Our Laguna: Artist alumni come back to town

The Laguna Beach High School Classes of 1971 and 1972 celebrated the 40th anniversary of their graduation last weekend.

Festivities began on Friday.

The alumni attended the Breakers — to many of the alumni they will always be the Artists — home football game on Friday, and watched their team score a 31-17 victory over St. Margaret's — no let down from the 74-19 rout of the Glen Eagles the previous week.

After the game, about 175 of the alumni regrouped at the Dirty Bird, otherwise known as the Sandpiper. Peter Ott and Libby Shackford hosted an Indian Summer Fiesta at their Laguna Canyon home on Saturday for the alums. Guests were checked in by lower class members of the '70s, including Realtor Dede Westgaard-Pike, Diane Judy, Heidi Weingard and Wendy Potter, daughter of Barbara Painter.

Chuck Harrell, the Sandpiper co-owner since 1969, and Skipper Camarillo were special guests.

Dr. Woody White provided the music. Soho Tacos catered the dinner. Desserts were potluck.

"It was amazing," said Glenda Acord Rice, '72, co-chair of the reunion. "It lasted from 4 to about 11 p.m., maybe even midnight —- so everyone had a chance to mingle.

"Everyone I have talked to said it was the best reunion so far," Rice added.

They all had such a good time, it may have cut down on attendance at the picnic at Heisler Park on Sunday, said Rice's sister, Eileen Acord Chadick, class of '71, who still lives in Laguna.

Chadick was at the park by 5:45 a.m. to set up the barbecue, cover the reserved tables and ice the soft drinks.

It was a weekend for reconnecting and nostalgia.

Anne Prigo Potter, '72, reminisced about collecting bottles as a child and turning them in for money so she could go to Orange Julius, located next door to Benton's on Boardwalk.

"I visited my old home, Shaw's Cove and walked the campus before the football game — I didn't like to see it all chained up," said Sherry Ringer, '72, who came from Hawaii for the reunion.

"It was really weird to drive a rental car in my own home town," she added.

"The best part was talking to people and it was like no time had passed — it was easy."

Charlie Schoenleber, '72, who played basketball for the high school up to his junior year and golf in his senior year, came from Carlsbad. He spent some time visiting his mother, Flora Taylor, widow of the late and greatly missed author Ted Taylor.

Monica Richards, '71, lives close enough that she's in town once a week. Alumna Jani Sizelove is another frequent visitor.

Jill Millette, '71, comes from Crestline to Laguna on weekends to work with her brother, jeweler Kirk Millette, class of '75, who owns a store in town and exhibits at the Sawdust Festival.

"I get to spend time at my mom's house when I come to town," said Jill, daughter of Susie Millette, past owner of the Bead Shop on South Coast Highway.

Jill spent some time swimming last weekend.

"We went in the ocean at about 9 a.m. and then again at 2 p.m.," she said. "I had a wonderful time.

"I have been going through my year book, seeing people I knew and some I didn't."

Lynn and Jon Klaasen, both class of '71, came from Lake Havasu. They knew each other in high school, met again at the 20th reunion and have been together ever since.

Linda Kawaratani came the furthest for the reunion — from Japan. She is related to the Kawaratani family, who owned Laguna Nursery for decades. She is Steve Kawaratani's sister.

Many of the out-of-town alumni chose to stay at hotels they remembered, Capri Laguna and the Laguna Riviera.

However reunion organizers said many of the grads still live in Laguna: including Bryan Menne, Chuck Viviani, Karen Hedges, Patty McKeon, Tom Sweany, Kathy Crowley, Mike Mariner, Dirk Van Deusen, Clayton Berryhill and Scott McCarter. Robin Wethe exhibits at the Art-a-Fair.

Also in town for the reunion: Cinda Lutz-Ferguson, 1972 class president Gary Fisette and Scott Sumner.

Jim Stephens,'71, co-chaired the organizing committee with Rice. Committee members included 1972 Homecoming Queen Melissa Almon, and '72 graduates Shackford, White, Prigo White, Jane Rethlefen, Kathy Meehan and '71 graduates Chadick, Dave Northcutt and former Chamber of Commerce President Becky Carey.


Festival Forum Theatre

Speculation that the Festival of Arts would like to demolish or re-purpose the Forum Theater is way dead wrong, according to Laguna Beach Arts Alliance board chair and festival board member Wayne Baglin.

There has been talk that the festival had plans for the space tucked into the hillside across from Tivoli Terrace, perhaps triggered by a persistent lobbying for a performing arts venue.

Baglin said a better location for a performing arts or cultural arts center would be where the tennis courts now stand and the theater just needs fixing.

"The theater's most pressing need is for American Disabilities Act access," Baglin said. "The acoustics also need to be improved — sometimes the sound goes dead — and the sight lines from the side seats to the stage need to be improved."

Originally built as puppet theater, the Forum has morphed over time to a venue for musicals and plays and it needs to be modified, Baglin said.

"It is the ideal size for a lot of uses, but people need to be able to see and hear what they pay for," Baglin said.

The theater seats 240. It has been the venue for several years for "Lagunatics," which the website advises that seats to the far right and left have restricted views. Best advice: Get tickets early.

"Shlock and Awe," the 20th anniversary reprise of past "Roasts of the Coast," opens Oct. 13.

Performances are scheduled for Oct. 14, 19. 20, 21, 26 and 27. The gala will be on Oct. 28.

"Lagunatics," is the brain child of Bree Burgess Rosen. Nothing is sacred.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (714) 966-4618 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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