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    Take a sweet ride through Gingerbread City at Liberty Station
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Dec 04, 2020 | 3068 views | 0 0 comments | 2 2 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Santa's Castle made out of gingerbread. COURTESY PHOTO
    Santa's Castle made out of gingerbread. COURTESY PHOTO
    slideshow

    Liberty Station in Point Loma is doing something extraordinary for the year-end holidays: hosting a re-imagined, Gingerbread City on Saturday afternoon, Dec. 12.

    Sponsored by The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County, the drive-thru event will showcase the theme “Holidays Around the World,” featuring more than 20 world-class gingerbread structures.

    Modified due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, attendees will remain in their cars for the entirety of the event, which will include holiday fun, music, drive-up concessions, and family-friendly entertainment.

    One of San Diego’s two largest epilepsy awareness events, Gingerbread City will celebrate 27 years of supporting the programs and services provided to the 50,000 people locally living with epilepsy. 

    “We are thrilled to be moving forward,” said Wendy Urushima-Conn, president/CEO of the Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County. “This is our first time in Liberty Station and our first time as a drive-thru event.

    “This year, more than ever, we can all use a little bit of holiday cheer. Our organization was determined to keep the magic of the Gingerbread City alive in 2020. Families can pile in the car and experience our vibrant village of gingerbread houses, celebrating one of San Diego’s beloved holiday traditions in a unique format.”

    Added Urushima-Conn: “We wanted to keep the gingerbread spirit alive in a safe manner, raise awareness and funds to fight epilepsy, and treat people to these awesome gingerbread structures. They fit on large tables and have been created and donated by individuals and pastry artists. It’s really just about making something fun and festive. Folks who want to purchase them can bid on them.”

    There will also be swag bags with all kinds of goodies given away to participants. All proceeds will benefit the Epilepsy Foundation. The gingerbread structures will be available to bid on online before the event starting Monday, Dec. 7. 

    The general public is invited to join honorary event hosts Bob and Sheryl Scarano and event co-chairs Rick Burritt and Sheenoo Sharma for this year’s Gingerbread City from the safety of their vehicles. They will experience some of the most unique, fun, and fanciful gingerbread houses, villages, and storybook scenes south of the North Pole. 

    Epilepsy is a central nervous system (neurological) disorder in which brain activity becomes abnormal, causing seizures or periods of unusual behavior, sensations, and sometimes loss of awareness.

    The Epilepsy Foundation of San Diego County helps individuals with epilepsy and their families to overcome the daily challenges of living with the unpredictability of seizures. The organization provides free community-focused education, advocacy, counseling, and other supportive programs to empower clients with resources, life skills, self-confidence, and self-advocacy.

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    Community Advisory Board begins meetings on Sports Arena redevelopment
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Dec 04, 2020 | 936 views | 0 0 comments | 10 10 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    An artist’s rendering of the proposal by Brookfield Properties and ASM Global to redevelop the Sports Arena property.
    An artist’s rendering of the proposal by Brookfield Properties and ASM Global to redevelop the Sports Arena property.
    slideshow

    Sports Arena Community Advisory Board, a broad-based 19-member stakeholder group of merchants, military, residents, and transportation officials, has started meeting to determine what form the Midway District’s redevelopment will ultimately take.

    In August, a City selection committee picked a proposal by Brookfield Properties and ASM Global to redevelop the former Midway District Sports Arena property.

    Brookfield and ASM plan to transform the 48-acre site into a vibrant community with public parks, new homes, office space, and a modern entertainment venue generating approximately 3,200 jobs and an annual economic impact of more than $300 million. 

    “The first meeting was in October,” said Jessica Jones, Brookfield’s communications liaison. “Meetings will be every other month for stakeholders. We will be discussing housing, mobility solutions, commercial/mixed use, programming, etc.”

    “We are working with the Sports Arena CAB throughout the process of transforming the current site into a special, mixed-use destination,” said  Zach Adams, VP of mixed-use development for Brookfield Properties. “The advisory board meets virtually with the Brookfield Properties team on a regular basis. The meetings involve feedback and discussion on various aspects of the project including site planning, housing, parks & public spaces, activities & programming, mobility solutions and other public benefits.”

    Added Adams, “We are working closely with the City and the community on the go-forward project process and timeline. As we collaborate with these stakeholders, it is our goal to continue advancing expeditiously and deliver an inspiring, transformative project for the community.”  

    CAB members spoke about what they expect in negotiations with the City and developers on sports arena redevelopment.

    “As a CAB member, I’m looking forward to working with Brookfield to develop a walkable, livable community that accomplishes the goals we set out in the updated (Midway) Community Plan,” said Midway-Pacific Highway Community chair Cathy Kenton.

    “Circulate is excited to help advise on the future of the Sports Arena area, and we look forward to the creation of an exciting destination that is accessible by transit and biking connections,” said Angeli Calinog, policy manager for Circulate San Diego.

    “As the economist on the board, I hope to provide insights on the economic impact of different alternatives that might be considered, including the costs and benefits of each,” said Lynn Reaser of Point Loma Nazarene University. “I also hope to bring the perspectives of PLNU as a local educational institution.”

    “We appreciate an opportunity to be at the table,” said Coleen Clementson, director of regional planning for SANDAG, the region’s transportation planning agency. “In addition to that, we are working with the Navy, the City and other stakeholders on (potentially creating) a major central mobility hub in close proximity (Old Town Trolley Station). Right now the timing is perfect, as SANDAG is working on an update to its regional transportation plan, re-imagining our transportation system to serve generations to come. Whatever project ends up in the Sports Arena location, we want to help support that effort.”

    In 2011, SANDAG adopted the 2050 Regional Transportation Plan and Sustainable Communities Strategy, a balanced vision for the evolution of the region’s transportation system over the next 40 years.

    “So we’re looking at a significant improvement in high-speed transit,” noted Clementson. “And a destination like the Sports Arena is a perfect example of a project that would lend itself well to high-speed transit. We’re really trying to look at multi-modal transportation options throughout the region, making highway improvements with more managed lanes, as well as making bicycle and pedestrian improvements.”

     

    The full list of the 19 Sports Arena Community Advisory Board members:

    Cathy Kenton, Midway-Pacific Highway Planning Group
    Dike Anyiwo, Midway-Pacific Highway Planning Group
    Byron Wear, Point Loma Resident
    Anthony Pretto and Chuck Pretto, Kobey’s Inc.
    Kevin Sheehan, Phil’s BBQ
    Rebecca Lieberman, San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce
    Nicole Capretz, Climate Action Campaign
    Jason Riggs, San Diego Stadium Coalition
    Chris Duggan, California Restaurant Association
    Andy Hanshaw, San Diego County Bicycle Coalition
    Jason Paguio, Asian Business Association
    Mark Balmert, RADM, USN, San Diego Military Advisory Council
    Lynn Reaser, Fermanian Business & Economic Institute, Point Loma Nazarene University
    Sherry Ryan, San Diego State University
    Angeli Calinog, Circulate San Diego
    Karen Thatcher, Walter Anderson Nursery
    Sunny Lee, Old Town Chamber of Commerce
    Coleen Clementson, SANDAG

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    Harbor Town Pub adjusts by adding beer garden, pick-up window
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Dec 03, 2020 | 2485 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Harbor Town Pub’s popular burgers and wings are also available for takeout. COURTESY PHOTO
    Harbor Town Pub’s popular burgers and wings are also available for takeout. COURTESY PHOTO
    slideshow

    Since 2011, Harbor Town Pub in Point Loma Village has been offering craft beers on tap and a wide assortment of top-notch burgers and wings in a friendly, unpretentious setting.

    Chad Cline, restaurant-bar co-owner, said he and business partner Graham Davenport took over the previous establishment on Rosecrans Street nearly a decade ago.

    “It was a fine-dining place when we took over and we sank everything into remodeling it,” said Cline. “We built just about everything ourselves, digging in the trenches, pouring concrete, etc. We wanted to make it a neighborhood spot for good people.”

    Cline said all the changes wrought by COVID have included Harbor Town’s business model.

    “We did a remodel in order to make it so we could have a pick-up window versus bar seating,” he said. “We converted it to include more of a fast-casual element. The outside we converted into a beer garden that we made in the parking lot with giant circus-like tents with tables and lighting.”

    The pub’s menu was changed along with introducing tighter health protocols.

    “We streamlined our menu concentrating more on our highest sellers to make sure our food was going out as fast as possible under the circumstances,” noted Cline.

    Of his menu Cline said burgers have always been a mainstay.

    “We love the hamburger and it’s always been great for us,” he said. “We’re also doing some bowls with ahi tuna and red snapper and calamari. We have very high-value menu items. We want to make sure on our menu that whatever customers pay for – they get it. That it was very much worth their money.”

    Harbor Town’s menu offers breakfast dishes featuring numerous egg scrambles, biscuits and gravy, chilaquiles, French toast, barbecued pulled pork nachos, salads, sliders, tostadas, ginger soy wings, and a variety of sandwiches and tacos.

    Coping with the pandemic has been tough, but Cline is optimistic about the future and a return to something more like normal.

    “I hope we can get back to people hanging out with their friends, going to birthday parties and frequenting local restaurants where they’re not afraid of being in a crowded room,” he said. “That would be my main goal: getting people back together with their friends, or even meeting somebody new.”

    Cline characterized Harbor Town’s ambiance.

    “It’s a neighborhood pub atmosphere, a Cheers-style place,” he said. “We get everybody from the neighborhood, and people from out of town who want to go to a spot where the neighborhood goes.”

    What does Cline like about being a restaurateur?

    “Making people happy,” he answered. “I just appreciate the honesty and challenges of the business. When somebody comes in hungry and grumpy, and you serve them a meal they really like, and that turns that day around for them, it makes you feel really good about yourself.”

     

    Harbor Town Pub

    Where: 1125 Rosecrans St.

    Hours: Mondays-Fridays noon-10 p.m., Saturdays-Sundays 9 a.m.-10 p.m.

    Contact: harbortownpub.com, 619-224-1321.

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    Catch the Wave TV keeps OBES students, parents in the loop
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Dec 03, 2020 | 984 views | 0 0 comments | 15 15 recommendations | email to a friend | print

    What started as a way for Ocean Beach Elementary to connect with distance-learning students off-campus has morphed into a full-fledged weekly broadcast series.

    Called Catch the Wave TV and named after the school’s motto, “Catch the Wave to Success,” the Friday broadcast spots have replaced in-person morning assemblies on hiatus due to COVID-19.

    The broadcasts are all about ongoing attempts by the school to adapt during the epidemic by creating a shared experience for students, teachers, and families.

    “I work with our PTA every year to ramp up what happens during the year,” said Marco Drapeau, who’s in his eighth year as OBES principal. “A big part of my job is being a cheerleader for the kids. The challenges of distance learning have forced us to re-imagine how we can connect with students and preserve some of the traditions that make them excited to come to school. Having this platform has been wonderful and it definitely captures the unique spirit of OBES.”

    Drapeau credited the PTA with “doing all the heavy lifting” on the broadcasts.

    “It was very much a collaborative effort,” the principal said. “Catch the Wave TV is the brainchild of our PTA. I could not have created it without them. I am fortunate to work with so many visionary families. They have made this a true community effort.”

    “Our school has a really special community,” agreed Sara Holden, Community Builders Committee chair for the PTA. “Since we’ve been learning from home, my kids and I have missed the experience of going to morning assembly, seeing all our friends, singing the school song together, and feeling that sense of connection. It has been so much fun bringing some of that back through Catch the Wave TV. We’ve got an amazing response from OBES students and families.”

    The creativity of the Catch the Wave TV crew is on display every Friday morning at 7:45 a.m. The show streams live on YouTubeFacebookTwitter, and Periscope. OBE teachers have also begun showing it to their classes over Zoom, making it a fun way for students to end each week.

    In a sense, Catch the Wave TV is a way to turn back the clock on operating conditions at the elementary school, said Drapeau.

    “When we lived in the ‘normal’ world, every school day began with a line-up of students where the students of the week were recognized,” he noted. “And we closed out those assemblies with our school song called Catch the Wave, which brings out a lot of parents and is a special community-building event that we do every Friday.”

    Missing the shared morning-assembly experience, Drapeau and his staff asked themselves, “What can we do to replicate that in some way, shape or form?”

    The answer was Catch the Wave TV.

    Of the school’s weekly broadcasts, Drapeau said, “We really wanted to see kids get involved. It’s a big deal for students to see their friends and peers first thing in the morning after assembling, to do the flag salute and the Pledge of Allegiance. We always bookended the flag salute with the school song.”

    Allowing students to tell a joke during the broadcast has also been added to lighten the mood of the broadcasts, noted Drapeau.

    Besides being a workable substitute for in-person school assemblies, Drapeau pointed out Catch the Wave TV could be forward-looking as well as forward-thinking.

    “When we return to school, big gatherings may not be doable,” he said. “To comply with social distancing, there may need to be some procedural changes to things that used to be done in-person. What the world will look like going back to ‘normal,’ is something that is going to be very different I think.”

    Ocean Beach Elementary School’s population was 415 students in 2020. More than a century old, OBES is a California Distinguished School for grades TK-4. It is a Title I school that delivers a solid educational experience to an ethnically and socio-economically diverse student body.

    To view episodes of Catch the Wave TV, visit https://youtu.be/aaMtq7nKCnA.

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    ‘Reverse’ parade with Santa, food and toy drive still on in Ocean Beach
    by DAVE SCHWAB
    Dec 02, 2020 | 9566 views | 0 0 comments | 14 14 recommendations | email to a friend | print
    Unlike the traditional Ocean Beach parades in the past that marched down Newport Avenue (above), this year’s ‘reverse’ parade will take place Saturday, Dec. 5 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Dog Beach. PHOTO BY JOSH UTLEY
    Unlike the traditional Ocean Beach parades in the past that marched down Newport Avenue (above), this year’s ‘reverse’ parade will take place Saturday, Dec. 5 from 5 to 9 p.m. at Dog Beach. PHOTO BY JOSH UTLEY
    slideshow

    Ocean Beach Town Council’s 41st holidays celebration continues this year featuring a “reverse” parade, crooked tree, an auction, and a charitable food and toy drive – a tradition for more than 40 years. All of the many Yuletide events are planned and executed by OB Town Council, which also handles the annual Christmas tree selection and implantation in the beach, which took place Dec. 1.

     

    REVERSE PARADE

    The community’s parade, the centerpiece of OB’s year-end holidays, will take place Saturday, Dec. 5 from 5 to 9 p.m. Only the parade venue – and rules – have been changed to accommodate safe social distancing.

    “It’s hugely different this year,” said OBTC president Mark Winkie of holiday festivities. “We’re calling it a ‘reverse’ parade with stationary floats set up at a cordoned-off Dog Beach. What will happen is people will be able to drive-through and see all the floats and displays, which will be set up in the Dog Beach parking lot in a welcoming way with a little trail they can follow.”

     

    PRECEDENT-SETTING EVENT

    Corey Bruins, OBTC board member, parade committee chair and co-director, said the council’s City-approved reverse parade this year is establishing a brand-new standard.

    “Since back in September, we’ve been working with the City and County to put together a set of guidelines for a modified (parade) event with a different format,” Bruins said. “They wrote the guidelines for us, which will be used as a model for how to run events like this in the future. Those guidelines are providing a space for the community to come together in a different way with a vehicle-based event.”

    To avoid a traffic jam with the fledgling reverse-parade format, Winkie said: “We’ve allotted time slots for guests to show up. That way, we can monitor and control the amount of flow through the parade. The City and County are happy with what we’re doing. Our protocols will be used as a template for other parades put on through the City and County. Our organization is proud of that.”

    Given San Diego recently slipped back into the most-restrictive purple tier, Bruins noted: “We had a lot of discussions about how to make sure everything is safe. A vehicle-based event is really the safest it can possibly get. Displays are not ‘floating’ anywhere and are limited to 10 persons total, when normally they would have 100. Marching bands will have to stay in their own space. Everyone will wear masks and undergo temperature checks.”

    Added Bruins, “Mayor-elect Gloria will also be there for a little while. We’re really excited to have his support and have him show.”

     

    HOLIDAY SWAG BAGS

    This year there will be no arts and crafts display. But Bruins said swag bags will be dispensed (while they last) to parade goers. Swag bags will feature goodies from all of the reverse-parade entrants and some sponsors, along with a few special OBTC surprises. Three lucky swag bag recipients will receive a $50 gift card to a local restaurant.

     

    SANTA & PARADE JUDGING

    Santa will be making an appearance at the reverse parade and there will be a mailbox to drop letters to him. Reservations will be required and a limited number of vehicles will be permitted.

    Participants will also judge the parade this year. As they drive through, they’ll be able to cast ballots for the following categories: Best Overall, Best Use of Lights, Best OB Spirit, Best Use of Theme, and Most Unusual.

     

    SCAVENGER HUNT

    There will also be a post-parade highlight. “There’s going to be a scavenger hunt set up on Newport,” noted Bruins. “People will be looking for blow-up candy canes. Whoever finds the most will be entered into our raffle.”

     

    HOLIDAY FOOD AND TOY DRIVE

    One thing that will be largely the same this year will be the beach community’s annual Holiday Food and Toy Drive co-chaired by Stacie Woehrle and Cameron Reid.

    “Thankfully, the contributions have been robust,” said Woehrle. “We anticipate more recipients this year: more people in need. We’re gearing up for about 25% more seniors. And families are still signing up. We anticipate an uptick due to the currrent situation.”

    Woehrle said the food distribution is COVID-safe. “The event itself is hands-off,” she said. “People will be loading up their trunks or the back of their cars with packages to do a touch-free delivery.”

    On Saturday, Dec. 19, volunteers will still gather at the OB Masonic Lodge at 1711 Sunset Cliffs Blvd. They will help sort through and package food and gifts for distribution.

    “We’re going to need help on Dec. 19,” implored Woehrle. “Volunteers can go to our website, obholidays.com, where they can sign up to volunteer. You don’t need to sign up for the 19th (food distribution), just show up masked. Deliveries begin early, around 9 a.m. and last until noon.”

     

    VIRTUAL HOLIDAY GALA

    A live and silent auction, awards and more can be glimpsed from the comfort of your living room during OB’s Virtual Holiday Gala Saturday, Dec. 12 from 7 to 8 p.m. A favored tradition and one of the community’s biggest fundraisers, the gala will have a multitude of one-of-a-kind OB auction items available this year. Community award winners will also be announced.

    If you'd like to donate to the OB Food and Toy Drive or volunteer, visit obtowncouncil.org.

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