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Laguna Beach Firefighters show support during Cancer Prevention Month 

During the month of October, Laguna Beach Firefighters are showing their support for Cancer Prevention Month by wearing blue and pink T-shirts. The goal of this campaign is to bring awareness to cancer, not only for firefighters who are battling the disease but also for family, friends, and members of the community who have lost their battle, or are currently battling this disease.

Laguna Beach Firefighters shirts

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Laguna Beach Firefighters show their support during October in their specially designed T-shirts

T-shirts worn by the firefighters are available for purchase by the general public with all proceeds going to the Firefighters Cancer Support Network, a nonprofit organization providing assistance and one-on-one mentoring to thousands of cancer-affected firefighters and their families. The Firefighter Cancer Support Network also delivers extensive firefighting cancer awareness and prevention training to fire departments nationwide.

The Laguna Beach Fire Department is proud to have participated in this annual awareness event since 2013. “This is definitely a cause that hits home for us,” said Laguna Beach Fire Chief Mike Garcia. “Within the last eight years, three retired members of the Laguna Beach Fire Department have been diagnosed with cancer. Two of them have lost their lives to the disease and one is actively fighting it. We do this to show our support for them.” 

Laguna Beach Firefighters truck

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The proceeds from the T-shirts go to the Firefighters Cancer Support Network

Statistics surrounding cancer and firefighters (from the Cancer Support Network): Cancer has caused 61% of the career firefighter line of duty deaths from January 2002 to December 2016 according to data from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF); Cancer has caused 70% of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters in 2016; Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer than the general U.S. population; Firefighters have a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general US population. 

“This is extremely important for all of us,” said Laguna Beach Engineer Firefighter Paramedic Pat Cary. “We all have coworkers, family members or friends who are currently battling cancer or who have lost their lives to this disease. Each year during the month of October, our goal is to bring awareness to this disease and support to those who are currently battling it.”

According to the American Cancer Association, you can reduce your risk of cancer by making healthy choices like eating right, staying active and not smoking. Regular self-exams and screenings for various types of cancers – such as cancer of the skin, colon, cervix and breast – can increase your chances of discovering cancer early, when treatment is most likely to be successful. Ask your doctor about the best cancer screening options for you. 

T-shirts are available for purchase by the general public on the Laguna Beach Firefighters Association website at www.lagunabeachfirefighters.com. Each shirt costs $20 plus $5 for shipping and handling. All proceeds go directly to the Firefighters Cancer Support Network.


Laguna Beach Garden Club presents guest speaker Donald Olson on Friday

The Laguna Beach Garden Club proudly presents guest speaker Donald Olson on Friday. Olson will discuss Garden Goddesses: Four California Women and Their Legendary Gardens at Laguna Presbyterian Church. A social starts at 9:30 a.m. and the club meeting kicks off at 10 a.m.

Laguna Beach Garden flower

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach is home to many legendary gardens along the coast

Donald will lead an informative and entertaining tour of four spectacular California gardens, introducing attendees to the larger-than-life personalities who created them. Among the four women are: Kate Sessions, the “Mother of Balboa Park”; Florence Yoch, who designed gardens for Hollywood moguls as well as the garden sets for Tara in “Gone With the Wind”; Virginia Robinson, who created the first estate garden in Beverly Hills; and Ganna Walska, a flamboyant opera singer who used her immense wealth to create Lotusland in Santa Barbara, and is considered by many to be among the top ten gardens of the world. 

Donald Olson is a travel writer, novelist, and playwright with a longtime interest in gardens and gardening. His work has appeared in the New York Times, National Geographic, and other national publications. An avid gardener himself, Olson has been exploring the great gardens of Europe and the Pacific Northwest for many years. 

Before or after the meeting, guests are invited to browse the outdoor “Garden Boutique” where donated garden-related items and plants can be purchased at “dirt-cheap” prices. Fantastic garden gloves are only $7 per pair. 

The public is welcome and there is no charge for guests on their first visit. 

Parking is free in the Laguna Canyon Road lot (spaces 300-422) or $3 for all day in spaces 185-228. 

For more information on the garden club, visit www.lagunabeachgardenclub.org.

Laguna Presbyterian is located at 415 Forest Ave.


Laguna Beach Library presents Author Talk, Baseball History in SoCal, this Saturday

Laguna Beach Library flowers

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Laguna Beach Library will host three special authors on Saturday

On Saturday, Oct 13 at 2 p.m., Laguna Beach Library presents an Author Talk, Under the Sun: Baseball History in Southern California. The community is invited to this special event just in time for the baseball playoffs. 

Local author Jean Hastings Ardell will share from her book Making My Pitch, the story of Lia Jane Borders, one of the first females to play men’s professional baseball. 

Amy Essington, author of the Integration of the Pacific Coast League, will also be speaking at the event. Her book explores how Hawaiian, Native Americans, Asians, and African Americans were among the players in this minor league team.

Andy McCue, author of Mover and Shaker: Walter O’Malley, the Dodgers & Baseball’s Westward Expansion will explore the rich history of baseball in Southern California. 

This is a free program for all interested adults. Call the library with any questions at (949) 497-1733.

The Laguna Beach Library is located at 363 Glenneyre St.


Laguna Greenbelt presents documentary on fifty years of preservation Nov 29

The Laguna Greenbelt, Inc. presents the recently completed documentary “The Laguna Greenbelt: Fifty Years of Preservation” on Thursday, Nov 29 from 7 - 9 p.m. at Soka University. 

Laguna Greenbelt is a grassroots organization that has worked to protect wildlife habitat around Laguna Beach and contiguous to Soka University since 1968.

Laguna Greenbelt presents canyon

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Laguna Canyon Road 

Founder Jim Dilley sought to preserve a “greenbelt” of open space and the Laguna Greenbelt led efforts to preserve a coastal wilderness area that is now almost four times the size that Dilley envisioned – 22,000 beautiful acres.

Laguna Greenbelt presents bobcat

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Bobcats are rarely seen but they are out there in the Wilderness Parks

There will be a panel discussion after the documentary featuring Ron Chilcote, Harry Huggins and Charles Michael Murray (co-producers of the documentary).

The event is free to the public. For more information, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.lagunagreenbelt.org

Soka University is located at 1 University Dr., Aliso Viejo. The event will be in Pauling Haul - 216.


Laguna Tiki lovers escaped to Tikiland over the weekend in the Canyon 

Photos by Scott Brashier

Laguna Tiki lovers Tikiland

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The Tikiland marketplace on Sunday featured over 60 Tiki artists and vendors

On Sunday, Tiki lovers from all over delighted in the third Tikiland Trading Co. marketplace sponsored by Royal Hawaiian. Over two thousand locals and visitors enjoyed over 60 Tiki artists, vendors and Tiki makers at the Art-A-Fair festival grounds in the Laguna Canyon.

Laguna Tiki lovers dance

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Tiki lovers enjoyed dancing to the wonderful musical entertainment

Musical entertainment for the day included performances from Jason Lee and the RIP Tides, Big Poi Combo, Keanuenue Polynesian Entertainers and Ukulena. 

Laguna Tiki lovers band

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Jason Lee and the RIP Tides rocked the stage on Sunday

Laguna Tiki lovers vendor

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Locals felt the ocean breeze while strolling amongst their favorite Tiki artists, makers and vendors

Laguna Tiki lovers Hasty

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(L-R) Tiki Tony, Anne-Waterman-Tanner, Joel Tanner, and Hasty Honarker enjoyed a grand Tiki time on Sunday


The new pedestrian crossing lights are up at Brooks Street 

The new pedestrian crossing street

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Photo by Scott Brashier

Caltrans finalized the installation of the in-road warning lights and flashing  beacons at Brooks Street on Friday


Tidepools at Rockledge

Tidepools at ocean shot

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Tidepools, treasures teeming with life


Dianne’s Creature Feature(s)

Nuggets from Nestor

By DIANNE RUSSELL

Almost a year ago, I encountered Leonard Porto III and Nestor downtown, and I haven’t heard from either of them until a few days ago. Just to refresh your memory, here’s the original story.

While I was waiting in front of Slice for the opening reception to begin, a gentleman walked past me holding a cat attached to a long dangling leash.

Of course, I had to pet the cat.

“Who’s this?” I asked.

Nuggets from Leonard and Nestor

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Photo by Dianne Russell

Leonard Porto III and Nestor when I met them last year

“Nestor.” The man, who tells me his name is Leonard, looks in the direction of the restaurant. “He’s hoping they have Mouse-eronni pizza in there,” he says with a smile. 

Nestor, however, does not smile. 

Did Leonard mean to say Nestor wanted mouse-a-rella cheese on his pizza, I wonder?

“Oh, and he likes open-mice night at Mozambique.” Leonard beams.

I think that’s pretty funny. But Nestor looks away. Maybe he doesn’t like Leonard’s delivery. As comedians say, it’s all in the timing.

Turns out Nestor’s owner, Leonard Porto III, adopted the cat comic while he (Leonard, that is) was volunteering at the Laguna Beach Animal Shelter. He and Nestor had both been there about a year, when Leonard finally took him home. 

Nuggets from grumpy

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Photo by Leonard Porto III

Nestor caught in a less comedic mood

Leonard admits that at one time he too was homeless, but I wasn’t able to get his full story. He says that he’s well known around town. After coming out with a few more mouse-centered jokes, I give Leonard my card and ask him to email me more of Nestor’s material.

But I heard nothing until last Friday. Out of the blue, I got an email from Leonard with a new picture of Nestor and some prime comments, or as I now call them, “nuggets from Nestor.”

“Litter is for the litter box, not the Twitter box!” he says.

Thank you, Nestor, for your words of wisdom. I look forward to next month’s news nuggets.

You can teach a cat anything – that it wants to do...Anonymous


The Laguna Beach Historical Society presents: The 1993 fire – 25 years later

The Laguna Beach smoke

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The smokiness of the 1993 fire seen from Coast Hwy

The Laguna Beach Historical Society invites the community to a gathering on the 25-year anniversary of the 1993 fire on Thursday, Oct 18 at 7:30 p.m., at Susi Q. Gene Felder will be presenting historical photographs and information on the 1993 fire in Laguna Beach. The event is free.

The rate of the fire was one to be noted and remembered 25 years later. The top half of Emerald Canyon burned at a rate of 100 acres per minute. The fire flashed across LCR in six places with 200-foot flame heights. 

The fire burned 1 1/4 miles of brush in seventeen minutes to Canyon Acres. It also held enough strength to overrun the Command Post at Thurston School. The fire jumped Park Ave and Temple Hills Dr lost 27 homes. The winds shifted at 10 p.m., and by midnight OCFD declared the Laguna Fire contained. 

For more information, including how to become a member of the Laguna Beach Historical Society, visit www.lagunabeachhistory.org. Membership packages start at just $25 per year.

Susi Q Center is located at 380 Third St.


Stardust transforms the genius of Bowie into a genius performance by Complexions Contemporary Ballet

By DIANNE RUSSELL

On Friday evening, a packed Laguna Playhouse audience was fortunate enough to witness the transformation of the songs of revered icon David Bowie into a dance performance like no other. And the audience responded with a lengthy standing ovation at the conclusion of the program. 

Stardust took an array of Bowie’s hits – Changes, Life on Mars, 1984, Rock n Roll Suicide, and The Young Americans, to name a few, and created a powerful, moving visual imprint, inspired by his unique personas and his restless artistic invention. Included in the evening program were excerpts from Complexions’ legendary contemporary repertory. 

Stardust transforms high in air

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Photo by Amber Bliss

A breathtaking moment in Stardust

With each song, The Company, with select extraordinary performances by Brandon Gray, Craig Dionne, Jared Brunson, Maxfield Haynes, and Tim Stickney, wowed and mesmerized the audience.

Complexions represents one of the most recognized and respected performing arts brands in the world. Founded in 1994 by master choreographer Dwight Rhoden and the legendary Desmond Richardson, Complexions’ foremost innovation is to remove any barriers to creative expression, not reinforce them. And true to this objective, the performance obliterated any conceptions one might have about dance.

Stardust transforms on stage

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Photo by Christie Ball

Curtain call

A few years ago, Paul Morley, who wrote a biography of David Bowie, offered this great description of Bowie as part of the UK exhibition David Bowie Is.He was the human equivalent of a Google search, a portal through which you could step into an amazing, very different wider world,” said Morley. “He flooded plain everyday reality with extraordinary.” 

In this tribute to Bowie, this is exactly what Complexions did: it took us into another dimension, deep into outer space to travel the galaxies with his songs. This Company is other worldly in the brilliance of their performances. 

The choreography by Dwight Rhoden is so stunning it defies description. Adding to the overall mystic were the dazzling glam rock costumes (designed by Christine Darch) and the glitzy makeup. The lighting and set design by Michael Korsch contributed greatly to the ethereal mood. 

Rhoden says, “Complexions challenges audiences to ‘Open your eyes to the possibilities of movement without restraint.’” And, transfixed with amazement, we certainly did. 

For more information on Laguna Dance Festival, go to  www.lagundancefestival.org.

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