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.
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.
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.
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!
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.”
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Check out page 22-23 of the April HomeTown News for more photos from the race!
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 email@example.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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
As the Westchester Town Center BID Ambassador, it’s Steve Rhodes job to know all the businesses in the Westchester business district, and there’s one that he knows particularly well: Soundsations. The music enthusiast says he stops in three to four times a month to check out the local record store’s inventory, which includes vinyl, DVDs, CDs and T-shirts.
“I don’t know what I’d do if this place didn’t exist,” said Steve who has lived in Playa del Rey since 1990. “I think music should be available to everyone and having a record store close by is awesome. I always find records here that I haven’t seen in ages, or forgot existed, and albums that are hard to find.”
As the dad of two sons, Jaren, 17, and Jacob, 12, stopping into the shop with his kids has been a great way to share his passion for music and find new bands that they can all enjoy listening to.
“I could come in here all the time,” said Steve as he reminisces about some of his favorite albums. “I can get lost in here. You end up getting into random conversations with people about music and that’s half the fun.”
Steve loves Soundsations and thinks you will, too. Check out Soundsations for all your music needs at 8701 La Tijera Blvd. in Westchester.
Pictured:Soundsations co-owner, Lee Wilson, and Steve Rhodes (right) show off some of their favorite albums.
Does your favorite local business deserve a shout out? Send us an email at email@example.com for a chance to share your favorite hometown spots with our readers.
Sign-ups are now open for the Second Annual Rock Roll & Run for Education presented by the LAX Coastal Education Foundation in partnership with Loyola Marymount University. The event will take place on Saturday, March 9 starting at 8 a.m. on the campus of LMU.
This timed fun run (with a music theme) brings together 21 local schools for a festive day of friendly-competition with the proceeds benefiting education. Last year, $60,000 was raised and organizers are hoping to surpass this number in 2019. More than just a race, the community event also features a race expo with community booths, free food,giveaways, live music, a costume contest and more. Organizers also say there are a few new additions and surprises for the 2019 race.Continue reading →