Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Home for the holidays


The float entry from Downey for this year's Rose Parade is on its way to Pasadena. The float is entitled "Home for The Holidays" and includes a horse-drawn sled, a house, a bridge over a stream, and lots of birds.


The float is designed and built each year by the Downey Rose Float Association and many volunteers.


As always, the flowers are beautiful and accent the theme of the float.


This pillar of the bridge uses potatoes to simulate the stone construction. It's amazing how inventive the designers are to make living things look like non-living things.

Watch the Rose parade and see the Downey entry win another award.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The rails

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Getting stopped by a train this past week, I was reminded of how often I forget we have trains that run through Downey. It is a true piece of our past that seems almost antiquated in our smart phone world.

20141229_114135 (1) as Smart Object-1According to the Downey Chamber of Commerce site, it was in April of 1874 that the people of Downey City heard the first whistle of a Southern Pacific train lumbering into town. The extension of the Southern Pacific Railroad through Downey played a pivotal role in bringing people throughout the country to the city to reap the potential business and agricultural benefits of the land. Plots of land were sold at a quick pace, and a bustling business center was created at the northwest corner of Crawford and Front Streets (Downey Avenue and Firestone Boulevard).

Obviously the rail line was significant to our development. It is fascinating when you realize what events brought about the development of cities and centers. Certainly, tons of things have changed. I just think it is kind of cool that the trains are still going.

A little railroad trivia:  In South Dakota it is illegal to place firecrackers on a railroad track. The fine doubles if they are lit. Believe it or not, putting salt on a railroad track in Alabama was once punishable by death. 

Monday, December 29, 2014

Crunch time

Downey Rose Float preparation

It's crunch time for the Downey entry in the 2015 Tournament of Roses Parade. With just two more days remaining to complete the float, there's a lot of work to be done, and the volunteers are appearing from all over. Everyone is welcome to help out in any way they can.

The horse is in pretty good shape, although this volunteer is pointing out an area still to be covered.

Some of the volunteers work on flower preparation, placing each flower in its own vial. (For a $2 contribution, you can put your name on the vial and the team will put it on the float.)

Others, such as this Junior Girl Scout troop, help keep the floors swept up.

Downey Rose Float preparationDowney Rose Float preparation

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Williams Elementary

Spencer V  Williams school

A few years back (I won't say how many), I attended Spencer V. Williams Elementary School. A few things have changed since then.

The name. Even though the full name is still visible here, the main sign out front shows the current shortened name: Williams Elementary School. The school was named for Spencer Valentine Williams. From the little information I could find, he was a local resident, a graduate of Downey High School  a coach, a principal, a member of the Board of Education, and a much-loved neighbor.

The fences. As is true for most schools now, Williams is a closed campus, and the gates are closed and locked when school is not in session. But back in the day, there were no gates here, and my friends and I spent a lot of hours skateboarding in these hallways.

The grades. Williams teaches students from kindergarten through third grade. I went here for seven years, from kindergarten through sixth grade. (From here, we went to junior high, 7th-9th, rather than middle school.)

The posters. Character wasn't a special program, it was just part of a regular school day.

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Pick-up or putt?

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I think it is fun that people use our local parks for so many different things. On my morning walks, I see people stretching and working with personal trainers. Some people come to have picnics and birthday parties. Recently I came across this man golfing (or at least putting).

IMG_1895 as Smart Object-1Of course, there is the pick-up game crowd too. Although I missed most of the action, they looked like they had had a good workout.

Friday, December 26, 2014

The Rose Parade - A fine Saturday morning part 4

Downey Rose Float 2015

It's the day after Christmas today, and most of us finally start thinking about the New Year. But the Downey Rose Float Association started thinking many months ago, from fundraising all year long to the design and implementation of this year's entry for the Tournament of Roses Parade in Pasadena.

Downey Rose Float 2015For my final stop in my Saturday "walks" three weeks ago (I admit, I drove to this destination), I stopped by the warehouse where the Rose Parade float is in progress.

At this point, progress is more apparent to the planners than to the casual passer-by. This year's theme is "Home for the Holidays," and this pile of plywood and a horse has a long way to go before it matches the vision in the designer's head.

But it will get there. With the hard work of the Association members and all the loyal volunteers who come out to help each year, it will be a beautiful sight the next time I stop by.

Downey Rose Float 2015

Thursday, December 25, 2014

Christmas Day 2014


One of Downey's churches has an unusual tradition to celebrate Christmas. They meet together at 6:00 am on Christmas Day to sing Christmas songs and read through the Christmas account. After an hour of this they meet again for a breakfast potluck. Then the congregation goes home to continue the day's celebration.


The church is filled with members from the church and some even that come from other churches since their churches do not celebrate on Christmas morning. This allows the congregation to celebrate Christmas by focusing on the risen Lord that was born that first Christmas morning.

How did you celebrate Christmas day?

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Christmas Eve 2014


So I went out this evening to see what some people were doing on Christmas Eve. Evidently, some people were still working as can be seen here at Massage Envy. Santa Claus was on his way by now so I think this Santa's helper was laid off and found another job.


But LA Fitness was closed.


The parking lot at Downey Landing was full to the brim though.


And, looking inside Best Buy I can see where all the LA Fitness clients have gone. This is why the parking lot is full too. To get last minute bargains for gifts or for themselves.

What did you do on Christmas Eve?

Park gates

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Here are a couple more pics in my series of garden gates... more back yard gates that open on to Furman Park.

It seems that if you lived in one of these houses, it would somehow feel like your yard just extended into the park. The thought is appealing.

"I go to nature to be soothed and healed, and to have my senses put in order."
- John Burroughs

Monday, December 22, 2014

The Downey art scene - A fine Saturday morning part 3

Downey Doodle-icious

Just down the street from the farmer's market (see part 2), my walk took me by the Downey Doodle-icious mural and gave me a chance to see how it is progressing. The biggest change I noticed (and the most tedious part of the project, one would think) was the addition of the lines on the sun, which gave it a bright, finished look.

Don LamkinUpdate: I happened to stop by the mural this past weekend to check in again with artist Don Lamkin and his helpers. Of course there's still a lot of work to be done, but it's amazing how quickly the project is progressing.

Downey Doodle-icious

And finally, just across the street, I poked my head in at the Stay Gallery, which was hosting selected works from The Art of Rancho, a program at Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center in Downey. The program provides patients with training by world-renowned artists in adaptive drawing, painting, and photography.

Stay Gallery Rancho Exhibit

Sunday, December 21, 2014

The farmer's market - A fine Saturday morning part 2

Downey Farmers Market

My next stop on my series of Saturday morning walks a couple of weeks ago was the farmer's market in downtown Downey. (See part 1 for my first stop.) On this fine morning, the market was bustling with shoppers and with those just enjoying the atmosphere.

Downtown Downey karaokeAt the Mambo Grill, you can pause to listen to karaoke tunes.

Downtown Downey boyOr, since no dogs are allowed at the booths, you can find a comfortable place to sit and wait, maybe for someone to bring you a breakfast treat. (My personal favorite is the coffee cake from Tropicana.)

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Private suite

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This past Wednesday we bought tickets for the Clippers (from Costco!). True to form, the value was amazing. We shared a private suite with ten others. What a fun night. The game was exciting with a final score of 102 - 100.

20141217_203844 as Smart Object-1An indulgent side was the desert cart that came right to your suite door, offering dangerously tempting treats.  Yes, I had to have a lemon bar. And, it was delish!

Friday, December 19, 2014

The park - A fine Saturday morning part 1

Furman Park jogger

A couple of weeks ago, I woke up to a beautiful Saturday morning, and I luxuriated in the warmth and the sunlight as I took several walks around town.

I started out at Furman Park, where sports enthusiasts were everywhere. Some were alone: a runner jogging on the new walking path and a gentleman practicing tennis swings against a backboard. Others were in groups: guys playing a game of pickup basketball and a youngster practicing hitting a baseball with his dad.

An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.
~ Henry David Thoreau

Furman Park tennisFurman Park basketballFurman Park baseball kid

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Landscape art


There is some new art on the Downey landscape. I found it on the corner of Paramount Blvd. and 3rd Street, just across the street from the Rives Mansion and just outside of The Downey Brewing Company.

DSC_0062The assignment was to paint something cultural of Downey. This depiction of the music that can be heard in several eating establishments and on the roof of certain parking lots in Downey is a great selection.

20141213_115330This is Candace and Kyle, the artists that captured one cultural aspect of Downey.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Christmas at Knott's


The Knott family moved to Buena Park in 1920. Walter Knott developed the boysenberry shortly after. Knott's Berry Farm has been a standard for Downey residents to have an amusing day of going back in time. Back to the old West.


The above steam engine was used in the California desert in the 1800s and was brought to Knott's Ghost Town in 1941.


This is what it looked like before it came to Knott's.


Knott's has always celebrated the handcrafted arts. During Christmas they set up the Craft Fair with many handicrafts on display for sale. We visited Cris at this Christmas ornament shop where she will hand print any name and sentiment onto your ornament.

We then topped the evening off by splitting a chicken dinner at Mrs. Knott's Chicken Dinner restaurant, which has been serving those chicken dinners since 1934.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Garden gates

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There are a number of backyards that border Furman Park. Most of these backyards have their own unique gates that open up into the park. I thought it would be fun to do a series of some of them. Having a gate that opens up onto a park makes for a serious garden gate.

IMG_1924 as Smart Object-1"Every exit is an entrance somewhere else."

Monday, December 15, 2014


Furman Park puddle

The new walking path at Furman Park, made of decomposed granite, drains quickly after each rainstorm. But this area right next to the path, which will eventually contain some outdoor workout equipment, doesn't. Surrounded by a nice concrete curb, it collects the rain into a very nice reflecting pool.

All we need now are some geese.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Star light, star bright

Downey Christmas Tree Lighting 2014Downey Christmas Tree Lighting 2014

Last week was the annual lighting of the Christmas tree at the Downey Civic Center. (It's during the holiday season like this, when there is so much going on, that I'm grateful that DDP is a blog and not a newspaper that is required to report events when they happen!)

As usual, Santa was there to listen to the kids' Christmas wishes, there was a field of snow to play in, and there were lots of blow-up decorations for family pictures. It's a time when the entire town can join in on the fun.

Downey Christmas Tree Lighting 2014

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The signs of Christmas

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It is that time of the year—December. The night air is cooler, it's "winter" in California. That also means it is time to decorate for Christmas. I love Christmas decorations, they seem to add such dimension  and color to our daily lives. It makes everything sparkle and focuses our attention on the season.

IMG_1972 as Smart Object-1As we wandered along the canals in Naples, each of us appreciated the beauty and creativity of each house.  There is something magical in the lights and the colors.

“Christmas waves a magic wand over this world,
and behold, everything is softer and more beautiful.”
~  Norman Vincent Peale