is a total of 39 inches, which is a record low. They got that much yesterday in Massachusetts. And now, all the severe weather and tornado warnings start ramping up in the Deep South.

Have a nice weekend and hopefully it only rains on Saturday!


The Friendship Shelter’s Rock for the Cause was possibly the most fun fundraiser ever

Written by DAVE CSIRA

It’s All Good!

Rock for the Cause, benefitting the Friendship Shelter, was very possibly the most outrageously fun fundraiser ever. No, forget the fundraiser part, it’s up there for most outrageously fun night ever.  

Seriously, organizers Clay Berryhill, Danielle Cavallucci, Marshall & Elizabeth Ininns, Rick & Dianne Allen, and, of course, the Stu News gang (Shaena, Lynette, and Dianne) totally crushed it. 

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Photo by Lisa Farber

Shaena Stabler, publisher/owner of Stu News Laguna, and Marshall Ininns

Generously hosted by the Skyloft with entertainment by the 133 Band, this was an A-list cast of Laguna’s finest. Taking it over the top were the many swaggy (yeah, that’s a made-up word) raffle prizes that were awarded. Who wouldn’t die for a yoga lesson on a standup paddleboard? This was a proper party.

Face it, with the 133 Band playing, cocktails flowing and delicious hors d’oeuvres making the rounds, even the most determined curmudgeon would be obliged to bust a rib-eatin’ grin. My intention was simply to support a great organization, grab one cocktail and make a quick, discreet exit. Hah! After just five seconds of Nick Hernandez belting out “I Will Believe,” I texted home, saying, “I’m going to be late.”

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Photo by Lisa Farber

The 133 Band was on fire

By the way, Nick had some awesome Joe Cocker moves going on to complement his vocals.  

A couple songs later, Steve Wood got everyone moving with his rendition of “It’s All Good.” No title could have been more apropos for this event. At the risk of omitting a number of great songs and musicians, Jason Feddy brought the house down with his performance of Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone.” Jason’s choice of this song was particularly poignant, jolting the audience back to the purpose and meaning of the event with the words “Nobody’s ever taught you how to live out on the street…” What truth.

None of us was ever taught how to live on the street and few (if any) in the audience have ever had to suffer the indignity of learning what that’s like. For most of us, the terror of homelessness is unimaginable.

Which brings us back to why we were all there in the first place. The Friendship Shelter has been providing support services, meals and housing to people in need since 1988. Over 10,000 clients have been assisted since the inception of the nonprofit. More than 160 people each day are relieved from the fear and anxiety of spending a night on the street or out in the open. Thirty-two men and women are provided housing with three meals per day and a safe, warm bed to sleep in. And it’s not just a handout; residents are expected to work, save money and develop life-skills so they can achieve fully productive lives.  

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Photo by Lisa Farber

The Greeter was there, greeting people

The women and men who run, support and volunteer at this organization have hearts that are two sizes larger than average. Being the people we are, Laguna Beach residents showed their hearts, as well. The event raised a record $10,800 for the Shelter, led by a surprise giant $1,250 check from Alex Del Toro and his team at the Termite Guy. How fabulously fortunate we are to have so many people like this among us. And how wonderful it is that the Friendship Shelter continues to thrive after 30 years of service.

Every non-profit organization struggles to acquire the funds needed to fulfill their mission. Donate to the Friendship Shelter: They are making our world a better place.

Thank the Skyloft by giving them your patronage.  

And, by all means, go see the 133 Band wherever they are playing.

Maria Sharapova teams up with NAWBO’s Gilbert to launch a mentoring program for women entrepreneurs

What a great way to kick off International Women’s Day: Laguna Beach resident Loreen Gilbert, president of WealthWise Financial Services, is pictured here with tennis great Maria Sharapova as they establish a program through NAWBO to mentor women entrepreneurs through the Sharapova Women’s Entrepreneur Program. 

The program will kick off in Spring 2018 with a nationwide call for applicants, from which up to six business women will be selected.

Gilbert is Chair Elect of the National NAWBO Institute. 

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Submitted photo

Loreen Gilbert and Maria Sharapova

Five-time Grand Slam tennis champion Sharapova has experienced some monumental moments in her career: Among them the life-changing Wimbledon win in 2004, and in 2012, the launch of her own successful candy company, Sugarpova.

On International Women’s Day, in the spirit of philanthropy and women’s empowerment, Sharapova announced the partnership with National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO) along with her team to mentor female entrepreneurs  

Sharapova naturally turned to NAWBO as a partner for finding and identifying potential participants, and as a resource to help develop a robust curriculum for the 12-month-long mentorship program.

“I only wish when I was starting out with my own company, Sugarpova, that I had a group of mentors and the team I have now to help guide and support me,” Sharapova said. “I recognize that supporting women-owned businesses by sharing expertise and valuable business resources can have a dramatic impact of growth of a business and can be a real catalyst for advancing the success of a business. Simply put, this partnership is about women helping women.”

2017-2018 Destination Imagination Regional Tournament at Thurston Middle School on March 10

On Sat, March 10, forty-six teams from Orange and San Diego counties will compete at Thurston Middle School in open-ended academic challenges in the fields of STEM, fine arts, and service learning. The challenges will take place from 7:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. and the closing ceremony will be held at 5:30 p.m.   

Thurston Middle School will have two teams competing in the scientific challenge, two teams competing in the technical challenge, and one team competing in the improvisation challenge. LBHS and TOW Elementary each have one team in competing in the tournament.

Opening ceremony at 2017 Global Destination Imagination

The tournament helps teams learn important life skills including time management, presentation skills, collaboration, conflict resolution, and creative and critical thinking. Destination Imagination teaches the Creative Process, from imagination to innovation, aligned with Common Core, 21st Century Learning, and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics).

Student teams of two to seven students work collaboratively for months and

showcase their solutions at a regional tournament in March. Bjorn Avila and Ina Inouye Wu, science teachers, are the advisors of the Thurston teams and have been meeting weekly with the teams during lunch at school to practice quick problem-solving exercises. 

While the Team Challenge makes up most of the team’s score, a small portion of the team’s score is earned through an Instant Challenge, a quick problem-solving task.

Thurston Middle School is located at 2100 Park Ave.

Barbara’s Column

Parade dodges rainout



Photos by Mary Hurlbut

Rain didn’t dampen the spirits of Patriots Day Parade participants or audience.

A sudden downpour, as parade participants were finishing last-minute touches on their entries, just as suddenly blew out. Parade organizers and participants could breathe easily again. All their hard work was not for naught.

The Laguna Beach Garden Club’s entry was probably the least affected by the rain. It was adorned as always with fresh flowers by professional float designer Carolyn Bent, who, not incidentally, won first place in this year’s Rose Bowl Parade. Her Garden Club design was awarded second place in the Community Service Category on Saturday

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The Garden Club’s float simply blossomed during the brief rain shower

Garden Club parade Co-Chair Diane Kloke put in a plug for the annual Gate & Garden on May 4, the proceeds of which fund numerous civic projects.

“We maintain pocket parks throughout the city, including the Sister Cities plot in Heisler Park and the gardens at our elementary and middle schools,” said Kloke. “The tour also funds our scholarships for Laguna Beach High School and Laguna College of Art & Design students.”

Learn more at the club’s monthly meetings at

First prize in the Community Service Category went to the Laguna Art Museum.

Third place was won by the Laguna Beach Elementary Schools Honors Chorus, which sang it way along the parade route.

The elementary schools’ band came in second to the Anneliese School band, which included a pet goat.

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Laguna elementary school band came second to Anneliese 

Palmdale High School won the Band Sweepstakes.

Glori Fickling chose the Beach Cities Auto Collison entry for the Grand Marshal’s Award. Parade Committee Chair Christopher Tomlin picked the Pageant of the Masters’ entry; a plethora of costumed characters from past pageants escorting a towering horse, last seen in the Pony Express vignette in the 2017 show, ridden by Conner Sink

Laguna’s American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars posts had no competition for the Color Guard Award. 

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The Anneliese School band – with goat – came in first in its category

Youth Float honors went to Laguna Outreach Community Arts, better and more easily known as LOCA. The Pacific Marine Mammal Center took second place.

Laguna Beach County Water District was awarded first prize in the Commercial Float category for its stylized wave-decorated vehicle, reflecting both the parade’s Waves of Freedom theme and the district’s primary mission to deliver water to Laguna. 

The Pageant of the Masters picked up its second award for second place in the category: a plethora of costumed characters from pageants escorting a giant horse from the 2017 Pony Express vignette, ridden by Conner Sink

Main Street Bar & Cabaret came in third for the all-stock, 1931 Model A Ford, owned by Wayne Rollins and his wife Peggy Perkins, an entertainer at the bar owned by Wendy and James Jones.

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Senior clowns weren’t just in it for the laugh: they won third place

Community Service kudos went to the Learn to Stop Bullying/Ability Awareness Project float. The Laguna Beach non-profit provides anti-bullying education. The entry included a performance by Junko Cheng and Maya Fischbein singing “Waves of Freedom,” written by Laguna Beach resident Shadi Pourkashef, who founded the local non-profit. 

The entry honored 50 children who have died by suicide after relentless bullying, said Sandy Thornton who supports the group. 

Ebell Club came in second in the category. The club is one of the oldest non-profits in Laguna Beach and the first group to fund a scholarship to Laguna Beach High School graduates.

Laguna Woods Senior Clown Alley was awarded third place.

No contest for the Novelty Commercial: Ralphs was the lone winner.

Three categories for vehicles rounded out the winners.

Jim and Sandy Gillam copped first place in the Antique Category for LAM, followed by Main Street’s second award for a car owned by Perkins. 

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Skipper Carillo had a home run day at the Parade

The Rotary Club drove off with first place in the Classic Auto category. Second place went to three-time winner Laguna Art Museum and third was awarded to No Square Theatre’s, entry owned by Pat Quilter

Top prize for contemporary autos went to Laguna Food Pantry. Dr. Korey Jorgensen, one of the Pantry’s “paraders” gave a shout out to U.S Bank, which has a drop-off food bin on the premises for always appreciated donations.

Laguna Beach Life Guards won second place; with third place going to the multiple winning Water District.

Parade honorees, who rode the parade route early, cheered on the entries at the reviewing stand. 2018 honorees included Honored Patriot George Ciampa, Citizen of the Year Heidi Miller, Junior Citizens of the Year Marisa Schatz and Joseph Ravenna, Laguna Art Museum Artists of the Year, and Athletes of the Year the Laguna Beach Water Polo Club’s 10-and-under, 12-and-under and 14-and-under girls teams that won titles during last summer’s Junior Olympics. 

They were joined Sandi Werthe, who deserves an award for her years of outstanding effort on behalf of the parade and by everybody’s favorite Lagunan: Skipper Carrillo.

Skipper’s catchwords say it all. It was a “Home Run Day.” 

But wait – there’s more. You will find advance notice of all the fun and interesting stuff for visitors or residents to do in Laguna by reading 


See below for more beautiful captures by Mary Hurlbut from this year’s Patriots Day Parade

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Swirls and purples make for a sensational sunset

Photos by Scott Brashier

What do you see in the swirls?

A volcanically beautiful sunset

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