Piece of Mind: In praise of our zippy number

On July 1, 1963 a new mail coding system, the Zoning Improvement Plan, was launched by U.S. Postmaster General J. Edward Day. La Cañada, approximately 15 years before it was incorporated as the city of La Cañada Flintridge, was assigned the ZIP code 91011.

Upon incorporation, Flintridge gave up its 91103 ZIP and joined the rest of us in 91011-land. And so we’ve remained, one happy family for all these years.

My memory is fuzzy on the subject, since I was a kid at the time, but I seem to recall that there was a flurry of chatter around here that summer of 1963 centering on the belief that we were the only town in the nation with consecutive numbers in its ZIP.

People who like to study quirky little things like this might appreciate the fact that we did a little research this week with help from Richard Maher, spokesman with the U.S. Postal Service. He discovered for us that there are actually four active ZIP codes today that run in numerical sequence. They are:

12345 — Schenectady, New York

23456 — Virginia Beach, Virginia

45678 — Scottown, Ohio

91011 — Us!

So we’re a small group. But our ZIP Code is especially unique in that it affords us the opportunity to give a nod to our ZIP this year over the weekend of Sept. 10. In fact, there’s a committee headed up by Todd Andrews that’s charged with organizing a 9-10-11 event here, with the city, civic organizations, facilities like the Community Center and Y, businesses, and venues such as Descanso Gardens all coordinating their efforts to celebrate life in the 91011.

I had a visit the other day from Councilmember Laura Olhasso, who clued me in on some of the activities the committee is organizing — with the caveat that it is all still very much in the planning stages, so there may be additions or subtractions to what I’ve learned so far.

But I think it’s safe to say it will be cool event, one that will let us pause to recognize the fact that we live in a one-of-a-kind place. Spread out over Sept. 9 through 11 there will be music, opportunities to volunteer your time to pitch in and do civic-minded work, special offerings at local businesses and more, all in the 91011.

One of the more unusual ideas Laura was telling me about is the “community table,” whereby residents will be able to enter drawings at local eateries in the weeks before Sept. 9-10-11. If their name is selected, they’ll be able to enjoy dinner at a community table at that particular restaurant during the event.

Unfortunately, the days that are reflected in our ZIP Code also fall within the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. As has been true in recent years, there will be an appropriately somber event marking that day, pulled together by the Young Republican Club, which will hopefully have some assistance from the young Democrats.

The following Thursday, the city will continue on the 9-10-11 theme when it hosts its mixer in Olberz Park.

And we had another suggestion from Maher at the Postal Service: For no cost, Maher told us, the post office will prepare a rubber ink stamp and will postmark anything that carries a stamp. The city can request that a picture or graphic — such as the city seal — will be included as part of that postmark. They’ll even stamp commemorative programs for the event — if, of course, the city’s willing to put a 44-cent stamp on each of them.

Food for thought, committee members. For if we don’t help keep the U.S. Postal Service in business, we won’t need our ZIPPY number anymore.

CAROL CORMACI is the managing editor of the Valley Sun. She can be reached at ccormaci@valleysun.net or carol.cormaci@latimes.com.

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