La Cañadans to celebrate once-in-a-lifetime coincidence

At the 9.10.11 in 91011 event this weekend, residents of La Cañada Flintridge will celebrate the unique character of their city on a once-in-a-lifetime coincidence of the date and the local ZIP code.

La Cañada Flintridge’s ZIP code, 91011, is one of just four in the country composed of consecutive numbers, and this Saturday, Sept. 10, 2011, will be the one time this century it matches the date.

Local resident Todd Andrews, chair of the event’s organizing committee, said that the idea for the celebration grew out of on offhand remark made at a cocktail party during the last year’s holiday season.

“Someone remarked that as we’re rolling into 2011, our funny little ZIP code was going to match the date for the only time in the century,” said Andrews. “And everybody, in kind of a cocktail haze, said, ‘Hey, [marking the occasion is] a great idea!”

From these humble beginnings the event has grown, with the aid of funding from City Hall and sponsorship and participation from local businesses, into a weekend-long celebration of La Cañada’s community identity.

The weekend’s events will kick off with a party in Memorial Park from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Friday. Local band Misplaced Priorities will play its high-energy blend of classic rock favorites and pop hits from years past, while food trucks will provide dinner fare.

Andrews said he thought the party would be a success.

“Friday night is a no-brainer. It’s a party in the park, people are going to show up. The band’s going to be great, food trucks are interesting,” said Andrews.

On Saturday, local facilities like JPL, Descanso Gardens, the Lanterman House and social clubs will host open houses, while local businesses will sponsor a Zip-Along-the-Boulevard event with special sales and promotions. Restaurants like Dish and Los Gringos Locos will host community tables on Saturday, and the weekend will close with a 9/11 memorial service on Sunday.

Andrews said that the response from the community was what drove the event’s growth from a remark to a full-on celebration.

“There has not been one organization or business that’s been approached that hasn’t said, ‘Hey that’s a great idea, let’s go with it,’” said Andrews. “It’s actually been kind of reaffirming that people jumped on board.”

Andrews emphasized that the support for the event has come from the ground up.

“Really, it’s been a total grassroots effort,” said Andrews. “Some of the main ideas around the weekend involve institutions and organizations around town, and they’ve all taken on their own events and are spearheading their own grassroots efforts.”

Sue Stranger, owner of Adobe Design on Foothill Boulevard and chairman of the Merchants Connection, said that she was asked to get involved and that it made sense for her and other business owners to participate.

“As a merchant community, we’re hoping we’ll get people out on the boulevard and see what’s available,” said Stranger. “We’re really trying to create boulevard events, get a heartbeat going.”

Local businesses have donated almost $9,000 worth of merchandise to the Zip-Along-the-Boulevard raffle event, Stranger said.

In addition, from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m., the postal service will set up a special postal station at the La Cañada farmers market to hand-stamp mail (with postage) with a custom, 9.10.11 celebration postmark.

“People are really intrigued when they hear someone use ‘La Cañada Flintridge, 9-10-11,’” said Roslyn Strawther, La Cañada Flintridge’s Postmaster, in a statement. “Because the ZIP code is part of the community’s identity, it was natural for the postal service to get involved.”

City Council member Laura Olhasso, who is on the event’s organizing committee, said that by using funds previously set aside for the city’s birthday celebration and obtaining sponsorship from local businesses, the city was able to support the event while keeping costs at a bare-bones minimum, making it an easy decision to get behind.

“I just thought it was a great idea. This only happens once in a century, so we want to celebrate what makes our community so wonderful,” Olhasso said.

Andrews said it was the idea of fostering new connections between La Cañada residents that drove his efforts on the organizing committee, and that he hoped people would participate in more than just celebrating.

“I’m going to be most interested in how many people show up at open houses and take 15 or 30 minutes to do a quick turn on some volunteer work,” said Andrews. “Because the idea was, let’s get people out in the community in ways they don’t normally engage with the community.”

The weekend will close on a more somber note, with a memorial for the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks to be held on their 10-year anniversary. The memorial, which is being organized the Young Republicans of La Cañada Flintridge, will take place in the courtyard of La Cañada Presbyterian Church at 2 p.m., Sunday, Sept. 11.

Andrews said that the 9.10.11 event organizers didn’t want to make a political statement, but that the memorial is one part of the overall La Cañada community being represented by the weekend.

“I’m hoping this gets people to engage with other people that they don’t normally associate with in town and just kind of broadens people’s connections,” said Andrews.


Volunteer opportunities:

La Cañada Flintridge Trails Council; trail maintenance.

Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge; ceramic bowl decoration and glazing for the annual Empty Bowls fundraising project.

La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association; materials preparation.

La Cañada Valley Beautiful; lavender trimming on Foothill Boulevard.

Open Houses:

Descanso Gardens, Verdugo Hills Hospital, Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lanterman House, La Cañada Thursday Club, Assistance League of Flintridge, Flintridge Riding Club, La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Association.

For times, addresses and contact information, visit the 9.10.11 in 91011 website,

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