Celebrating the season! Our picks for the best family-friendly holiday events

If you’re looking to get into the holiday spirit, December is jam-packed with free and low-cost events that will have you humming Christmas carols and researching egg nog recipes in no time.
Whether you’re looking to take a family photo with old St. Nick, view some spectacular lights in Marina del Rey or play in the snow, there’s an event this month to help you celebrate the most wonderful time of the year. Enjoy the magic of the season with these festive holiday happenings in the HomeTown News community!

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Playa del Rey family starts new holiday tradition with Reindeer In Here

Reindeer In Here would not be one of the newest holiday traditions if author Adam Reed didn’t learn to trust his instincts. A television producer by trade, this Playa del Rey resident put everything on the line because he believed strongly in the message of his holiday-themed children’s book, which features a cuddly reindeer with unique antlers: being different is normal.

“Every one of us in the world is different in our own special way,” Adam said. “Different on the inside, different on the outside. Different in our hopes, dreams and desires and those differences should be celebrated.”

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Season of Giving: Local nonprofits share how you can get involved

The holidays are here and as our thoughts turn to family, parties and presents, it also turns to giving back. We recently connected with some of our favorite Westchester/Playa area nonprofit leaders to learn more about their organizations and find out how people can get involved to support these worthwhile causes. Below are our Q&As with the executive directors or board presidents of 7 groups that are passionate about their missions and supporting the community.


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The Book Jewel gets ready to shine in Westchester Triangle

This spring, Westchester will have its very own independent bookstore when The Book Jewel opens its doors on 87th Street. Having a bookstore in Westchester has long been the dream of Drollinger Properties owner, Karen Dial, who has made it her mission to help keep her hometown thriving by championing public art, supporting local causes and serving as the president of the business improvement district. This new space, that serves to connect the community and bring everyone together to appreciate literature, watch a cooking demonstration or enjoy some delicious eats is just another part of her vision for the area.

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LMU seeks changes to Master Plan

This August, Loyola Marymount University filed an application with the city to make changes to its 20-year Master Plan. The plan, which was approved in 2011, allowed for 3,411,000 square feet of total building space on campus, with a maximum total of new construction at 1,779,000 square feet. The square footage was specifically allocated to three categories: academic/administrative buildings (921,000 new square footage), residential (761,000 new square footage) and indoor athletics (97,000 new square footage).

The proposed amendment seeks to “reallocate square footage from academic, administrative and residential uses to athletic use within existing square footage caps.” The university is requesting this change to improve its athletic facilities, which are outdated and not adequate for the school’s athletes, says Mason Stockstill LMU’s Assistant Director of Communications and Media Relations. According to Stockstill, when the Master Plan was approved, the university intended to eventually tear down its sports facility, Gersten Pavilion, and build a new arena. Instead, they’d now like to renovate Gersten for use as a practice facility (with bleachers removed) for its sports teams and build a new competition venue in the Hannon Parking lot, which could seat up to 6,000 attendees. Stockstill says that while no blueprints or timelines for the venue have been made, requirements in the Master Plan say the entrance must face the campus and that amplified sound is limited to the interior of the building.

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In your hometown with…the Wilsons

Public service is what Sylvia Wilson was born to do. She just didn’t know how or what that would mean for her personally, but she knew that was what she was aiming for since she got her first taste at age 8 as a precinct captain for her local Congressmember in her hometown of Modesto. 

“Growing up, my parents were very politically active and always having events at our home to raise money for different activities within our community. Plus, my mom was an educator and a guidance counselor who spent hours outside of work helping her students, so I got to see firsthand how rewarding it is to be of service,” said Sylvia. “Dad also helped in his job as superintendent of juvenile hall for 25 years.” 

These days, with the full support of husband, Allen, and their three kids, Sylvia is doing what she was meant to do: supporting moms and families in Westchester and Los Angeles County. Recently elected to the Neighborhood Council, Sylvia is thrilled to represent North Kentwood. 

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Spotlight on Schools!

Welcome to our seventh annual Spotlight on Schools edition! 

The HomeTown News is proud to support local education, and every year we invite our Westchester/Playa schools to share with us what’s going on at their campuses.

 Check out our October edition for articles submitted by parents, teachers, principals and community members who are passionate about letting the community know what makes their schools special. Every year we learn that all our schools are full of success stories–new STEM curriculum is being added, eco-friendly initiatives are being introduced and social-emotional skills are being taught–so we hope the information provided helps give our readers a sneak peak on what’s going right on local campuses and a new prospective on local education. We often are asked, “Is that a good school?” and our answer is always, “Yes,” because every school has something magical to offer its students.

Visit our October online edition HERE at issuu.com.

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If you’ve noticed Playa del Rey sparkling, you can thank a PDR trash fairy

The next time you see volunteers with fairy wings, trash grabbers, and maybe even tutus, along the streets of Playa del Rey, make sure you tell them “thank you” because you’ve just spotted a PDR Trash Fairy.

Led by Playa del Rey resident Sara Kay, the group was started earlier this summer after she became tired of seeing her neighborhood trashed. Instead of getting angry about the litter she’d encounter on walks through her beloved beachside community, she decided to come up with a positive solution.

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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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