La Cañada’s most beloved athlete is Kate Hansen. Her Twitter profile says, “I know all of Beyonce's choreo by heart and I wear spandex for a living.” Her pre-luge dance warm ups have gone viral. Small wonder that our mother ship, the Los Angeles Times, described Kate as “the Olympics' most charming athlete.”
Last week, while Kate raced in the women’s single luge event in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, back home in La Cañada, her family’s restaurant, Los Gringos Locos, was decorated with bunting and signs that said “Go Kate Go.”
The signs transformed my morning drive down Foothill Boulevard. Most mornings, I listen to the radio versions of CNN, Fox, or CSPAN. You know how it goes. Scandal. Scandal. Scandal. Fear. Fear. Fear. And then, as I passed the Hansens’ restaurant, my focus would shift to something grander — the love extended to the Hansen family for their Kate.
A disclaimer. I am not a Mormon. I don’t wear spandex for a living. But the Hansens have been on our radar for many years.
Years ago, before Kate was born, before the restaurant existed, one of the Hansen brothers began to donate a unique set of items for the local Latter-day Saints auction.
The auction was nothing short of amazing. The goal was to raise money for youth programs, including a couple of Boy Scout troops. Our son, also not a Mormon, was a member of one of those troops. His leader was the late Dr. Charles Broberg, a true role model.
That’s why our whole family attended the annual LDS auction. Year after year.
The auction was totally fun. Every two years the same set of drums would reappear, when the current owner or his parents tired of the instrument. The drums didn’t go for much, but the high bidder usually was a 10-year-old boy whose parents may or may not have been aware of the purchase, until it was too late.
There were baskets of home-grown vegetables and certificates for various services: free haircuts by Dr. Broberg, someone to mow your lawn, plant your vegetable garden or to bake you a pie. There were world class, made-from-scratch baked goods and frozen casseroles.
Some of the auction items were expensive, others were not. Little kids would bring a used toy, price it at 50 cents, and it would be displayed at the auction. Sometimes it was a goldfish or a Barbie. All ages participated. It was a lesson in responsibility.
The most notable items each year, eagerly awaited by my husband, were the six bottles of limited edition Hansen BBQ sauce. Six separate auction items. Hotly contested.
The bottles were professionally sealed, with commercial labels, a promise of the riches within. If you’ve never paid $80 for an 8-ounce bottle of BBQ sauce, you simply haven’t lived. The annual bidding war for the Hansen BBQ sauce was the highlight for several of the husbands, including mine.
One year, Len was high bidder for four of the six bottles. I was embarrassed, but then the other dads started backslapping him and stating their congratulations.
Men. Go figure.
I thought of the good old days at the LDS auction last week, as I drove down Foothill Boulevard, past the Hansens’ restaurant with the red, white and blue bunting. I saw the signs that proclaimed the Hansens' love for Kate, and I knew that those signs were also a gift to all of us. They remind us that it's not just about winning, it's all about the love.
Kate Hansen, you are awesome. You did us proud. Keep on dancing!
ANITA SUSAN BRENNER is a longtime La Cañada Flintridge resident and an attorney with Law Offices of Torres and Brenner in Pasadena. Email her at email@example.com and follow her on Twitter @anitabrenner.