Cinco de Mayo marks the Mexican Army's victory over the French at the
Battle of Puebla in 1862 and, on Sunday, residents of a section of
Newport Coast gathered to celebrate the festive holiday.
About 800 residents of the 1,500-home Newport Coast Community Assn.
congregated at the clubhouse of the Coastal Canyon Park to savor Mexican
fare that included shredded chicken and beef tacos, rice and beans, and
chips and salsa. They also participated in games such as "Hot Potato,"
played with a yellow lizard, had their faces painted and jumped on a
The Walrod family sat a table next to the pool, eating tacos.
"What's not to like, look at the setting," said mother Chris Walrod,
looking out over the pool and surrounding hillsides.
Walrod sat with her two sons, Cooper, 11, and Petey, 10.
"It's a chance to get to know our neighbors," Chris Walrod said.
The association's board of directors came up with the idea for a
celebration last year, said Melodie LaMont, the group's executive
"The idea was to have one event in the spring and one in late summer.
People don't usually go anywhere for [Cinco de Mayo]. We wanted to get as
many people as we could. Joe [Bolich] deserves all the credit."
Bolich serves as facilities administrator for Merit Property
Management, Inc., the company that manages the 5- to 6-acre private park
that opened last June. It contains a clubhouse and pool, three tennis
courts, a tot lot and grass areas. Bolich, lead facilities manager Tyrone
Meixsell and assistant facilities administrator Robert Crandall began
planning for the Cinco de Mayo celebration in January.
Their work included securing five mariachi players, a disc jockey and
emcee, a shuttle service, food and an entertainment company to stage
games for the entire family. Association dues pay the $10,000 price tag,
One game resembled musical chairs, where families walked in a circle
around hula hoops placed on the pavement as "Celebration" by Kool & The
Gang played. When the music stopped, families had to find a circle to
The Greenberg family -- made up of father Bart, mother Allison, and
daughters Kathryn, 4, and Elizabeth, 3, strolled hand-in-hand around the
hoops and were one of two remaining families at the end of the game.
"We knew it would be fun," Allison Greenberg said.
The Greenbergs have lived in Newport Coast for almost five years.
"You see all these people informally, so now you get a chance to see
your neighbors," Bart Greenberg said. "You're always trying to think of
things to keep the kids busy."
The association encompasses 15 subcommunities within Newport Coast.
Sunday's celebration was a welcome sight for Ron Schoenbaum, a
five-year Newport Coast resident and 4-month member of the association.
Schoenbaum watched as a face painter drew a yellow flower on the right
cheek of Schoenbaum's 2-year-old daughter, Hannah.
"It's good they have events like this," Schoenbaum said. "We've had
parties within the development, but haven't had multi-development
[parties] thrown by the master association."
LaMont said she hopes to see similar events keep residents busy.
"I hope this is the first of many [events] to establish a tradition
for the neighborhood," LaMont said.
* Bryce Alderton is the news assistant. He may be reached at (949)
574-4298 or by e-mail at o7 email@example.com .