Category Archives: Entertainment

Community Spotlight: Westchester Elks Club

Classic and vintage cars from the 20s to the 70s will be the main attraction at the Westchester Elks 20th Annual Car Show & Chili Cook Off this month, and while organizers hope attendees check out the craftsmanship, the fins and the paint jobs, they’re also eager for community members to learn what the Elks are all about.


“People come to the lodge and aren’t familiar with what the Elks do. We’re not just a bunch of retirees hanging out and talking about the old days,” said Lisa Levine, who is leading the Car Show for the third year in a row. “We’re doing community events, and there’s a lot of charity stuff that we do, like working with Safe Place for Youth, Veterans, making care packages and providing scholarships.”

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GET READY FOR WAM!

Music, Art & Community Combine at Westchester’s All-Day Block Party

Enjoy the last weekend of summer by heading down to Emerson Avenue for one of the community’s most popular family-friendly events—the Westchester Arts and Music Block Party (WAM)! Featuring more than a dozen musical acts, food trucks, kids activities, community booths, a beer & wine garden and more, the event is a chance for an all-day hang-out session with friends you bring with you, and people you meet along the way.

“We’re stoked for this year’s event,” said event producer John Sharpe. “We have some great music and entertainment acts lined up, a bunch of great food options and the best beer & wine garden around! Make sure you don’t miss out. You’re bound to run into your friends and neighbors, whether you’re rocking out to a band or doing arts & crafts with your kids. The event is all about celebrating our community and supporting the Emerson Avenue Community Garden, and in our fourth year, we’re thrilled that WAM is becoming a Westchester tradition.”

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Our 2019 Best Of results revealed!

We love our community and enjoy celebrating its people, places and events each month in the pages of the Westchester/Playa HomeTown News.

Our Best Of Readers’ Poll is our super-sized way to highlight all the best things about living and working in  Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and Marina del Rey. With so many excellent restaurants, businesses and organizations in the area, we love giving you—our readers—an annual opportunity to vote for your favorites. You are the real experts and you’ve been helping us honor these outstanding individuals and businesses since 2012. Thank you for being a part of recognizing those who make our community a special place to live, work and visit.

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Inaugural Mother Son Prom at the Westchester Family YMCA

Moms and their sons had a blast at the sold-out inaugural Mother Son Dance held at the Westchester Family YMCA Annex on Saturday, July 27. The event, which doubled as a fundraiser for the Y’s camp program, featured a DJ, photo booth, raffle prizes, snacks, an ice cream sundae bar and a lot of dance moves! Thanks to ticket sales, enough funds were raised to send six underprivileged kids to Y summer camp.

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Community Spotlight: Ballet Beyond Borders debuts in Westchester for the first time with dance, special events

The community is invited to attend Ballet Beyond Borders special events happening at LMU this month, including dance performances and “Cultural Crossroads–Cultural Diplomacy in a Changing World.” Photo courtesy BBB.

By Sarah Ahern

Nearly 1,200 miles northeast of Westchester lies Missoula, Montana, a river valley town burrowed deep in the Northern Rockies. While it’s often recognized for its lush forests and thriving parks and recreation, Missoula also boasts an impressive cultural hub, housing a vital literary and art scene. Arising from this landscape comes Ballet Beyond Borders (BBB), a global festival that fuses education, diplomacy and creativity amongst artists across cultural and geographic lines through diverse genres of dance. Originally launched at the Rocky Mountain Ballet Theatre headquartered there, Ballet Beyond Borders aims to help youth not only sharpen their artistic craft, but also foster a better understanding of social justice issues faced by groups of people worldwide.

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8th Annual Best Of Voting Now Open!

Vote for your favorite local businesses!

The HomeTown News is proud to present its 8th Annual Best Of Readers’ Poll! Our Readers’ Poll is all about celebrating local small businesses and recognizing some of the best Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista, Del Rey, Marina del Rey and the surrounding areas have to offer! 

This survey contains more than 90 categories and should take about ten minutes to complete. While you don’t have to vote for everything on this list, you must vote in at least 10 categories for your vote to count.

Feel free to encourage your fans, friends and family to vote, but you may only vote once.

The top three vote-getters in each category–The “Best Of” and two runner-up “Favorites”– will be revealed in the Thursday, August 1 Best Of edition of the HomeTown News. 
Thank you for voting!

Vote by clicking HERE and you will be taken to https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/htnbestof19.

Ballona in Bloom!

It might not be a super bloom, but if you love flowers, make sure to check out Playa Vista’s Ballona Discovery Park this month! The two-acre habitat is home to a plethora of native plants and wild flowers now in bloom, creating a colorful display that is uniquely Southern California. Follow the park’s walking trail to view the pollinator, native and medicinal plant gardens, while you learn about the Ballona Wetlands ecosystem and the history of the area in this “outdoor museum.”

California Poppy.

As you admire the colorful flowers, smell the different varieties of sage or do a little birdwatching, take time to read the interpretive signs and stop at the interactive stations located throughout. No visit to the park is complete without traveling through the “Willow Walk,” which leads visitors to the entrance of a Kiiy, a replica of a native Gabrielino/Tongva gathering house where you can listen to audio recordings of stories about the first people of the area.

Bladderpod.
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Calling all community support for the Fourth of July Parade!

Interested in participating in the 20th anniversary of the Fourth of July Parade? Organizers are looking for community support to help make this Westchester tradition the best parade yet.

Hosted by the LAX Coastal Chamber, organizers are putting out the call for entries, volunteers and sponsors for this year’s celebration.

“The Fourth of July Parade was only supposed to be a one-time event to celebrate the millennium,” said LAX Coastal Chamber President/CEO Christina Davis. “So the fact that we’re now celebrating our 20th anniversary says a lot about the dedication of our volunteers and our community that supports this tradition year after year. It’s a special feeling to see Loyola Blvd. lined every July 4th with families, neighbors and people from across the city, and we’re dedicated to putting on an entertaining event for them.”

Applications to participate in the parade are due by May 17. Floats are especially encouraged, as well as entries with musical numbers. As this is a milestone year for the event, organizers are asking potential participants to put extra thought and creativity into their applications.

The theme for the 2019 parade is “America…Better Together” and symbolizes the importance of working together and focusing on what unites us to make a stronger community and nation.

For more information about participating, please visit laxcoastal.com/parade or call (310) 645-5151.

Second annual Rock Roll & Run raises money for education

More than 2,000 families, students and community members came out to support local schools at the LAX Coastal Education Foundation’s (LAXCEF) 2nd Annual Rock Roll & Run in collaboration with Loyola Marymount University on Saturday, March 9.

1K runners start the race.

The event raised funds for 21 participating K-12 schools and featured a 5K run around the beautiful campus of LMU, a 1K kid’s race and a lively expo. More than 40 community organizations, businesses and sponsors had booths at the event, which featured free food, a photo booth, arts & crafts, kids’ activities and giveaways, while music from classic rock tribute band Ab-soul-ute played in the background. 

The Rock Roll & Run is the ed foundation’s premier fundraiser and is the only event that brings together all interested local schools for a chance to raise money for programs like P.E., art and field trips.

“We hope everyone had a great time at the event, whether they had a chance to participate in the 5K or 1K, or attended the expo,” said LAXCEF President Andrew Chereck. “We’re proud to have raised more than $80,000 that will go back to our local schools who increasingly need the support of the community and partners like our foundation to be able to fund important school programs. We look forward to continuing to raise more money in the future.” 

Runners warm up before the 5K at LMU.

The foundation, which launched in 2017, supports all local schools–public, private, charter and parochial–in the Westchester, Playa del Rey, Playa Vista and Marina del Rey areas. The foundation’s primary goals include aiding schools through fundraising, distributing grants and creating strategic partnerships. Since its inception, the foundation has given back more than $165,000 to local schools in direct funds and grants. Most recently, $15,000 in arts and beautification grants were awarded to nine schools. The foundation is kicking off the spring season accepting applications for STEM grants in partnership with SoCalGas and will announce literacy and teacher development grants in the coming months. 

LAXCEF also supports the Teacher Eddy Awards, Teacher Mini-Grants, hosts the School Expo and is always looking for partners to collaborate with for future projects.

For more information, please visit laxcef.org or email info@laxcoastaledfoundation.com.

Check out page 22-23 of the April HomeTown News for more photos from the race!

Posted April 2019. Photos by Zsuzsi Steiner.

Twenty years of parades and community

One thing we can all agree on is that our community, and our country, is better when we all work together! This year marks the 20th anniversary of the LAX Coastal Fourth of July Parade, and organizers have selected, “America…Better Together” as the 2019 theme. With the goal of celebrating what connects us and promoting unity, the theme represents that working together makes us a stronger, more diverse and prosperous nation.

“The parade is such a positive community event, and with our 20th anniversary, we really wanted to highlight that great things can be accomplished when everyone comes together for common goals and collaboration,” said LAX Coastal Chamber President/CEO Christina Davis. “Our parade wouldn’t be possible without volunteers, neighbors, sponsors and our participants, and we’re excited to celebrate what unites us all as members of our community, our city and our country.”

Applications for participating in this year’s event are available at laxcoastal.com/parade and are due by May 17. Entries that include building a float and a musical component are especially appreciated. 

Organizers are also looking for the National Anthem singer for this year’s event. Auditions will be held in April, and those interested in a tryout are asked to email info@laxcoastal.com for more info.

“Since it’s an anniversary year for the parade, we’re working on a few special surprises for our community and spectators,” said Davis. “We’re also looking to book more musical entries and entertainment to make this our best year yet.”

To help commemorate the parade’s anniversary, the HomeTown News is holding an essay contest. Those interested in participating are asked to submit a 500-word or less essay answering “How is the Fourth of July Parade an important part of the fabric of the community?”; “How does the Fourth of July Parade bring the community together?” or “Why and what do you love about the Fourth of July Parade?” 

Essays are due by Thursday, May 30, and two will be selected for publication in the July Parade edition of the HomeTown News. The writers of the winning essays will also receive a gift card to a local restaurant. Please email the essays to westchesterhometown@yahoo.com.

Posted February 2019.