Will more tourists be lured to Newport Beach by its award-winning Rose Parade float? Officials hope so.
Good morning. It’s Wednesday, Jan. 3. I’m Carol Cormaci, bringing you this week’s TimesOC newsletter with a look at the latest local news and events.
In a triumphant moment for Visit Newport Beach, its massive, 165-foot-long float in Monday morning’s Rose Parade, “Jingle on the Waves,” wowed not only spectators but also the Tournament of Roses judges, who deemed it the most extraordinary float entry.
It had been a long stretch, 18 years, since Newport Beach had last been represented by a float in Pasadena’s New Year’s Day extravaganza. So Newport Beach & Co., the nonprofit that operates the city’s marketing arm, Visit Newport Beach, grabbed what officials saw as a golden opportunity to promote tourism on a worldwide stage when Tournament officials came calling last spring.
The project, for a mere $300,000 or so (flowers are apparently costly these days), was put in the hands of the venerable Phoenix Decorating Co. in Irwindale. But Visit Newport Beach has the money; in August the city approved a $6.7-million budget for tourism marketing.
Just before parade time Monday, Gary Sherwin, chief executive and president of Newport Beach & Co., was with other locals when they learned the Extraordinaire Award banner would immediately precede the float as it moved along the parade route.
“I was with Ashley Johnson, [Visit Newport Beach’s senior vice president and chief marketing officer], and we were jumping up and down like little kids. It was a magical moment for sure,” Sherwin told my colleague, Daily Pilot reporter Lilly Nguyen on Tuesday.
Sherwin, Johnson, four former Rose Queens who call Newport home and three Visit Newport Beach clients rode on the float, the longest in the parade’s 135-year history, waving to the crowd.
“Literally, thousands of people are watching you and millions of others watching on TV,” he said. “All the broadcast news … they were telling the Newport Beach story and it was just a remarkable, remarkable experience.”
It remains to be seen how soon that experience will come Newport’s way again. Sherwin said a decision as to whether or not to repeat having a float in the 2025 Rose Parade is likely to come about sometime this spring.
• High swells that led to cautionary advisories from the National Weather Service proved irresistible to O.C. surfers last week. Caused by a set of storms in the northern Pacific, a high surf advisory for the county went into effect Thursday and continued through 2 a.m. Monday. Waves were expected to reach heights of 6 to 12 feet at the peak of the swells, meteorologists cautioned.
• An Orange County Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that a controversial potential Huntington Beach charter amendment that would require a voter ID can go before the voters in March. According to this Daily Pilot story, Judge Nick Dourbetas denied Huntington Beach resident Mark Bixby’s application for a writ of mandate or a temporary injunction. Time was an important element, as the Orange County Registrar of Voters office asked for a decision by Friday to allow enough time for ballots to be printed. Dourbetas wrote in his ruling that typically judges don’t intervene or review ballot measures before an election, citing a California Supreme Court decision from 1982.
PUBLIC SAFETY & COURTS
• Two rollover accidents were reported in O.C. over the holiday weekend, City News Service reported. One person died New Year’s Eve in a crash that caused an Toyota 4Runner to roll over in the Trabuco Canyon area. The single-vehicle crash was reported at 9:36 p.m. at Live Oak Canyon and Santiago Canyon roads, according to the California Highway Patrol. Early Monday, at least one person was killed when two vehicles collided on the Disneyland Drive onramp to the Santa Ana (5) Freeway in Anaheim and one rolled over. That incident was reported at 12:34 a.m. by a woman who claimed a vehicle crashed into her Mercedes SUV and overturned. At least one person was pronounced dead at the scene.
• A pickup driver led a chase from Buena Park to Anaheim last Wednesday afternoon that ended with a PIT maneuver on Magnolia Avenue. After being stopped in his tracks and boxed in by several patrol units, the driver refused to get out of his truck. About half an hour later he was pulled out to the street and arrested.
• Two people who were found dead in a Seal Beach home last Wednesday died in an apparent murder-suicide, according to police. “An out-of-state relative called police dispatch to report that their brother was frustrated with providing care for his mother,” a police statement said. The 65-year-old man was living with his 84-year-old mother in the 600 block of Ocean Avenue. The woman suffered from an unknown temporary medical condition that required constant attention and care, police said. Family members were in the process of establishing in-home services for the woman and had arranged for the son to care for her in the meantime, according to police.
• A Disneyland worker was hospitalized briefly early Thursday following a small chemical spill at the park. Paramedics responded to the park shortly after 2 a.m. on a report of a possible hazardous materials situation and took one person to a hospital, Anaheim Police Sgt. John McClintock told City News Service. A spokesperson for Disneyland Resort said a small amount of cleaning products had been mixed together backstage.
• Right-hand starting pitcher Zach Plesac has an agreement with the Angels to play this season, pending a physical. Plesac played with the Cleveland Guardians, who in June optioned him back him back to Triple A, where he made 18 starts (19 games played) with a 6.08 ERA and 2.67 average, according to the L.A. Times report on the Angels deal.
• A 6-foot-5 junior who transfered from Anaheim Canyon to Mater Dei this school year scored 16 points in his first game with his new team. Brandon Benjamin was finally eligible last Wednesday after missing the Monarchs’ first 11 games, according to coverage of their 95-65 tournament win over San Diego Hoover by L.A. Times preps sports columnist Eric Sondheimer. “Suddenly, Mater Dei (11-1) is looking seven deep with experienced, talented and intelligent players ready to do battle against JSerra (13-0) and St. John Bosco (11-1) when Trinity League play begins [this week],” Sondheimer writes.
• Melisse Djomby Enyawe was at the top of the list when the Daily Pilot released its annual Girls’ Cross-Country Dream Team last week. The student athlete at Corona del Mar High School is said to be a young woman of few words, who lets her speed on the track speak for her. Her coach Bill Sumner described Djomby Enyawe as “easy to coach” and said he’s thrilled to hear she’s aiming to go after the school record in the 800 meters this spring.
LIFE & LEISURE
• Radio host Jim “Poorman” Trenton and his fans returned over the weekend for a 28-hour New Year’s show. According to this Daily Pilot feature on the annual event, the Newport Beach resident whose show is broadcast on KOCI-FM developed the concept in 2020, when pandemic lockdowns precluded most holiday plans and parties. Once word spread of the marathon radio show, sponsors and listeners began signing up to guest host one-hour time slots. “I thought it would be great to do a marathon shift, sort of an Iron Man Ultimate New Year’s party,” Trenton said. “Every year [since] it’s been about 28 hours, and every year I wonder if I’m able to do it again.”
• Brrr: The 24th annual Surf City Splash drew hardy souls to take a dip in the Pacific on New Year’s Day. “It’s a great way to kick off the year,” George Manyak, an events coordinator with the North Orange County chapter of nonprofit Surfrider Foundation told Daily Pilot reporter Matt Szabo. The Splash is a fundraiser for the Foundation, with funds raised earmarked for Surfrider programs like developing ocean-friendly gardens and restaurants, an ocean water-testing program and a cigarette-butt recycling program, Manyak said.
• The Philharmonic Society of Orange County presents “An Evening with Itzhak Perlman” on Wednesday, Jan. 24. Curated by Dan Sullivan and produced by Elliott Forrest, the night will feature Perlman on the violin and Rohan De Silva on the piano. There will be a pre-concert lecture at 7 p.m. by KUSC’s Brian Lauritzen, followed by a unique multimedia program at 8 p.m. at Segerstrom Center for the Arts, 600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa. Ticket prices start at $58 and there are a limited number of box seats available for purchase. Call the Philharmonic Society box office at (949) 553-2422 or order online. Tickets are also available from the Center’s box office at (714) 556-2787.
• Bowers Museum’s free International Festival of Chocolate takes place this Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Lee Scott Theisen, the Chocolate Guru, will offer “A Brief History of Chocolate” and a chocolate-tasting session at 11 a.m. in the museum’s Key Courtyard. The family-friendly festival includes art activities, face painting and performances from Mexico and Hawaii. Gourmet chocolates from various vendors will be offered, and there will be a student art exhibition from Santa Ana Unified School District. Bowers Museum is located at 2002 N. Main St. in Santa Ana.
KEEP IN TOUCH
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