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OUR LAGUNA: Hat contest puts fun in library luncheon

Hats off to the supporters of Friends of the Laguna Beach Library.

More than 60 women attended the Ladies Who Lunch . . . and Read Luncheon, which raises funds for the library. Hats and gloves are optional, but a hat contest is part of the fun.

“The hats were beautiful,” said Martha Lydick, perennial president of the Friends.

Stephany Skenderian’s feathery confection won first prize. Michelle Boyd, who created her own hat and the one worn by her boss, Laguna Beach County Water District General Manager Renae Hinchey, took second place. Cynthia Baker’s chapeau won the third prize.


Hat contest and opportunities prizes were donated by Laguna Beach Books owner Jane Hanauer, Tootsies shoe store owner Mimi Dake, galley owner Rebecca Barber and Boyd, who offered a custom-made hat for a prize — won by Education Board member Betsy Jenkins.

The event is the brainchild of Councilwoman Elizabeth Pearson, who never turns down the opportunity to wear a hat, and Lydick.

“Everyone in town should be a friend of the Friends,” Lydick said.

Among the friends at the luncheon: City Treasurer Laura Parisi, Friends board member Sandy Hovanesian, Seniors Inc. past presidents Louise Buckley and Pauline Walpin, Visitors Bureau President Karyn Philippsen, Laguna Beach Live! founder Cindy Prewitt, past Laguna Beach Woman’s Club President Kim Salter, Waste Management’s Michelle Clark, Alice Dawson, Elsa Brissi, Bobbi Weiner, Heather Parker, Nancy Pink, Ruth Stafford, Kate Tschudin and Katherine Stellar, who is heading up the new Friends of the Children’s Library.


Proceeds from the luncheon will benefit programs and purchases of books and materials for the library. The Friends contribute upward of $50,000 a year, about $30,000 just from sales of donated books to the bookstore operated by volunteers under the library.

The Friends contribution will be even more welcome this year because the library and the bookstore will be closed from Aug. 17 to Nov. 16 for renovations to the building at 363 Glenneyre St. on the corner of Laguna Avenue.

“It will affect the circulation count, which is one of the criteria by which the county calculates its financial allocations to the branches, and the money raised by our bookstore,” Lydick said.

This comes at a time when property taxes are down and, as a result, county funding for the library is expected to dwindle.

Donations of books or cash are always welcome.

The Friends also raise funds through $20-a-year membership fees and the annual dinner and book auction.

Laguna’s library branch is part of the county’s system. The Laguna Beach Library Building Assn. was formed in 1955 and morphed into the Friends of the Library.

From its beginning, the library has been a community project.


According to a “Short History of the Laguna Beach Library,” available at the branch, Laguna was first introduced to the notion of commercial book lending in 1919 when a Mrs. Bafford opened a small alley store at Cedar Way and Jasmine Street.

She charged book borrowers one or two cents a day, unless they came from out of town, in which case she required a $1 deposit per book — even then tourists had to pay the price.

The following year, some Laguna women conferred with County Librarian Margaret Livingstone about establishing a county public library in town.

A Library Board was formed in 1921 by representatives of leading civic groups: the chamber, PTA, Community Club, Laguna Beach Woman’s Club and Art Association. A benefit was held on behalf of the library, open to anyone who presented a good book in first-class condition, signed by the donor. Guests came dressed in costumes representing books, such as “Mrs. Wiggs of the Cabbage Patch” or the “The Virginian.”

An estimated 60-70 books were donated, stored on shelves at the Putnum Studio on Forest Avenue. Miss Leota Way served the reading public during the hours the photographic studio and curio business was open.

In 1925, the Library Board bought a piece of property with a small building on Glenneyre Street, near the current site. They paid $2,500.

By 1939, a reading room had been added, and book circulation had reached 60,000 volumes as year.

In the last half of the 20th century, two new libraries were built. A 2,200-square-foot facility built in 1953 was outgrown by the 1970s, when the present building was constructed. The 10,000-square-foot building also houses the Laguna Beach Chamber of Commerce.


For more information about the Friends, to join or to make a donation, call (949) 497-7053.


The Laguna Board of Realtors and Affiliates can savor the success of the annual Taste for Charity, which raised funds for seven local charities and two scholarship winners.

Local restaurants donated tasty treats from their menus and artists contributed their works to the silent auction to fill the pot for the board’s Charitable Assistance Fund event, held recently at Tivoli Too. Proceeds will be distributed to No Square Theatre, CPS Youth Shelter, First Thursday buses, Laguna Beach Community Clinic Sally’s Fund and the Laguna Beach Woman’s Club. Scholarship winners will be announced at the annual Laguna Beach High School Honors Convocation on June 5.

“The Realtors do wonderful work,” said Marion Jacobs, a board member of two of the beneficiaries, No Square and the Woman’s Club. “We are so honored.”

Sally’s Fund Executive Director Sally Rapuano, clinic board member and No Square founder Bree Burgess Rosen, were also among the folks sampling the goodies, along with artists Julita Jones, Patricia Whiteside and Iris Adams, who donated works for the silent auction.

“The food was great this year,” said Randy Kraft, staff member of Friendship Shelter.

K’ya restaurant offered guava-barbecued meatballs and fresh strawberries dipped in sour cream and brown sugar, overseen by owner Chris Keller and Amy Amaradio. Las Brisas delighted palettes with Callito Tamiqueno scallops and sautéed shiitaki mushrooms in a spicy chardonnay, lemon butter and garlic sauce, and Pstelito de Jaiba — mini crab corn cakes served over cucumber slaw, with chipotle tartar sauce topped with mango relish.

Chefs from Splashes restaurant in the Surf & Sand prepared seared ahi tuna with saffron aioli and tapenade, rounded out with cheesecake lollipops.

Skewers also were used for Mozambique’s chicken, served with rice and tropical salad and Perri Perri dipping sauce.

Folks sampled Sundried Tomato’s signature Cream of Sundried Tomato Soup and Ti Amo offered lobster tidbits, while Thai Brothers whipped up a batch of hot noodles.

The Crab Zone came up with calamari and shrimp toast and the Beach House served salmon salad and blackened shrimp Tostitos — mini tostados.

A variety of cheeses were displayed by Culinary Arts and a variety of wines were sold by the glass.

Coffee and desserts were available courtesy of Laguna Coffee, presided over by Sande St. John.

In addition to organizing the event, Realtors also contributed art for the silent auction. Prizes were awarded to Nick Church, Michael LaRiche and Tara Blair.

Nancy Pooley chaired the event for the charitable fund.

Among the tasters: Mayor Kelly Boyd, charitable fund President Gary Boisen, Steve and Liza Stewart, Ann MacDonald, Insurance broker Pat Freeman, Exchange Club member Dwayne Bickel, Andy Anderson, Johanna and Laguna Beach Historical Society President Gene Felder, the Rev. Colin Henderson, Realtor Rick Gold, and Bob Chapman and his wife, photographer Faye Chapman.

Also: City Clerk Martha Anderson, Festival of Arts board member Anita Mangels, Realtor Bobbi Cox, Michelle Boyd and Susi Q Senior Center Capital Campaign Co-Chair Darcy Bickel, all of whom also attended the Friends of the Library Luncheon earlier that day.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Write to Barbara Diamond, P.O. Box 248, Laguna Beach, 92652; call (949) 380-4321 or e-mail