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Letters to the Editor

Laguna Beach’s own army of Fairy Godparents could be looking for a garden near you

I wondered what our town would be like if we spent more time sharing our talents and grace with one another for the good of our community? It dawned on me, that’s precisely what the quiet, gentle and gracious members of the Laguna Beach Garden Club do each and every day! 

From building educational school gardens for the children of Laguna Beach from elementary school through middle school, to providing scholarships to many Laguna Beach High School students and Saddleback horticultural students to funding the new educational gardens at the Boys and Girls Club and funding trail maintenance at the Hortense Miller Garden and so much more. 

These busy folks also have an ongoing commitment to care for the downtown Pocket Park on Forest Street, the Sister Cities Garden in Laguna’s Heisler Park and a garden at Main Beach. Their environmental efforts include partnering with the Laguna Beach County Water District to fund a water filling station downtown to help us all fill our refillable containers while enjoying our time outdoors as well as funding and working on the city’s own pollinator garden.

The 160 plus member Club goes about all these acts of grace with quiet dignity, warmth and sheer joy. They have members from ages 30-95, from every socioeconomic level, with careers as diverse as neurologist to chief financial officer, teachers, nurses, aerospace executives and everything in between. 

They fund all these projects through their major fundraiser, the annual Gate & Garden Tour, which is a walking tour of several of the loveliest gardens that Laguna Beach residents have to offer. The tour has become an annual source of excitement for the town for the last 17 years. This tour makes all their Fairy Godparent work possible. They tirelessly canvas neighborhoods each year to find a grouping of homes that will make for a wonderful experience for tour guests. 

Susan South, one of last year’s homeowners stated, “Allowing my garden to be used was a sheer delight as we saw the joy and excitement of the guests that visited on tour day, I’m so happy that so many of my neighbors joined in and opened their homes as well. Our neighborhood buzzed with goodwill and esprit de corps. Knowing how much good they do for the community with the funds earned by this tour was just fantastic.”

This year the club is looking for homes in the North Laguna area specifically around the Crescent Bay area. If you find a letter in your mailbox requesting that your home be on the tour or happen to meet them on their scouting walks in your neighborhood, please take a moment to consider allowing your garden to be part of this great Laguna Beach tradition. 

In the words of Luther Burbank, “Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; they are sunshine, food, and medicine for the soul.” 

Please join the club in bringing more joy, happiness and grace to our beautiful city.

Karen Nelson

Laguna Beach Garden Club

Laguna Beach

Group of locals gather as a sign of support for Ukraine

War brings out the best and worst in people. Thankfully, many of Laguna’s best turned out last Thursday for a community photo to honor and support the freedom-loving people of Ukraine. 

Letters to the editor group photo SNL 3.8 

Click on photo for a larger image

Photo by Zoe Marie

Following a moment of silence, I had the opportunity to talk about the horrors of war, and what exactly Ukrainian families are facing now that Russian forces have invaded their country. 

“Women and children have been forced out of their homes and are living in underground shelters. They are waiting for trains and buses to take them to safety. Despite freezing weather, some have resorted to walking to the Polish border,” I reminded the crowd. 

“Imagine bombs being dropped on North Laguna, downtown, TOW, Woods Cove, Arch Beach Heights or South Laguna, and then tanks rolling up Forest Avenue. What would you do? The terror and panic would be overwhelming.”

As the saying goes, “One picture’s worth a thousand words.” I’m pleased Thursday’s community photo focused on these four words: “Laguna Stands With Ukraine.”

Among those pictured are City Clerk Ann Marie McKay, Diane and Cort Kloke, Lisa Mansour, Kirsten Whalen, Tom Davis, Patricia Twitty, Tom and Vickie Lamb, Faye Baglin, Kristin Thomas, Dr. William Anderson, Jessica deStefano, Pat Sparkuhl, Mary Dawe, Maggie Owens, Bob Mister, Gayle Waite, Kathleen Quinlivan, Barbara and Greg MacGillivray and many others.

For those wishing to donate to Ukrainian relief organizations, contact UNICEF or the European Food Banks Federation.

Denny Freidenrich

Laguna Beach

Looking back on this year’s parade recognizing those who make it special

Yes, it was quite a parade. Cancelled last year because of the pandemic, it was exciting if not nostalgic to view again this local icon of American pride and patriotism. 

Having been Patriot of the Year a few years ago, I can attest to the pride one feels being so honored. This year’s honored patriot, Bill Sandlin, was an outstanding choice. 

As I viewed the parade from the stands in front of City Hall, my thoughts turned to the reality of our times. There I was, along with my aged comrades-in-arms from the VFW and the American Legion, representing along with the Marines and other veterans groups participating in the military side of patriotism. 

But, in the cheering crowd and the marchers parading were others – health givers, police, fire fighters, charitable organizations, youth support groups, environmental protagonists, better schools proponents and just patriotic Americans – all contributing equally, if not heroically, to our community. 

My thoughts dwelled on the realization that we veterans are but proud relics of prior hostilities while the youth of our great nation could again face adversity against belligerent foes, i.e., today the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians or that nut case in North Korea; tomorrow who knows what?   

The unwarranted invasion of the Ukraine by all of those Russian troops and the seemingly insatiable obsession of Putin to control and manipulate former Russian satellites could result in another worldwide conflagration.            

And at this late stage of our respective lives, outside of encouraging and supporting active personnel and veterans in need as we do now, what could we elderly veterans really do; how could we contribute if worldwide hostilities broke out? The urge to serve still burns brightly but I sure as hell don’t want old guys like me carrying a rifle and we don’t want to see our younger people in combat again (been there and done that). 

Let us hope, then, that cooler heads will prevail and that peaceful, worldwide solutions will evolve even with bullies like Vladimir Putin and XI Jinping and that somehow in some way the various factions of our divided nation unite to practice the neglected arts of mutual respect, compromise and negotiation. 

Be assured, however, that if our great nation becomes imperiled by foreign or internal forces intent on destroying our democracy, Americans will unite as always. 

And, finally, let’s hope that next year’s parade will be as inspiring, joyful, peaceful and successful as this year’s was. Take care. Be vigilant. Protect our democracy.

Arnie Silverman

LB VFW Post 5868

Laguna Beach


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