COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

In times past, people walked to school or work and went to the drugstore for a soda pop or an ice cream cone. There were no flat-screen TVs, Internet dating, e-mails, text messages, missiles, nuclear bombs or Starbucks. Mom generally stayed home and took care of the kids and Dad would go off to work. Families felt safe enough to leave their doors and windows open at home when they went out.

If one were to go to the Americana on Brand most any weekend, I believe that “bygone” period is alive and well. Just stop and smell the roses and you will see families hand in hand with their children walking and shopping the park. Parents and grandparents are at the playground area watching their kids on the jungle gym equipment with smiles.

It is such a simple idea to see people stroll around the half-acre park without a worry or care. Sure, we are in a recession, but any feelings of insecurity are left at home or parked in a parking lot. Small infants in strollers are being pushed by family members, and teenagers are giggling and staring at each other.

Ding, ding, ding goes the trolley. Kids and bigger kids come on and off the trolley. Kids in pony tails and some bigger kids with gray hair are gazing at what is going around the Americana. A good feeling to be a part of something significant.

I knew the Americana at Brand was going to be a special place when I noticed, some time ago, that people of all colors and nationalities would sit and relax around the fountain and watch the festival of water. White people, black people, Asians, Filipinos, Armenians, Persians and Latinos are all sharing space with their neighbors.

Cameras abound at the Americana. Funny, I do not think Rick Caruso ever thought a camera store would fit in at the Americana. Viewing people taking their out-of-town guests to the Americana has become a common happening — thus confirming my feelings again that the Americana at Brand would become a tourist destination. What a wonderful place to spend an afternoon or evening dining or shopping. Sure, some of the restaurants and shops are upscale. So what? Sometimes, it is nice to just splurge on a special-occasion meal or buy your loved one a specialty gift not found at the Glendale Galleria.

Critics say that the Americana is too expensive to shop, dine or even be a resident there. To those critics, I guess Brand Boulevard of Cars should close up shop, because one cannot afford to buy a BMW or Lexus. Should Whole Foods Market be closed because it is too expensive for some people? No, in a city of our size, it is great to know that if one studies and works hard, he or she can choose to spend money anywhere he or she wishes?.?.?.?be it at the Americana, Galleria or Whole Foods Market.

Recently, I have read where the Glendale Galleria and the Americana are going to bury the hatchet and “make nice” (“Galleria, Americana make up,” Nov. 28). Someday in the near future, I see both enterprises working together for their mutual benefit. Perhaps a medieval drawbridge between the Americana and Galleria would tie the two companies together as one. A marriage between the Americana and Galleria would be good for the city. As more people shop in Glendale, tax revenues will increase, making it possible to utilize those revenues to improve our quality of life.

The “people's park” is now at the Americana at Brand. Since its opening in May, there always seems to be something thrilling going on to draw people to this venue. People come from as far away as West Los Angeles, the San Fernando Valley and the San Gabriel Valley. There are pleasurable things to see and do, i.e., observing the beautiful architecture, landscaping and city lights, hearing toddlers crying for attention or listening to singers sing songs of the Christmas season or from the movie “Mamma Mia!” Mr. and Mrs. Santa Claus arrived with fireworks a week before Thanksgiving to bring on the shopping season. Hanukkah was celebrated as well. Approximately 25,000 people attended the festivities, and more would have attended if it were bigger. And let us not forget the enthusiasm of watching the USC Marching Band perform in the park recently.

Who knows what events and excitement there well be in the upcoming years at the Americana? Critics are still complaining that the city gave Caruso too much money to get his project off the drawing board and to completion. Against all odds, Caruso persevered. The critics of the Americana were the same ones who thought ill of the Galleria back in the 1970s or of the revitalization of Brand and Central Avenue. Would less money given to a developer give us something to be as proud of as the Americana at Brand? Who knows? Only time will tell, but from the enthusiasm and excitement of the thousands of people who go to the Americana weekly and surrounding businesses, one can only say that our city fathers did something right.


?MIKE MOHILL is a Glendale resident.

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