The Ocean Beach native’s monthly documentary series “Wonderland” — a program he started from scratch and that has included spotlights on the Peninsula — has aired on KPBS public television for the last three years.
“I like discovering and helping people get the most out of San Diego,” Tafolla said. “There’s so many cool things here and it’s just amazing.”
Tafolla got the idea for “Wonderland” four years ago from watching a PBS documentary highlighting different places in California. A home painter at the time, Tafolla decided he wanted to try making a documentary featuring a neighborhood in San Diego.
“There’s so much to do in San Diego and we all get so busy that we don’t take the time to enjoy it all,” Tafolla said.
Naturally, Tafolla’s first episode showcased his hometown of OB.
“I know Ocean Beach frontward and backward better than anybody, all the cool little places and the local ins and outs and where to go,” Tafolla said. “I figured I would make one on what I knew best.”
Tafolla shopped the Ocean Beach episode around to local television stations and it was eventually picked up by the local PBS affiliate, KPBS. The first episode of “Wonderland” aired in October 2006 and the monthly installments have become a local hit ever since.
“The best thing I hear from people, and I love it, is ‘Man, I’ve been here my whole life and I never knew that,’” Tafolla said. “When people tell me that, that’s the best.”
Tafolla has dropped in on various parts of San Diego during the course of the 30-plus episodes of the show. Aside from the OB shows, Tafolla said the Torrey Pines episode — which included paragliding — was his favorite.
“That was one of my favorite things I’ve done in San Diego. I never knew you could go paragliding,” Tafolla said. “You just walk right off the cliff and you’re cruising. That was pretty fun for me.”
As for what he loves most about Ocean Beach, Tafolla said he likes the laid-back vibe. The 42-year-old attended OB Elementary, Collier Junior High (now Correia Middle School) and Point Loma High.
“Everybody is just so relaxed and it’s so unpretentious. You can just go cruise and it has a very laid-back feel to it,” Tafolla said. “I love to just head on down to the beach, cruise Newport (Avenue), take a bike ride and the feeling is just very relaxed.”
“Wonderland” covers a different area of San Diego each month and the January episode was shot in Liberty Station, highlighting some of the different art and dance locales and eateries there. Wherever Tafolla’s next episode takes him, he said he will always learn something new.
“Even though I’ve been here my whole life, it’s cool because I really don’t know a whole lot about other neighborhoods,” Tafolla said. “So I’ll scout out an area and just walk the neighborhood and talk to the people and find out what’s cool in this neighborhood and just kind of explore.”
The most recent “Wonderland” featured Oceanside on Feb. 27. For more information, visit wonderlandsd.com.