Around Town: Last ‘Free Wednesday’ at Orange Coast College’s planetarium is May 25

The Orange Coast College's planetarium is celebrating its third year in operation.
(Scott Smeltzer / Staff Photographer)

Each Wednesday throughout the month of May, Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa has extended a free out-of-this-world opportunity for the public to visit and enjoy its new planetarium from 2 to 3 p.m.

Visitors can spend an hour of relaxation and watch the universe slowly drifting by on a 50-foot projection screen during a “Space Out Meditation Hour.” The last installment takes place this Wednesday at OCC, 2701 Fairview Road, in Costa Mesa.

For more information on events and opportunities, visit or contact Director Scott Mitchell at or (714) 714-7430. The site is open to the public on Saturdays from 1 to 5 p.m.

Freedom Committee of Orange County announces 2022 essay contest winners

The Freedom Committee of Orange County, a nonprofit organization of veterans that seeks to educate youths about military history, recently announced the winners of its 2022 Fred M. Whitaker Memorial Essay Contest.

The competition invited Newport-Mesa Unified School District juniors and seniors to pen 350 to 500 words on a persuasive discussion on “why the defense of freedom and liberty is a generational responsibility.” Prizes of $500 were offered to each high school, with a $1,000 award for the top essay.

Announced Monday, the winners are Helena Yuahan Sun, of Early College High School; Eduard Ventura, of Estancia High School; and Jose Toscano, of Costa Mesa High School. Brandon Hart, who attends NMUSD’s virtual Cloud Campus, received the top prize.

The winners received their awards and certificates Thursday in a ceremony at the Veterans Honor Walk at Heroes Hall on the O.C. fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. Coast Guard veteran Jon S. Williams and James Grimm, a Vietnam War veteran and co-chairman of the Freedom Committee, presented the awards.

Fred Maynard Whitaker was an infantry rifleman in the U.S. Army during World War II. He was just 17 when he enlisted in June 1943 and would go on to be awarded a Purple Heart, along with numerous medals and foreign decorations, including the French Legion of Honor. Whitaker died in June 2021 at the age of 95.

Online event celebrates Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage

The Orange County Department of Education on Tuesday will host an online colloquium “Know My Name, Face and Story,” featuring a panel of distinguished speakers who will share personal stories and perspectives on building student agency, strengthening democracy and fortifying the workforce.

Participants include: Anaheim Union High School District teacher Jeff Kim, who also conducts lectures at California State University, Fullerton; Isaac Huang, a principal at Conejo Valley Unified School District and executive board chair for the California Assn. of Asian and Pacific Leaders in Education; Kimmie Tang, associate professor of Special Education and Early Childhood at Biola University’s School of Education; and Tu-Uyen Nguyen, associate professor of Asian American Studies at CSU, Fullerton.

Teachers, counselors, administrators, parents and all those who educate and support students are encouraged to attend the free event, which begins at 3:30 p.m. Register at

2 Orange County business leaders appointed to Sherman Foundation board

Sherman Library & Gardens announced Thursday the appointment of James “Walkie” Ray and Peter Rooney to the Sherman Foundation Board of Trustees, an eight-member panel that oversees operations at the Corona del Mar site.

Ray, a Newport Beach resident, comes from Irvine commercial developer Sanderson J. Ray Development and has served in numerous philanthropic and leadership positions with nonprofits countywide. Rooney, a graduate of UC Berkeley, has a long track record at Sares-Regis, an industrial developer whose portfolio he’s helped grow for the last 25 years.

“We are pleased and excited to welcome Walkie and Peter to the Sherman Foundation Board of Trustees,” Sherman Foundation President Gary Pickett said in a news release Thursday. “Both individuals bring with them extensive expertise and leadership to guide and advance the mission of Sherman Library & Gardens and propel the organization into the future as one of Orange County’s premier education and cultural destinations.”

Newport Beach Summer Concerts on the Green schedule announced

The Newport Beach Arts Commission announced the schedule for its summer Concerts on the Green. The concerts will take place on May 29, June 12, July 17, Aug. 21 and Sept. 18 at the Newport Beach Civic Center. The last concert, scheduled for Oct. 2, will take place at Marina Park.

The concerts are from 6 to 7:30 p.m. and are free to the public with free complimentary parking in the civic center parking structure and central library parking lot.

The Oct. 2 concert will be from 4 to 5:30 p.m. Food trucks will be present to sell dinner and desserts. To see what bands are playing, check the event calendar at

Balboa Bay Resort’s annual Father’s Day Car Show returns June 19

The Father’s Day Car Show at Balboa Bay Resort returns Sunday, June 19, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Present will be a collection of fine cars, music and fun for the entire family at the Balboa Bay Resort at the resort’s upper parking deck.

In addition, there will also be fresh barbecue, cocktails and concessions for purchase. Tickets are not necessary for attendees as the show is complimentary on behalf of the resort.

Wine and Spirits Festival planned for Memorial Day weekend in Newport Beach

The Newport Beach Wine and Spirits Festival is coming up this Memorial Day weekend at the Balboa Bay Resort.

The festival is returning after a nearly two-year-long hiatus. The event will kick off Friday, May 27 at 6 p.m. with a dinner and reception with DAOU Vineyards.

Vendors will be present throughout the festival’s three-day run and tickets start at $125 a person. Combination tickets are also available for guests who wish to attend the full weekend.

The Wine & Spirits VIP Pass includes the Friday Winemaker Dinner and Saturday and Sunday at the festival; the Wine & Spirits Ticket includes Saturday and Sunday admission to the festival. For more information, visit

Foley plans state of the county address Wednesday

Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley will be holding a state of the county address on Wednesday at the Old Orange County Courthouse, 211 W. Santa Ana Blvd. Foley will be delivering updates on countywide accomplishments in the last year and a look ahead to future initiatives.

The program will begin at 11 a.m. and run to noon. It will be followed by a barbecue on the historic courthouse lawn. Residents interested in attending should RSVP at as seating is limited.

LGBTQIA high school seniors invited to apply for scholarships

PFLAG Newport Beach announced earlier this month that they will be awarding up to four $500 scholarships to graduating Class of 2022 LGBTQIA seniors.

Applicants must currently have a 2.0 minimum GPA and be a resident of Orange County. Applications must be received by email no later than June 15. Decisions will be announced July 7 and recipients will be invited to an award ceremony that will take place July 21. The awards are made possible by generous donations by the Blaze Bernstein Memorial Fund/#BlazeItForward and O.C. resident Carrie Williams Freitas.

For more information and to apply, visit

Living with wildlife workshop in Laguna Beach

Laguna Beach residents can attend a workshop on living with wildlife in the Community Room at the Susi Q Center, 380 3rd St.

The event, which is being put on in conjunction with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, will be held from 6 to 7 p.m. on Monday, May 23.

The workshop follows the recent appearance of a mountain lion in town. City officials have since reported that the mountain lion, known as M317, crossed Laguna Canyon Road and headed in the direction of Newport Coast or Irvine on May 11.

Laguna Beach Housing and Human Services Committee schedule

The Laguna Beach Housing and Human Services Committee has altered its schedule and will now meet regularly on the fourth Wednesday of each month at 6 p.m. in the Susi Q Center Community Room.

A Zoom option will not be provided for the meetings.

Laguna Beach lifeguard tryouts coming up

The city of Laguna Beach is taking applications for seasonal ocean lifeguard positions.

Applications should be submitted by 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 2. There will be a three-part physical test conducted on Saturday, June 4 at the Main Beach Lifeguard Tower.

Those participating in the tryouts must be able to complete a 1,000-meter ocean swim in under 20 minutes. There will then be a run-swim-run segment and another involving a sprint and an ocean swim.

Check-in will begin at 7:30 a.m. with the physical tests getting underway at 9 a.m. Proof of vaccination and a physical testing waiver are required to participate.

Daily Pilot staff

Support our coverage by becoming a digital subscriber.