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Double the delight: Donate & buy gifts at Joy of Giving Holiday Market – help a worthy cause Dec 2 & 3

On Sat, Dec 2 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m., and Dec 3 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., shoppers can make holiday gifts count twice.  At the “Joy of Giving Holiday Market,” held at the Neighborhood Congregational Church, buyers can purchase beautiful, hand-crafted international gifts and, at the same time, support a wide range of projects around the globe.

 This unique event is a wonderful way for children and adults to purchase gifts for teachers, friends and family members at affordable prices, while learning about needs around the world in places like Nepal, Africa, India, Central and South America. 

The Joy of Giving Holiday Market also provides many opportunities for shoppers to honor friends and family at the holidays who don’t need or want more “stuff,” but do appreciate making the world a better place by donating to a worthy cause.

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Submitted photo

Walking for Water group

Each of the groups provides gifts that support a variety of projects that change lives, build communities, open doors of opportunity, teach new skills, and perhaps change a small corner of the world. It’s a win-win event. 

While buying with joy this season, shoppers will enjoy holiday music and feast on delicious snacks and holiday desserts. Exhibitors include those offering hand crocheted hats as well as Bead for Life, Direct Connection to Africa, Equal Exchange Coffee, Hero Rats, NCC Kids, Peace Exchange, R Star Foundation, SERRV, Tiyya, and Walking for Water. 

Neighborhood Congregational Church is located at 340 St. Ann’s Dr, behind Ralph’s Supermarket.  Parking and shopping is free.  

Visit the Facebook Page: Neighborhood Church Laguna, or their website www.ncclaguna.org for additional information.


Great holiday gift for art lovers: 2018 Pageant of the Masters tickets on sale now for “Under the Sun” 

Tickets for the much-anticipated 2018 Pageant of the Masters are on sale now and make the perfect holiday gift for art lovers. Brighten up the holiday season with tickets to next summer’s production “Under the Sun.” 

In the early years of the 20th century, a new generation of Impressionists and plein air painters set up their easels outdoors and reveled in the natural beauty to be found as far as the eye could see. 

In the 2018 Pageant of the Masters, “Under the Sun,” theatrical magic, live music and light-hearted storytelling will honor Laguna’s own and other artistic pioneers from around the world who left their studios in search of new inspiration.

There’ll also be no shortage of fun and surprises as the Pageant acknowledges two local milestones: the 85th anniversary of “living pictures” at the Festival of Arts and the 100th anniversary of Laguna Art Museum. 

“You won’t want to miss this year’s show as we celebrate the Pageant’s 85th anniversary,” said Sharbie Higuchi, director of marketing and public relations. “Order tickets early to get the best seats for yourself or a loved one!”

The Pageant runs from July 7 – Sept 1, 2018, with performances nightly at 8:30 p.m. Tickets go on sale to the public on Dec 1. Advance ticket prices are $15 - $240.

The Pageant of the Masters is arguably one of the most unique productions in the entire world. Audiences are amazed and enchanted by ninety minutes of tableaux vivants (“living pictures”), incredibly faithful re-creations of classical and contemporary works of art, with real people posing to look exactly like their counterparts in the original pieces.

Irvine Bowl at the Festival of Arts is located at 650 Laguna Canyon Rd. 

For information and tickets, call (800) 487-3378 or go to www.PageantTickets.com


Park Plaza hosts Third Street Writers’ reading event on Sat Dec 2: First in a series

On Sat, Dec 2 from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m., the Third Street Writers will share holiday stories in the first of the month-long Park Plaza Readers & Writers Saturdays organized by local journalist and writer Billy Fried. 

The event also celebrates Holiday Digest, the fifth annual collection of holiday stories written by members of the group for publication.

Photo by Jody Tiongco

Third Street Writers

Founded in 2015, the Third Street Writers is a 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to fostering the growth of the writing community in Laguna Beach through weekly workshops, reading events, and publication of its annual Beach Reads anthology. 

For more information, contact Amy Dechary at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or visit www.thirdstreetwriters.org.


Laguna Beach Police Department now accepting applications for Citizens Academy, deadline Jan 19

The Laguna Beach Police Department is currently accepting applications for the upcoming Citizens Academy. The academy starts Thurs, Jan 25, 2018, and will meet from 6 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. for 12 consecutive weeks (the 13th week is graduation). 

Applications will be accepted until Jan 19, 2018. 

This is a non-stress course designed to provide community members with a better understanding of the LBPD and to help foster communication between police personnel and citizens. 

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Graduating Class of 2016

The academy course includes instruction in the following areas: History of the LBPD, investigations, traffic enforcement, accident investigation, driving under the influence investigation, gangs, narcotics, neighborhood watch, crime prevention, crime scene investigation, police K-9 program, volunteer programs, and other relevant topics. 

There will also be a tour of the LBPD and the OC Jail. Academy members will be given the opportunity to shoot at the police firing range and participate in mock scenarios. 

Applications are available on www.lagunabeachcity.net or www.lagunabeachcity.net/cityhall/police/cominfo

For questions regarding this program, contact class coordinator Ross Fallah at

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or (949) 464-6624.


Loreen Gilbert leads the way in empowering women entrepreneurs in Nicaragua through micro-lending

Story by LYNETTE BRASFIELD

At this very moment, Laguna Beach resident Loreen Gilbert, founder and president of WealthWise Financial Services, is in Nicaragua, practicing what she preaches every day: that smart management of money can make an enormous difference in people’s lives, providing a secure base upon which dreams can be turned into reality.

Money can only be managed, of course, if you have some – which is why Gilbert, NAWBO Institute Chair Elect and Opportunity International Ambassador, is leading a Women’s Micro-lending trip to Nicaragua. 

The goal is to empower women in poverty to develop their own businesses and gain financial security. 

Ever the entrepreneur, Gilbert formed a partnership between NAWBO and Opportunity International (OI) for the project. She is the lead from the NAWBO side, accompanied by NAWBO representatives including National CEO Jen Earle, plus the Opportunity International representative. The group of four women left the US on Nov 27 and will return on Dec 3.

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Submitted photo

Loreen Gilbert with Maria Lopez, wholesaler

Why Nicaragua? In part because Nicaragua is the most impoverished country in Latin America: 43 percent of the people live on less than $1.90 per day.  

Also, Gilbert says, “We chose Nicaragua for a variety of reasons:  we wanted an area that was easily accessible from anywhere in the US, not too expensive to travel there, a place where we could invest for the next 10 years, and a safe enough place for our members to go.”

This long-term thinking is typical of Gilbert, who celebrates the 20th anniversary of her firm, WealthWise, this year.

“We just met with a Trust Group yesterday of 21 people getting brand new loans. The total amount loaned for the 21 people was $8388. For some people, it was their first loan and for one woman, it was her 10th year of getting a loan,” Gilbert explains.  

“These loans are for four months and are paid back every two weeks as the trust groups meet together. The loans are cross-collateralized and therefore everyone is on the hook for all of the loans. OI has a 98 percent repayment rate.”

The goal of the micro-lending program, according to a press release, is to empower women “like Ana Acuna,” whom NAWBO describes as someone who grew up in a rural village walking four miles for water. 

With the organization’s help, Ana secured a loan to supply building materials for various infrastructure projects in her community.  

Acuna has now broken free from poverty, transformed her community, built a road, installed electrical lines, dug a well and reroofed a local library.

Gilbert is meeting with a number of women with similar success stories.

“Maria started out with a $533 loan and her latest loan was for $2,000. This is the very large side of loans through OI and is only given when a person has proven themselves over the years with smaller loans,” Gilbert explains.“Maria sells as a wholesaler and is now exporting to Honduras and would like to export to more countries.

“We’ve also met a furniture maker, convenience store owner, someone selling used American shoes, selling fruit, and selling spices.”

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Submitted photo

Women entrepreneurs work in many fields, include furniture making and sales

Gilbert feels that the project is a great way to use one’s skills to give back to others to build a better life.  

“If you are interested in enlarging your vision, expanding your borders and giving back to women business owners, this trip is for you,” Gilbert notes. “I have experienced first-hand how lending a hand up through microlending and microsavings programs is a perpetual gift that keeps on giving.  Let’s change the world, one business owner at a time.”  

Asked her takeaway from what has been characterized as an “inspirational immersion trip”, Gilbert says, My aha moment [was this]: these women did not chose to be entrepreneurs, rather they defaulted into entrepreneurship because there were no other opportunities for employment.”

And what better way to gain independence and financial stability, particularly for women in countries where wages are not regulated and employment conditions can be extremely challenging?

All they need is a chance – and a little seed money. 

In other words, the support and guidance of people like Laguna’s own Loreen Gilbert, who understands what a big difference even the smallest loan can make in someone’s life.

Loreen Gilbert serves on the Executive Board of National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), representing more than 13 million women business owners in the US. Gilbert is also the Chair Elect of the NAWBO Institute, which provides resources and tools to women business owners around the globe. 

Opportunity International is a NAWBO international alliance partner and a leader in global women’s entrepreneurship. For more than 46 years, millions of women entrepreneurs have been served with access to transformational financial services, education and training in over 22 countries across the globe.

To learn more about NAWBO’s partnership with Opportunity International here: www.nawbo.org/partners/international/opportunity-international


World AIDS Day 2017 is today, December 1

World AIDS Day is today, Friday Dec 1, and for the HIV affected community especially, this is a big day. The HIV Advisory Committee of the City of Laguna Beach is commissioned to educate people about HIV issues and to reduce the stigma associated with the infection.   

At 5 p.m., an emotional non-denominational ceremony is planned to honor people who have died of HIV complications. Names of people who have passed away will be read aloud in this brief but moving ceremony.  

To remember and memorialize those who have died of AIDS, committee members have enlisted the help of high school students and others to place red ribbons around trees in the downtown area. These will bear the names of people who have died of AIDS.  These names have been submitted by people whose loved ones are to be remembered.

Just like last year, at the Cobblestones area of Main Beach, there will be a “memorial tree” to which anyone may attach a heart on which they have written the first name of someone they would like to memorialize.

The City funds free HIV testing at the Laguna Beach Community Clinic on Third Street – results in 20 minutes, one drop of blood, and no appointment needed.

Join the locals at Main Beach early enough to enjoy the sunset; stay to honor someone from your own life.


Two homeless musicians & Joachim Cooder & Ry will open for Eric Burdon & the Animals: only in Laguna!

Be at the FOA tomorrow for this epic fundraising event…

Where else would you feel the spirit of Christmas played out quite like this? Nowhere but Laguna. Time to be proud…and tickets are still available for this rare event, which also raises funds for local nonprofits.

Two homeless musicians and Joachim Cooder – plus a celebrity appearance by Ry Cooder – will make for an epic and very Laguna opening for Eric Burdon and the Animals tomorrow night at the FOA grounds, organized by independent radio station’s KX 93.5’s hustlin’ Tyler Russell.

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Photo by Marianna Burdon

Eric Burdon

This will be the third concert KX 93.5 has held in Irvine Bowl, previously welcoming The Beach Boys and Kenny Loggins. The radio station remains the only organization approved for concerts in the historic outdoor venue, which has been home to a live art show for 85 years. 

Front man for the Animals, Eric Burdon is singing history in motion

Burdon has released nearly 50 records in 50 years, as front man of The Animals, WAR, and under his own name. He has shared the stage with legends such as Chuck Berry, Jimi Hendrix, Jimmy Witherspoon, Otis Redding and Bruce Springsteen. 

Hits he’ll play at the show include; “House of the Rising Sun,” “We Gotta Get Out of This Place,” and “Spill the Wine.”

Supporting act will be Joachim Cooder

Joachim Cooder grew up surrounded by music. His father, guitarist Ry Cooder, would take him on the road at an early age, first as a viewer, and in his early teens, as a player. Joachim’s first instrument was the drums, playing with Ry both live and in the studio. These touring and recording projects allowed him to share stages and recordings with Johnny Cash, Ali Farke Toure, V.M. Bhatt, Steve Earle, John Lee Hooker, Dr. John, Nick Lowe, and most notably the Buena Vista Social Club.

Cooder’s EP titled Fuchsia Machu Picchu includes songs about longing, love, plants, and the inner life of inanimate objects. The sound is very much inspired by the world music he grew up listening to.

Listen to Cooder’s “defunct cosmic ice cream truck”

“I’m always hearing some sort of defunct cosmic ice cream truck in my head, that’s the sound I’m after with my mbiras and tank drums and other tuned percussion. Hopefully, people will get that.”

In addition to the concert, the Festival of Arts grounds will host a “Winter Wonderland,” with various themed holiday parties presented by sponsors. 

It’s all – as mentioned before – so Laguna.

Montage Laguna Beach will host the VIP party at Tivoli Terrace. A meet ‘n’ greet with Eric Burdon is also available for purchase. 

Other sponsors include Cox Communications, Yrizarry Wealth Management, Firebrand Media, Stu News Laguna, and Tito’s Handmade Vodka.

Proceeds benefit Laguna nonprofits

One hundred percent of the shows proceeds will benefit non-profits KX 93.5, Friendship Shelter, and Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce. 

Tickets, including VIP and M&G options, are available at www.KX935.com. Prices range from $29 to $299.


Park Plaza: For or against? Our readers respond

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Park Plaza

Last week, we asked Stu News readers for their thoughts about Park Plaza, the pedestrian parklet now in place between South Coast Highway and Laguna Avenue. The trial period has now been extended to Dec 31 and entertainment is permitted. 

The poll is on the right-hand side of the page. 

At the time of publication, the vote was 357 for Park Plaza with 257 against. The poll is of course not scientific, but it provides an interesting snapshot of local sentiment.

We also received 16 letters, ranging from several paragraphs to a single comment in the subject line.

The poll is still up today, though we’ll be changing the topic in our Tuesday issue. Vote now and please continue to email Letters to the Editor on this subject and your views on other matters of interest to Lagunans to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


On Dec 2, Crystal Cove ushers in the season with

21st Annual Holiday Bazaar and Tree Lighting 

Crystal Cove Conservancy invites all to the 21st Annual Holiday Winter Family Festival and Tree Lighting on Sat, Dec 2, featuring OC’s only “on the beach” holiday tree. Crystal Cove Conservancy, the non-profit partner of Crystal Cove State Park, hosts the all-day family event on the beach in the Crystal Cove Historic District.

The celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  

The Historic District will be decorated by volunteers with traditional mid-century décor to bring the holiday magic to Crystal Cove. The décor will reflect the vintage character of the Historic District’s period between 1935 and 1955, transforming the seaside cottages into a seasonal display of magical lights, vintage decorations and giant candy canes. 

Festivities begin at 10 a.m. with a seasonal bazaar featuring handcrafted treasures and old-fashioned holiday decorations by local-residents and artists. All proceeds benefit Crystal Cove Conservancy and their mission of preservation, conservation and education. 

Strolling carolers will join the event at 3 p.m., and complimentary hot chocolate, apple cider and home baked goodies will be provided by The Beachcomber Café. 

The excitement builds when Santa arrives at 4 p.m. for family photos, followed by the 21st annual tree lighting ceremony at dusk (approximately 5:15 p.m.), a holiday tradition that draws locals and visitors alike each year on the first Sat of Dec. 

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Photo by Paul F. Gero

Orange County’s only “on the beach” holiday tree lighting

 “This is our “covey” way of kicking off the holiday season with all of you!” says Crystal Cove Conservancy Founder and Vice President, Laura Davick. This year, The Conservancy has partnered with Make-A-Wish® Orange County and the Inland Empire who will be selecting a child to do the honors of lighting the tree. 

Guests are encouraged to wear holiday sweaters and festive wear. Crystal Cove Conservancy President & CEO, Alix Hobbs adds, “The holiday magic is alive at this memorable event. Join us for a family photo, a sunset with a loved one or a moment to tell Santa all your holiday wishes. Crystal Cove’s glistening colored lights and mid-century decorations welcome all to enjoy a little peace during the busy holiday season.” 

Guests can park at the Los Trancos parking lot on the inland side of PCH or at the Pelican Point lots north of the Historic District lot for $5 per hour or for a maximum of $15 for the entire day. The Beachcomber shuttle bus will be available from the Los Trancos parking lot for $1.50 each way. Additional shuttle service will also be available from the Pelican Point parking lots (P-1, P-2, P-3, P-4). Carpooling or car services like Uber or Lyft are recommended as the Los Trancos parking lot usually fills to capacity. 

For more information, go to www.crystalcove.org.


Hospitality Night is tonight, Friday Dec 1: The most wonderful time of the year and - tamales

This year’s Hospitality Night event takes place tonight, Friday, Dec 1, from 5 to 10 p.m., with lots of fun predicted for all.

Instead of beginning in front of City Hall this year, the festivities start in the Peppertree Parking Lot (located between Ocean and Forest, across from Second Street) where Santa Claus will arrive to greet holiday revelers before the tree lighting ceremony at 6:10 p.m. – this year on a different pepper tree than in the past.

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Photo by Mary Hurlbut

Santa awaits his ride in 2016

The City will be hosting arts and crafts and holiday card writing to U.S. military personnel overseas in the lot until 8 p.m. 

Street closures in the downtown area will begin at 3:30 p.m. on Friday. Portions of Forest Avenue, Ocean Avenue, Beach Street, and the Pepper Tree Parking Lot will be closed to vehicular traffic prior to and during the event. 

Here’s the full schedule:

5 – 6 p.m.: Community Concert Band will play on Beach Street

5:15 – 6 p.m.: Thurston Middle School Band will playing Pepper Tree Lot

5:30 – 6 p.m.: Elementary school choirs will perform next to Santa’s Hut

5:30 – 8 p.m.: Enjoy arts and crafts and candy canes in the Pepper Tree Lot

6 - 6:10 p.m.: Community sing along in Pepper Tree Lot

6:10 p.m.: Santa Claus will arrive in the Pepper Tree Lot to light the tree

6:45 – 10 p.m.: Enjoy LIVE music on stage at the end of Forest Avenue and business open houses.

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Photo by Debbie Naude

Happy cooks preparing more than 1,200 tamales for tomorrow’s festivities

And, of course, as Debbie Naude reminds Stu News, there are the Hospitality Night tamales! Debbie took the photo above of the women preparing 1,200 tamales, 

working in the kitchen at The Laguna Presbyterian Church. The tamales will be available outside in the church in the Rose Garden from 5 p.m. 

Last year 1200 tamales were gone in one hour, by 6 p.m., Debbie says. So better hurry if you’re hungry tonight.

For more information, contact Adam Gufarotti, Senior Recreation Supervisor, at (949) 497-0304

Shaena Stabler is the Owner, Publisher & Editor.

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor & Writer.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Alexis Amaradio, Barbara Diamond, Dennis McTighe, Diane Armitage, Lynette Brasfield, Marrie Stone, Maggi Henrikson, Samantha Washer, and Suzie Harrison are our writers and/or columnists.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Stacia Stabler is our Social Media Manager & Writer.

We all love Laguna and we love what we do.

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