Arts Year in Review: Highlights on the cultural scene

With Nike departing the U.S. Open of Surfing, contentious City Council elections and those Mitt and Barack guys grabbing headlines, it was a busy year for news — and the arts proved to be no exception. We could try to order this into a conventional "top 10 stories" or some such thing, but since the arts are always playful and surprising, and sometimes impossible to classify, we'll approach our year-end wrapup the same way. Here were some of the highlights on the cultural scene in 2012:

Way to start the new year: Florida sisters Lauren Anne Clement and Tori Siddall entered a dance contest on a whim and threw together costumes (1950s dresses) and a song ("Rock Around the Clock") in a few hours. The upshoot: The contest was sponsored by Fountain Valley-based retailers Kit-Cat Clocks, which gave Clement and Siddall a ticket to perform in the Rose Parade after they won. The downside: The sisters had to dance to the song for five hours straight as their float rolled slowly through Pasadena.

Giants? Patriots? Who cares?: During the Super Bowl on Feb. 5, Huntington Beach resident Kevin Willson was a bag of nerves, as were his family and friends — but it had nothing to do with which team won. Willson, a commercial director, had submitted the Doritos ad "Sling Baby" for the Crash the Super Bowl contest, in which the winning entries screen during Bowl commercial breaks. Not only did Willson's ad make the cut, but it went on to top the USA Today/Facebook Ad Meter, in which viewers vote on their favorite ad of the entire Super Bowl.

Worst Oscar predictor: Huntington Beach Independent City Editor Michael Miller challenged readers to top his predictions for Best Picture, Director, Actor, Actress, Supporting Actor and Supporting Actress and promptly got trounced. Miller got only three out of six, which, in retrospect, seems logical for the man who once predicted that (a) "L.A. Confidential" would beat "Titanic" for Best Picture because it got better reviews, (b) Wesley Clark would win the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and (c) the Angels had no chance of losing the American League West in 1995.

Better late than never: The Miss Fountain Valley Scholarship Pageant returned after a 21-year hiatus, thanks to Executive Director Keeli Scott Lisack, who won the crown herself in 1977. Andrea Licata, an 18-year-old UCI student, won the revived contest on a platform of creating awareness for early breast cancer detection.

A galaxy close, close by: "Star Wars" fans — not to mention Make-A-Wish kids — got a rare treat in July when a replica of Jabba the Hutt's sail barge rolled through Surf City during the Course of the Force, a charity relay to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation. When the barge stopped by the Huntington Beach Pier en route to the Comic-Con in San Diego, the area filled with plastic lightsabers, Darth Vader helmets, Princess Leia hair buns and other galactic merriment.

Happy birthday: Ruby's Diner, which started in 1982 in Newport Beach and operates a restaurant on the Huntington Beach Pier, celebrated its 30th anniversary by reverting back to its original prices for one day: $2.15 for a RubyBurger, $1 for fries and $1.60 for a milkshake.

Farewells: Gary Sahagen, director-at-large of the International Surfing Museum, stepped down in January; Darlene DeAngelo, curator of the Huntington Beach Art Center, retired in September.

Sobering reminder: Steel artist Patrick Vogel got the call to create Huntington Beach's official memorial to the 9/11 attacks, which will stand outside City Hall. Vogel's design features two actual steel girders from the World Trade Center as well as a sculpture that incorporates the look of the Twin Towers and the Pentagon.

Twitter: @MichaelMillerHB

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