Corona del Mar Today: Flag 'family' decorates for Fourth of July

A group of volunteers cruised Corona del Mar early on the Fourth of July, installing about 120 flags along East Coast Highway to celebrate Independence Day.

"God bless America," Ray Kilz of Balboa Island said while he jogged in a fine mist to install another flag.

The tradition began years ago; the volunteers don't remember exactly when. The group gathers about 6 a.m. seven times a year on patriotic holidays and Sept. 11. They divide into teams, trying to beat their records for installing the flags quickly.

On Wednesday, after about 40 minutes, the group gathered at Pain Du Monde for their traditional coffee break.

"This is family here," said volunteer Vaughn Barnes of Corona del Mar.

Barnes said he was thinking about his son, Andrew Barnes, as he installed the flags. His son is aU.S. Armymedic in Afghanistan.

"I was Skyping him Friday, and I head mortars," Barnes said. "He said he had to go, had to get into a bunker … "

Other volunteers said they were veterans, and others said they loved the United States and freedom.

"I'm a patriot," said Tom Boris of Newport Coast.

"It's an honor," said CdM resident Jacqueline Wittmeyer, who organizes the flag installations. "Everyone who is here wants to be here because it's an honor to them."

Wittmeyer said new flags are always needed, and donors who contribute $100 will receive a certificate from U.S. Rep. John Campbell (R-Irvine).

"Some people make the donation in honor of a new baby or for a birthday," she said.

She also said volunteers are always needed, particularly for removing the flags late in the afternoon. Anyone who is interested is asked to call her at (949) 338-9393.

Other volunteers on the Fourth were David Riley, Tiana Roman, Jim Digrado, Mike Lesher, Steve Jelnick, Giana Giannulli, Vance Gay and Jeff Adamek.


Little feedback for traffic study

Changes in traffic lanes on East Coast Highway between Avocado and Carnation avenues went into place recently, but so far the study has generated little feedback from the public, city officials said.

"As of 10 o'clock last night, I had heard one comment, and it was favorable," Mayor Nancy Gardner told members of the Corona del Mar Business Improvement District on June 28. "I expect to come back to a box full."

On Monday, however, Gardner said she still hadn't heard much. One person who had contacted her was concerned about parking spaces that have been removed, but Gardner told her that the spaces would be replaced if the project moves forward. A third person said he didn't like the project's aesthetics, which would be improved if it changes were to be permanent.

Garen Yegenian, owner of Korker Liquor store, has a front-line view of the new merge location, which is in front of his shop at 2229 E. Coast Hwy. He said several of his customers have complained about the project, and one man said it contributed to a minor traffic collision.

Newport Beach police have taken no reports of traffic collisions near the traffic study, said spokeswoman Kathy Lowe. However, a minor collision might not have come to the Police Department's attention.

City staff has received a few calls about the project, said city spokeswoman Tara Finnigan.

But most of the callers, she said, had general questions and were not complaining. City staff is monitoring the traffic flow by driving through the site as well as observing live traffic feeds from a camera.


Unique bicycle display at CdM Florist

Corona del Mar Florist's latest window display features an old-school bicycle with a wire basket stuffed with red, white and blue flowers — half in and half out of the shop, as if it were riding through the glass.

"People are stopping," said owner Karen Yould. "They walk by, they look at it, they turn back and look again. We get a lot of junior guards riding past, and they just smile. Some people put their hand up to the glass window to see how it could be going through."

The answer to that is a brother who can weld, said Yould, who decided to make the display after seeing an image online several months ago. She bought the old-fashioned girls bike on Craigslist, and her brother cut it in half and then helped make the stands for the display.

Yould, who has owned the shop since 2007, said that coming up with creative window displays has become a signature.

"Does it sell flowers?" she said her husband asked. "I think at some point it will. People will think of us — the shop with the cute displays."

The shop is at 3337 E. Coast Hwy.

"It's probably going to be part of our Fourth of July tradition," she said, adding that it could return for spring or back-to-school displays.


Sushi restaurant possibly closed for good

The Gen Kai, 3344 E. Coast Hwy., appears to have closed, as the sushi restaurant's awning and sign were removed and a city business license search shows a different restaurant named for the location.

Calls to Gen Kai were not answered, and there was no immediate response to a message seeking information.

Newport Beach business license data show a restaurant called Sota, owned by Sota Akiyama, obtained a license for the location June 6.

A sign in the window states, "We are on vacation. We apologize for the inconvenience."

A search of Newport Beach online business licenses does not show a listing for Gen Kai.

Twitter: @coronadelmartdy

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