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On the Town: Arts, music festival in downtown Glendale offers something for everyone

Open Arts & Music Festival
Festival vendor and Glendale resident Vivian Villaneda shows off her “Day of the Dead” skulls going from $25 to $30.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

“The toilets have arrived!”

With those words, Glendale Arts chief executive Elissa Glickman knew the long-planned Open Arts & Music Festival had started and would be a success.

Vince Espinoza, chair of the Glendale Arts board, was up before dawn to ensure that success.

This past Saturday, the free, family-friendly event in downtown Glendale had something for everyone — rock climbing for the kids — and kids at heart — two stages, with Kilo Kish and Nick Waterhouse performing, a Kiwanis book giveaway, an arts market with workshops and nonstop food.


Open Arts & Music Festival
Glendale resident Andrew Bannister and his trusty dog, Dixie, stake out a good place to people watch at the Open Arts & Music Festival.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

Kicking off Glendale TechWeek, the festival started in the forecourt of the Alex Theatre. TeckWeek tote bags and pens were free for the taking. Spotted in front of the Alex marquee was Glendale resident Andrew Bannister, accompanied by his loyal 6-year old male German shepherd/lab mix, Dixie. Both were up for posing for the camera.

Also strolling along the boulevard were Monica and Jose Sierra, looking as if they were on their second honeymoon.

Comic Sue “Purple” Jekarl appeared fancy free as she took a short break from serving beer at the craft beer garden.


Local leaders welcomed the crowd of 15,000 partiers who showed up during the course of the six-hour fest. State Assemblywoman Laura Friedman (D-Glendale) was first to mount the stage. State Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge) and Glendale Mayor Ara Najarian also made their welcome presence known.

Open Arts & Music Festival
Showing no fear at the Open Arts & Music Festival are rock climbers the Villegas sisters Camilla, 8, left, and Penelope, 6.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

At the rock-climbing wall, proud dad Fernando Villegas took a cellphone video of his children. Proving to be brave little climbers were daughters Camilla, 8, and Penelope, 6.

Surely, the coffers of merchants along Brand Boulevard bulged as shoppers took advantage of the availability of their favorite stores and restaurants.

 La Crescenta Woman’s Club Shoe Drive
The La Crescenta Woman’s Club Shoe Drive brought out, from left, shoe donor Harriet Sailors, Club members Stella Plunkett and Marilyn Wright.
(Ruth Sowby Rands)

Since 2006, Soles4Souls has distributed more than 30 million pairs of shoes in 127 countries and all 50 of the United States. Members of the La Crescenta Woman’s Club thought they would begin their own effort and held their first shoe drive for Soles4Souls.

On the clubhouse parking lot this past Saturday, exactly 265 pairs of shoes had been donated by 10:30 a.m. Club members hoped to collect 1,000 pairs before the drive’s closing time at 2 p.m.


“Everyone deserves a good pair of shoes,” was the title of a flier that had been distributed by club members. However, taking advantage of social media, the club’s outreach was wider than the fliers. Publicity on Facebook, Facebook groups, Instagram and Nextdoor brought out dozens of generous folks with shoes to donate.

Harriet Sailors saw a sign advertising the event as she was driving by the clubhouse on La Crescenta Avenue. Living nearby, she collected some shoes from her home and donated a bunch of very nice-looking ones. She admitted some “weren’t too comfortable.”

“I had some shoes that didn’t fit anymore,” said preteen Aaron Aydin. He saw the promo on Facebook and asked his mom to give him a ride to the club, where he left cleats, roller skates and house slippers. Now, Aaron is ready for new athletic shoes for his favorite sports — soccer and basketball.

Hardworking members of the La Crescenta Woman’s Club collecting the shoes were philanthropy chairwoman Michele Pashayi, Carol Huntwork, Rita Even, Marilyn Wright, Carol Stein, and Stella Plunkett. It was also Plunkett’s birthday.

“It’s a good day to give back,” she said.

Huntwork, dropping off at least a dozen pairs, said other local clubs donated the shoes that she delivered. Dozens of empty shoe boxes were donated by DIY Home Center in Tujunga. Helping to arrange the donation was the store’s general manager, Victoria Graves-Fiad.

Soles4Souls creates sustainable jobs and provides relief through the distribution of shoes and clothing around the world.

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