Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Dreams come true...a Cinderella Story

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Happy New Year's Eve! The new year is almost here and I'm on the south campus of Rancho Los Amigos at the site of the Downey Float Association.

IMG_2538 as Smart Object-1IMG_2554 as Smart Object-1The float is done and ready to make the 20-mile trip to Pasadena for the Rose Parade. The theme for the parade this year is "Dreams come true." Downey's float design is based on the Cinderella story called "The Glass Slipper." A beautiful collection of flowers and seeds.

IMG_2570 as Smart Object-1Tomorrow, I will share a few more pictures of the Downey princesses.

Monday, December 30, 2013


Downey Landing salesDowney Landing sales

Another sign that Christmas is over is the post-Christmas sale, and the resulting traffic at the malls.

"Buying something on sale is a very special feeling. In fact, the less I pay for something, the more it is worth to me. I have a dress that I paid so little for that I am afraid to wear it. I could spill something on it, and then how would I replace it for that amount of money?"
~Rita Rudner

Stonewood traffice

Sunday, December 29, 2013

I'm melting!

Discarded Christmas tree

Today, I took down my Christmas tree. I'm not the only one, as I noticed while driving around Downey. I liked the look of this tree, with its "snow" dripping onto the surrounding asphalt.

Apparently, this isn't the first year I've noticed these discarded trees. Downey Daily has just celebrated its fourth anniversary, and in looking back, I came across this one that I wrote four years ago: Christmas is really over.

In these four years, I've learned more about Downey than in all the years previous. Thanks for making this journey with us!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

The fabulous Esquires

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Today we were at a friend's wedding. Both the bride and groom and many of their friends are into swing dancing. So, they arranged to have the Esquires play at the wedding. The Esquires play big band swing music. And, they play it well.

The Esquire Music Foundation was established in 1967 as a non-profit training program to teach young musicians how to play authentic dance music of the "Big Band Era." The conductor, Downey resident Eric Brundin, was fun to watch. Check out their website here.

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The reception started with swing lessons for everyone. What a fun experience!

We danced the night away...some of the dancers were amazing and the rest of us just had a great time. I was personally inspired by the little girl in the first picture. She danced to every song.

"Nobody cares if you can't dance well. Just get up and dance"
~ Dave Barry

Friday, December 27, 2013

The Glass Slipper

Downey Rose Float 2013

The construction is done. Starting today, there are five days left to transform this bare frame into the beautiful Glass Slipper float envisioned by designer Thom Neighbors for the 2014 Rose Parade on New Year's Day.

Downey Rose Float 2014Lots of volunteers were already busy covering surfaces. It's messy work, but everyone seems to be having a great time.

Downey Rose Float 2014

Downey Rose Float 2014Downey Rose Float 2014

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Christmas traditions II


Yesterday, I shared some of our Christmas day traditions. I thought, today, I would share some of our "day after Christmas" traditions. The first is having the last piece of apple pie. Sometimes you have to pass up other leftovers just so you'll have room for it.

P1030096The second tradition is trying to fit all the wrapping paper and gift boxes into the trash containers by trash day.

What are some of your "after Christmas" traditions?

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Christmas traditions


It's Christmas.

One thing I've learned over the years as people from other families have been added to join in our family traditions is that their families have some different traditions. Our family begins Christmas day by going to church at 6:00 am for a service that helps us focus our attention on God's gift to the world, Jesus. One way we do this is to light the Advent candles.

P1030084Then we go home and open our other gifts. I love seeing my loved ones' faces as they open the gifts I gave them.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The bright star of Bethlehem

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Nativity scenes tell the real story of Christmas. It's really not about fighting traffic and buying bigger and better presents. It's about the humble birth of Jesus.

IMG_2110 as Smart Object-1This particular nativity is a beautiful representation. It was awarded the "Best Religious Display" for the Downey home decorating contest.

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"Christmas in Bethelem. The ancient dream:  a cold, clear night made brilliant by a glorious star, the smell of incense, shepherds and wise men falling to their knees in adoration of the sweet baby, the incarnation of perfect love."
~ Lucinda Franks

Monday, December 23, 2013


OLPH nativity scene

I know I've shown you this scene before (here and here, to list a few), and undoubtedly I'll show it to you again. It's one of my favorite Downey Christmas scenes: the nativity scene at Our Lady of Perpetual Help. It's not Christmas morning yet, so there's no baby Jesus in the mangerjust Joseph and Mary, waiting.

OLPH nativity scene JosephOLPH nativity scene Mary

Sunday, December 22, 2013

'Twas a few nights before Christmas

Last minute tree shopping

Christmas Eve is just two nights away. I've been enjoying my Christmas tree for a couple of weeks now.

Last minute tree shoppingBut not everyone decorates early. Home Depot was doing a brisk Christmas tree business this afternoon. And for a kid, the excitement of picking out your very own tree is the same, no matter when you pick it out.

When do you get your Christmas tree?

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Mayor's Award, Area 4

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The city of Downey is lit up this year with Christmas lights. This house was amazing. It was the winner of the city of Downey's Mayor's Award for Area 4. The yard was covered in "snow" and there were lighted decorations everywhere. There was even a live Santa sitting in a "sleigh."

IMG_2082 as Smart Object-1As we drove around Downey, it had me wondering how it came about that we started putting lights on our homes.

Did you know that it was Thomas Edison who started it all? It seems that Edison wanted to find a way to market his incandescent light bulb. He decided to use his invention to add to the Yuletide festivities. He strung up lights all around his laboratory building so that railway commuters could see them. I'm sure he never imagined the global phenomenon he started back in 1880.

"Christmas is the season of light."
~ Anonymous

Friday, December 20, 2013

Winter wonderland

Contest winner

Tonight in my search for interesting Christmas decorations, I ventured into north Downey, where I discovered what looked like the perfect gingerbread house come to life.

Contest winnerThis house won the Downey Holiday Home Decorating Contest Winter Wonderland award for Area 4. Every line and curve is outlined with lights. There's a cute display in every window.

Even as I (and numerous other carloads) admired it, I couldn't help but think about the amount of work that went into creating this winter wonderland!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Last days of fall


It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, which means it's almost winter. The winter solstice is this Saturday at 9:11 p.m. our time.

The trees are a sure sign of the end of fall, for which I personally am grateful. Every fall the tree next door to me drops its leaves, which then, because of the natural funnel effect of my property, get blown into my backyard. For a couple of months each year, I'm sweeping up leaves that don't even belong to me. I look forward to December 21st each year.

“I like these cold, gray winter days. Days like these let you savor a bad mood.”
Calvin (Bill Watterson's Calvin and Hobbes)

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Oakland (Los Angeles) Raiders


Flying a flag or banner outside your home has become quite popular. It's a way to announce your favorite season, your favorite emotion, or your favorite sports team. This Downey resident is obviously an Oakland Raiders fan. Not only is this banner visible each day, but there is a decal on their truck and in a front window.

P1030045The Raiders started in 1960 as the Oakland Raiders. They moved to Los Angeles in 1982, and then moved back to Oakland in 1995.

But either this fan hasn't heard that the Raiders have moved back to Oakland or they are hoping the Raiders will see the error of their ways and return to the fan base here in Los Angeles.

"The silver and black may have another home, but the Raiders will always belong to the people of Los Angeles."
~Ice Cube

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

The lights of Naples

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IMG_1788 as Smart Object-1Every year we try to plan a trip to Naples, Long Beach. It's about 15 miles south of Downey and it is an amazing haven for beautiful houses along canals intended to be like Naples, Italy.

The houses are incredible and most are lighted up and uniquely decorated so that as you walk along the canals, you are treated to a vision of lights and a variety of decorations from the elegant to the silly. It is a tradition among our friends and family to walk the canals and enjoy the amazing variety.

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Monday, December 16, 2013

The best of the best

Mayor's award Area 3 2013

The Mayor's Award in the Downey Home Decorating Contest is the most prestigious award, the best total display in each area. This is the Area 3 Mayor's Award winner.

Mayor's award Area 3 2013I didn't count them, but I'm pretty sure there were 101 Dalmatians.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

What a nightmare!

Best Overall in Area 3

The winners of this year's Downey Holiday Home Decorating Contest were announced last week, so I thought it would be fun to check out some of the winners.

Best Overall in Area 3The city was divided into four areas. The were lots of possible categories, including Best Use of Lights, Best Lawn Display, Most Energy Efficient, and Santa's Workshop.

In Area 3, this house won the "Best Overall" award, with its characters from the movie The Nightmare Before Christmas.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Christmas music

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Every year we are treated to Christmas carols by the Warren High Marching Band and Color Guard. It's a great tradition for them to visit the neighborhoods around Downey.

"Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, become a child again at Christmas-time."
~ Laura Ingalls Wilder

Friday, December 13, 2013

Christmas displays


Downey is full of houses that decorate during the Christmas season. Everything from lights on the houses to blowup snowmen to moving toy trains. When I was a kid back in the early 60s, my mom made a life-size Santa standing next to a replica of Sputnik and put it on our roof next to the chimney. She made Sputnik out of a 4-f00tt diameter balloon and papier-mâché. She made a frame for the Santa, covered it with papier-mâché, and then painted both. For its time, it was the talk of the block.

This house certainly has an impressive display of lights and animated objects.

P1030037There are also those who decide to display a simple reminder that "Jesus is the reason for the season."

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given.
Isaiah 9:6

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Living decorations


I've seen this house on Quinn Street in past years and decided to go back to see what it would look like this year. I met Bob, who told me about the history of his decorations. He adds new things each year to keep his display living.

P1030027The pink and white light ribbons around one tree are for his sister, Kimberly, who died of breast cancer ten years ago. The red, white, and blue light ribbons are to honor our troops. Green, red, and white light ribbons were to honor his mother-in-law, who died Sunday in Mexico.

Bob says he'll be done completely by this Sunday. Go by and say "Merry Christmas" to Bob.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Finally...the Jolly Snowman


In addition to the tree lighting, Santa, and hot cocoa, there was snow and a snowman!

IMG_1290 as Smart Object-1Of course the line for the kids to get into the snow area was crazy long, but there it was for all to play in. I watched for a few minutes as some of the smaller kids worked up their nerve to dive in. This little guy didn't seem to sure of himself.

"Snowmen fall from Heaven....unassembled".
~ Anonymous

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

More than just tree-lighting

Santa at Christmas Tree Lighting

The annual tree-lighting celebration is about lots more than just lighting up the Christmas tree. No Christmas celebration would be complete without Santa on hand to hear Christmas wishes. Of course, the tiniest kids are really more interested in that beard!

Girl Scouts at Christmas Tree Lighting The event is also an opportunity to celebrate the kids in the community. Several kids' groups sang Christmas songs for the entire crowd. These Girl Scouts performed a great rendition of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.

More tomorrow...