A set of Corona del Mar triplets who are frequently seen about town in matching outfits with matching long blonde hair are the stars of a runaway hit "Swagger Wagon" series of advertisements.
Sienna, Jaden and Tegan Brown, 4 1/2 years old, star in the Toyota spots that have gone viral with more than 5 million views on one YouTube clip. That clip features a suburban family of four, the parents rapping about parenthood and the joys of owning the Sienna minivan.
The music video is a black-and-white clip that's a cross between Flight of the Conchord's "Hiphop-Potamus" and the television hit show "Modern Family." The logo is a necklace bling with a pacifier dangling from it, and lyrics include the father singing: "I roll hard through the streets and the cul-de-sacs/Proud parent of an honor roll student, Jack/I got a swing in the front, a tree house in the back/My number one dad mug says, 'Yeah, I'm the mack.'"
Throughout, the Brown girls take turns sipping tea, asking to go potty and busting moves. Jaden's dance was impromptu after watching the adults dance, but it looked so great that the director cleared the set and filmed her moves.
"Everybody was just floored," said Brittany Mason, the girls' mom. "She hasn't had dance lessons. We couldn't believe it. She was just in her element, having a blast."
The girls began modeling shortly after their last birthday, Mason said. Two of her older sons had been modeling for years after being spotted around town, and their agent, Paloma Jackson of the Jet Set agency, said to let him know when the girls were ready.
Their first job was for Dunkin' Donuts late in 2008, then a year later they filmed a commercial for H&R Block.
"We go there, and there was a giant sprinkler system hooked up to a fire hydrant," Mason said. "The girls were going to run through a downpour of rain. I thought, 'Are you kidding me?' But they had little raincoats, little umbrellas, little boots, and they ran through the rain for two and a half hours and they loved it."
The Toyota audition was a week later, and the girls were called back and used during the auditions for the parent characters. The filming took two weeks, and based on the ad's success, they returned for more filming in March, Mason said.
Triplets work well on long shoots because they can give the children regulated breaks and not interrupt filming, Mason said. The boy in the ads also was triplets, she said.
The girls love modeling. "They love wardrobe, they love hair and makeup — what little girl doesn't love hair and makeup?" Mason said.
All the money the children earn goes straight to a college fund, which Mason said will be helpful with six kids in the family.
Smoking ban could include parks — but not sidewalks, for now
Newport Beach soon could see a smoking ban at public parks and other outdoor recreational areas, but plans to ban smoking outside restaurants and bars or on public sidewalks will likely not be part of any near-term proposal.
At the Monday meeting of the Environmental Quality Affairs Committee, the group discussed its ongoing efforts to expand the city's smoking ban. Currently, smoking is not permitted on beaches, piers, public floats, public wharfs, or at Inspiration and Lookout points.
But, as City Councilwoman Nancy Gardner said, "You can smoke any time, any place in any park that you want."
Some committee members said that adding the parks ban made sense.
"It protects kids and it doesn't have an economic impact," said Vincent Lepore. "It's a no-brainer."
City staff will now work on language for such additions, which could go beyond parks and trails and possibly include farmers markets, open spaces and other recreational areas. The committee members will review those staff proposals and eventually make a report to the City Council, who will have to vote to approve any changes.
Earlier plans to expand the smoking ban to restaurant patios and sidewalks met with some concern from business owners who worried such plans would cause financial harm.
The group on Monday decided to start with the parks changes and possibly revisit the other, more controversial bans at a later time.
The group also discussed whether there would be a drop in smokers because of such changes, and whether it was realistic to expect police or rangers to be able to enforce the changes.
"We will make a difference," said Arlene Greer, the committee chairwoman.
"When we banned them at the beach, we saw a dramatic decrease of smoking on the beach," she said.
Police: Curfew enforcement tied to drop in thefts
Thefts from vehicles are on the decline, and Newport Beach police are crediting a crackdown on curfew violations for the trend.
"We are hopeful this kind of effort gets the word out and makes an impact," said Sgt. Scott McKnight, who was speaking to a Neighborhood Watch group on Tuesday.
So far, the curfew detentions appear to be working, according to look at recent crime statistics.
From Aug. 1 to 15, police took reports of 13 burglaries or thefts from vehicles compared with 37 reports during the same days in July.
For all of July, police took 67 reports, down from 91 in May, said Andi Querry, crime prevention specialist for the Newport Beach Police Department.
In the first 15 days of August, officers made 26 curfew detentions, she said.
Newport Beach municipal code states that no one under the age of 18 should "loiter or idle in or upon the public streets, alleys, parks, playgrounds or other public places, vacant lots or other unsupervised places" between 10 p.m. and 6 a.m.
"We have great discretion," McKnight said. "We aren't going to bother a 17-year-old couple having a malt at Ruby's after a show."
But the curfew laws allow police to target juveniles who gather on Newport Beach streets for the single purpose of "car hopping."
"They go on Facebook and say, 'Let's go car hopping in Newport tonight,'" Querry said. "Everybody's doing it now."
Car hopping is when thieves walk down the street, flicking door handles on doors to see which are unlocked.
"If they find one open, that's what they are taking," McKnight said. Juveniles can make up to $1,000 in one night, police said.
Car hoppers generally are not arriving from outside the community but rather are local kids, Querry added.
Police said that you should always remove valuables from your vehicle, or put things in your trunk before you arrive at your destination and could be observed. If possible, you should park in a locked garage, and you should always lock your car doors.
Police also urge you to call them if you see suspicious activities.
Last month, police say a Corona del Mar resident's call about a car alarm led to the arrests of five juveniles and one 18-year-old person in connection with vehicle thefts on Orchid Avenue.
Also last month a Corona del Mar man interrupted a thief breaking into his car on Jasmine Avenue, and police later arrested five people in connection with that crime.