2021 Year in Review: Top lifestyles stories in La Jolla
As we emerged from the harshest restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2021 made headlines in connection and creativity. Live in-person performances, games and exhibitions slowly returned, while other venues continued to produce online content.
Several La Jolla teenagers made their mark on the world through the creation of nonprofits and entrepreneurial endeavors, and many other residents made varied contributions to the community.
Here’s a look at many of the local arts events, celebrations, programs, projects and more from the past year.
Polar Bear Plunge: Undaunted by the 57-degree water, dozens of beach lovers dip into the ocean at La Jolla Shores for a pared-down Polar Bear Plunge on Jan. 1. The official event was canceled and there was no traditional group photo or potluck, but the usual “Auld Lang Syne” is played on trumpet as swimmers splash into the waves.
“Rosemont Trading Post”: Mysteriously appearing on the La Jolla Bike Path at Rosemont Street before Christmas 2020, a wooden kiosk labeled “Rosemont Trading Post” has neighbors wondering who erected it. A week later, resident Rozanne Edwards comes forward as the post’s originator, saying she wants neighbors to give and take items — such as candy canes, colorful feathers, books, sunglasses, stereo speakers and more — to encourage sharing and community.
Melodies for Remedies: A group of students at The Bishop’s School forms Melodies for Remedies at the onset of the pandemic to share the healing and connective power of music. The club brings virtual concerts to people in assisted-living facilities and hospitals, and its members hope to continue an in-person/hybrid format once restrictions ebb.
Chris Cott: The La Jolla resident volunteers to remove graffiti from neighborhood spots, working independently and to support local groups like Enhance La Jolla. He also helps lost dogs reunite with their owners.
January gardening: Experts say January is the best time to plant fruit trees and plants such as stone fruits, apples, blueberries and figs, as well as ornamental plants.
Pacific Paradiso: Two local teens looking to stay close while isolated during the pandemic and make some extra cash start an online shop of handmade goods called Pacific Paradiso. Rennie Anderson and Nora Bitar hope to expand the business and buy new sewing equipment.
Farmers Insurance Open: The annual professional golf tournament is held at Torrey Pines Golf Course without spectators due to pandemic safety regulations. The event is broadcast widely on television, but local businesses miss the tourism dollars usually generated.
Abandoned seal pups: Two harbor seal pups born early in the seal pupping season are deemed abandoned by their mothers at the Children’s Pool and in need of rescue by SeaWorld San Diego. One pup does not survive.
Village art: Murals of La Jolla installs its first mural of the year, “Newz!” at 7766 Fay Ave. in The Village. Artist Math Bass says the new mural, which contains an alligator mouth, a cone shape and a speech bubble, “doesn’t have a fixed meaning.” The piece is the 36th for Murals of La Jolla, which commissions artists to create works for local public spaces.
COVID documentary: La Jolla filmmaker Adam Francis Raby and Chula Vista film director Jose Valdez team up to document the stories of people who need treatment for COVID-19 in the Imperial Valley. The project seeks to spread information to people with limited access to medicine to help control the spread of the disease.
Senior couples: Couples at local senior-living facilities run the gamut from just-met to married for decades. Ahead of Valentine’s Day, the La Jolla Light interviews several retired couples for their stories of first dates, shared hobbies and love.
Environmental steward: La Jollan Gabriele Wienhausen, a retired biochemistry and physiology professor at UC San Diego, joins the board of the San Dieguito River Valley Conservancy. This adds to her efforts to protect the local ecosystem; she also is a docent at the Torrey Pines State Natural Reserve and a certified California naturalist through the University of California Natural Reserve System.
Health series: La Jolla-based marketing and production firm REV Studio, led by owner and President Lynne Arciero, creates a series of web-based videos called “Going2Health,” which offers expert advice and other resources on a variety of health topics.
Atmospheric rivers: Birch Aquarium at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography kicks off its virtual “Perspectives on Ocean Science” lecture series with meteorologist Alexander Gershunov discussing “The Art and Science of Atmospheric Rivers and the Changing Hydroclimate of the West.” The lecture focuses on atmospheric rivers and the impact they may have on California’s climate.
Prep sports warm up: Hours after Gov. Gavin Newsom announces that some high school and other youth sports could return to outdoor play under certain restrictions, Superior Court Judge Earl Maas rules that all sports could resume in San Diego County as long as they adhere to COVID-19 protocols similar to those followed by professional or collegiate sports countywide.
Torrey Law Review: La Jolla Country Day School juniors Terry Tran and Ricardo Cervera create a high school-level law review and publish the first volume. The Torrey Law Review is only the second effort of its kind in the United States and is designed to cultivate legal thought and demystify legal writing.
Designer showcase: La Jolla native Jonathan Cohen contributes his sustainable home designs to the La Jolla Designer Showcase Home, a new listing in Bird Rock that invites artists and designers to showcase their talents throughout the newly constructed house.
Science competition: Jeffrey Wang, a 16-year-old senior at The Bishop’s School, makes the finals in the 2021 Regeneron Science Talent Search for his research project on changes to genome compartmentalization. His paper detailing his findings is already in use by researchers in labs nationwide.
Shortened prep sports season: In a unique season in which football is played in the spring with no spectators allowed, the high school sports calendar also features cross country, field hockey, golf, soccer and swimming on truncated schedules.
Holding court: The La Jolla Country Day School varsity mock-trial team wins its first San Diego County High School Mock Trial Competition against 27 other teams. In addition to the championship, LJCDS students earn eight individual awards.
Coast Walk Trail: Friends of Coast Walk Trail launches a new round of fundraising and with community partnerships begins a series of repairs along the trail.
Fishing line recycling bins: Hoping to solve a problem at La Jolla’s Black’s Beach, a UC San Diego student organization looks to install bins for recycling fishing line at entrances to the beach. UCSD student Michael Tesis says discarded used fishing line can entangle wildlife, causing injury or death.
Enhancing La Jolla: The inaugural Enhance La Jolla Day, sponsored by Enhance La Jolla, freshens tree wells along Girard Avenue and Wall Street in The Village. About 50 volunteers pitch in to help, and several local groups staff tables to spread information to passersby.
Attractions reopen indoors: As San Diego County COVID-19 cases fall and numbers of vaccinated people rise, some La Jolla venues, including Birch Aquarium, Athenaeum Music & Arts Library and movie theaters, reopen indoor operations with limited capacity.
Donation of African Americana to UCSD: Steve Turner donates the first archive of African Americana to UC San Diego, a collection of photos, pamphlets, postcards, posters and other material that tell what Black life was like in the Old West from the mid-1800s to early 1900s.
Citizen science on the ocean: Native La Jollan Jake Russell designs RV Pilar, a research vessel, and starts a nonprofit to support sustainable fishing practices and efforts to remove plastic from the oceans.
Teen donates masks: Ezra Granet, a student at The Bishop’s School, creates a charity called Donate4Masks to collect donations to buy a bounty of surgical masks and get them to those who need them most: doctors, firefighters and other first responders. Ezra purchases and donates more than 20,000 masks.
Venues reluctant to go indoors: Despite the state relaxing COVID-19 restrictions on live performances, several La Jolla venues are hesitant to resume indoor operations, saying they will keep their schedules of livestreamed and outdoor performances.
Restaurants expand indoor capacity: Restaurants are allowed to operate at 50 percent capacity indoors, and many in La Jolla take the opportunity to do so.
La Jolla businesses post-pandemic: Many La Jolla businesses say they plan to hold onto pandemic adaptations such as hand sanitizer, expanded cleaning protocols and outdoor dining spaces.
“Remembering Butch”: To share stories connected to the La Jolla surf scene, Douglas Cavanaugh writes “Remembering Butch: The Butch Van Artsdalen Story,” a biography about the surf legend. Van Artsdalen lived in La Jolla during his teens and surfed at Windansea.
Earth Day cleanup: The Sierra Club Seal Society of San Diego holds a beach cleanup on Earth Day. More than a dozen volunteers remove 21.5 pounds of trash from La Jolla beaches.
Teachers of the Year: The five public schools in La Jolla select their Teachers of the Year. Andrea Carlson of Muirlands Middle School, Heather Chiaro of Torrey Pines Elementary, Tori Geyer of Bird Rock Elementary, Carole LeCren of La Jolla High and Stephani McCabe-Halloran of La Jolla Elementary are honored with a gift basket of prizes and are celebrated with other San Diego Unified School District Teachers of the Year at a virtual ceremony.
Skateboarding love: La Jollan Lucas Leaverton, 12, is turning his passion for tricks on his skateboard into entrepreneurship to help spread his message that skateboarding encourages community and creativity. The sixth-grader starts a magazine dedicated to local surf and skate culture, as well as a company preparing to sell stickers, shirts and other skateboard-related merchandise.
The Lot lights up: The Lot La Jolla reopens its movie theater and restaurant after being closed for months due to the pandemic. Seating capacity at The Village’s only movie theater is initially limited to 50 percent.
“My World, Our Planet”: The San Diego Museum of Art’s biennial “Young Art” exhibit, themed “My World, Our Planet,” features the art of several La Jolla students. The exhibit encourages students in kindergarten through 12th grade to submit artworks centered on the environment and sustainability.
“Marking Time: What Athenaeum Artists Create in Quarantine”: The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library opens an exhibit showcasing works created by 49 artists during the pandemic. The artists invited to participate have previously exhibited at or were commissioned by the Athenaeum.
Shakespeare’s fan: Delilah Delgado, a senior at The Bishop’s School who had fallen in love with William Shakespeare’s plays while attending outdoor performances at The Old Globe theater in San Diego’s Balboa Park, beat out high school performers from 40 other regions to win the 2021 English-Speaking Union National Shakespeare Competition.
Symphonic seniors: La Jollans Martin Nass, 94, Jack Clausen, 81, and Cathy Comstock, 87, and La Mesa resident Willis Frisch, 82, regularly assemble at Nass’ condominium to play chamber music. The quartet found one another through a mutual friend and the Associated Chamber Music Players, an international directory of professional and amateur musicians.
“Our Ocean’s Edge”: A new exhibit at the La Jolla Historical Society, its first in-person show in more than a year, is a collection of black-and-white photographs by Jasmine Swope that depict life in California’s Marine Protected Areas, paired with poetic narratives by author Dwight Holing.
Score on the court: La Jolla resident Sally Fuller, 91, places second in the Women’s 90 Singles division of the U.S. Tennis Association’s May Hard Court National Championships for women 50 and older and secures her spot as the country’s No. 2 female tennis player in her age group.
High-flying 90th birthday: La Jolla resident Wanda Parrent soars into her next decade high above the Pacific Ocean, celebrating her 90th birthday with her first paraglide from the Torrey Pines Gliderport as 30 family members and friends cheer her on.
La Jolla Playhouse reopens: The La Jolla Playhouse returns to live onsite programming, kicking off a nine-month season of events that includes three world premieres, a free weekend of Without Walls Festival shows, a new play series and a mix of online theatrical shows for adults and children.
Back to elementary school: Local high school seniors reunite with their former elementary school classmates in three separate events ahead of their graduation. Bird Rock, Torrey Pines and La Jolla Elementary schools see dozens of former students reminisce with fellow alumni and former teachers.
LeTip anniversary: LeTip of La Jolla celebrates its 40th year as the oldest chapter of a nationwide organization designed to help its members grow their businesses through referrals. The organization, with more than 50 members, holds a Zoom gathering to mark the occasion.
Local valedictorians: Ten graduates from La Jolla’s high schools are recognized for their high grade point averages. They attribute their success to passion, friendship and encouragement and offer advice to others aiming for the top.
Little Free Library: Marko Barron and Bo Fellows establish a Little Free Library on Virginia Way to encourage literacy, generate a new “life cycle” for books and pay homage to the White Rabbit bookstore that once stood on Girard Avenue.
Juneteenth in La Jolla: About 80 people gather in La Jolla Shores on June 19 in a hybrid celebration planned by Surfrider Foundation San Diego County and Paddle for Peace to commemorate both International Surf Day and Juneteenth. The event encourages participants to share their love for the ocean and spread the word about diversity and conservation.
“Charlie Enzo Needs a Home”: La Jolla resident Amy Baklund publishes her first book, a story for children called “Charlie Enzo Needs a Home: A Dog Rescue Story.” The book is about Charlie Enzo, a dog adopted by a family in Michigan but moved to a family with more time for him in California. His journey in a van across the country takes him to many stops.
La Jolla Then and Now: Architecture: For La Jolla, the 1920s were a time of emergence and expansion. The La Jolla Light’s look into local architecture from a century ago reveals that the Muirlands, Hermosa and La Jolla Shores neighborhoods took shape as developers bought large amounts of land, put in amenities and divided the land into lots to sell.
Twin win: Recent La Jolla High School graduates Cole and Croix Black win matching $200,000 scholarships to Yale University for fall 2021 from the Navy Reserve Officer Training Corps program. Cole plans to study history and political science, while Croix will explore math and philosophy.
“Permission to Come Aboard”: La Jolla resident Joe Frangiosa Jr., who operates La Jolla’s Nautical History Gallery & Museum on Pearl Street, opens an exhibition in Bonita to showcase his meticulously crafted model ships, booths laid out to look like the captain’s quarters of warships, plus photos and more. “Permission to Come Aboard: The History of Navy Ship Design” also includes artifacts, uniforms and toys detailing the history of the Navy, including the Marines, and naval aviation from the 1760s through the 1940s.
Homespun holiday: La Jolla neighborhoods host traditional Fourth of July parades, with larger ones in Bird Rock and the Barber Tract and a smaller one in La Jolla Woods. Residents dress in red, white and blue and operate floats or carry banners.
Milestone of meow: The Cat Lounge in La Jolla arranges the adoption of its 3,000th cat since November 2019. Guests pay an admission fee to play with cats at the shelter.
Art on Girard: A new mural called “Ebony on Draper and Girard” is painted on a wall at 7724 Girard Ave. by artist June Edmonds. The project of the Murals of La Jolla program is a three-story artwork honoring local Black pioneers.
Inspiring performers: Ashlyn Hunter and Sharisa You, both students at The Bishop’s School, start a nonprofit to share their passion for dance with those who have fewer opportunities to perform. Their organization, Inspiring Tomorrow’s Performers, provides online performing arts education to underserved students across the country.
Sneaks Summer Classic: The third annual basketball tournament, co-founded by former La Jolla High School classmates Sawsun Khodopanah and Tyson Youngs, convenes on the La Jolla Recreation Center’s courts. Some 120 players on 16 teams progress through elimination play.
Social media sleuths: The newly formed Social Media Justice League, which includes three La Jolla High School students, uses social media to conduct case research for lawyers or others involved with lawsuits to find witnesses, create timelines and collect data on the parties involved. The organization has representation in 12 schools across five states and Canada.
Beauty and the beach: Several titleholders in the 2021 Miss Earth USA pageant gather in La Jolla to conclude a three-day mission trip in San Diego. The day, organized by San Diego resident and Miss Earth USA Marisa Butler, includes a kayaking tour of the La Jolla coast, a Leave No Trace workshop on outdoor ethics and a talk about seals and sea lions delivered by a docent from the Sierra Club Seal Society of San Diego.
Lifeguard honored: Elizabeth Palmer is recognized by the San Diego Fire-Rescue Department for her 25 years of service as a seasonal lifeguard, mainly in La Jolla. Palmer is a lifeguard during her summers off from teaching high school economics.
Judith Munk: Amid new developments regarding historic designation for late oceanographer Walter Munk’s house in La Jolla Shores and the Munk Laboratory at UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography, Munk’s late second wife, Judith, is brought back into the spotlight as her daughters and others highlight her work as an architectural designer and artist.
Summerfest: The La Jolla Music Society returns to performing for in-person audiences with Summerfest. The opening concert is sold out; several more events are planned through August as part of the series.
New memorial: A new memorial site on the Scripps Coastal Meander Trail honors those who donated their bodies to the UC San Diego School of Medicine Body Donation Program. The site consists of two benches, rock formations and a plaque.
La Jolla Heroines: Erika Torri is highlighted in this new La Jolla Light series for her work at the helm of the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library, weaving culture into the community and expanding the Athenaeum’s footprint in La Jolla.
Veteran vendors: Local military veterans discuss their transitions to the civilian workforce and the challenges and highlights of operating their own businesses.
“Hear Us Fade”: La Jolla author David Hogan’s second novel explores various crises with comedy, set slightly in the future. Hogan is currently working on his third novel.
Mary Walshok: The recently retired dean of UC San Diego Extension speaks about how she built success as an academic entrepreneur as she moves on to her next project for the university.
Historical Society leader: The La Jolla Historical Society names Lauren Lockhart as its new executive director on the heels of Heath Fox’s retirement. Lockhart brings experience in art history and curation.
Evans executives: La Jollans and Evans Hotels executives Anne Evans and Grace Evans Cherashore extend their “work family” across the region and discuss building and maintaining a decades-old company.
“A Place Like This”: La Jollan Sally Buffington publishes her first book, containing her memoirs of her family’s summer home in Cape Cod, Mass. The book helps Buffington process her feelings about the cottage and her relationship with her late mother-in-law.
“Toast to the Coast”: Brockton Villa celebrates 30 years in La Jolla, awarding a local couple a gift basket for sharing their story of how the restaurant’s “Coast Toast” inspired their move to California.
Margret McBride: The longtime La Jollan and literary agent shares how she found success and her own voice in sharing others’ stories. McBride started her agency in 1980 and has served on the board of La Jolla Playhouse for 20 years.
“Trifecta”: The La Jolla Historical Society opens the exhibition “Trifecta: Art, Science, Patron.” The showcase, curated by Chi Essary, is the first to open under the direction of new Historical Society Executive Director Lauren Lockhart and includes 10 regional artists whose works were inspired by research conducted at La Jolla’s Salk Institute for Biological Studies.
Marjorie Hansen Shaevitz: The La Jolla resident, author and college admissions consultant encourages others in getting into the school of their dreams. Hansen Shaevitz initially worked at UC San Diego helping women return to school via group counseling.
Kiwanis pancake breakfast: The Kiwanis Club of La Jolla brings its annual pancake breakfast back to the La Jolla Recreation Center after a break in 2020. Nearly 500 people attend to eat breakfast and participate in raffles and auctions.
Stuart collector: Mary Livingstone Beebe has directed UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection since its inception 40 years ago, curating on-campus art to ensure that university students are exposed to it daily. She retires at the end of 2021.
Martha Dennis: The La Jollan has blazed a trail through San Diego as one of few women who pursued a career in technology and software in the 1970s and beyond since writing her Ph.D. thesis at Harvard University on computer graphics.
“The Garden”: Actor-playwright Charlayne Woodard returns to her favorite theatrical home at La Jolla Playhouse, co-starring in the world premiere of her latest play. The production is her sixth here since 1986.
Athenaeum Jazz: The 25th anniversary of the Athenaeum Jazz at Scripps Research concert series is a celebratory milestone for music fans and the Athenaeum Music & Arts Library. The concerts feature saxophonist Mark Turner and his quartet, flutist Jamie Baum and her octet, and an all-star quintet including trumpeter Gilbert Castellanos, pianist Gerald Clayton and guitarist Anthony Wilson.
Fooz Fighters: The Foo Fighters tribute band founded by La Jolla Brent Wright competes on the TV show “Clash of the Cover Bands.”
“Wishing trees”: La Jolla resident Molly Bowman-Styles hangs blank cards from the trees outside her home for people to write messages of hope and joy as a response to the pandemic. She has collected hundreds of wishes and expressions of gratitude.
“An Ocean Fantasy”: For the first time since the onset of the pandemic, the La Jolla/Riford Library hosts an art exhibit to showcase the works of the San Diego Underwater Photographic Society. It includes photos by Jack Der, Jami Feldman, Silvana Ghiu, Frankie Grant, Mike Poirier, Marla Matin, Dick Miller, Nanette Oselett, Greg Volger and Robert Yin.
Woman’s Club returns: La Jolla Woman’s Club members gather for their first luncheon since the pandemic took hold. The lunch includes a talk about the club’s history by author and historian Molly McClain.
Las Patronas luncheon: La Jolla based-women’s philanthropy group Las Patronas holds a luncheon to announce the proceeds from its most recent Jewel Ball and the theme for next year’s ball while welcoming eight new members.
Halloween: La Jolla offers many ways to celebrate Halloween, from a pumpkin patch and trick-or-treating to cocktail parties and a dog costume contest. Locals decorate houses and businesses.
“Landmarks”: The Athenaeum Music & Arts Library curates “Landmarks: 40 Years of the Stuart Collection,” an exhibition of models, drawings, letters, blueprints, photographs and video clips, as well as the Athenaeum’s extensive collection of books by and about the artists who have pieces in UC San Diego’s Stuart Collection of public art.
“When the Lights Go Out”: La Jolla resident Alma Lazar writes her debut novel, the Spanish version of which is named the Most Inspirational Nonfiction Book by the International Society of Latino Authors during the International Latino Book Awards.
Institute anniversary: The Institute of the Americas on the UC San Diego campus celebrates 40 years of promoting economic and social development across all the Americas and marks its anniversary with a look at its history and impact on regional growth as it focuses on future education and climate action.
Robert Smothers: To further highlight his military service marked by medals and other commendations, the retired Air Force officer receives a Korean War medal and proclamation as an official ambassador for peace. The longtime La Jolla resident moved last year to the Wesley Palms retirement community in Pacific Beach.
Yiddishland: Yiddishland California, the first building space for the Yiddish Arts and Academics Association of North America, opens in La Jolla to fill what YAAANA founder and President Jana Mazurkiewicz Meisarosh feels is a multigenerational need. Yiddishland will function as a cultural center, a classroom and an art gallery, adding a brick-and-mortar space to YAAANA’s online classes and events.
“to the yellow house”: Kimber Lee’s new play at the La Jolla Playhouse is set in Paris in 1886, two years before artist Vincent van Gogh abruptly moved to the south of France and began painting the vividly colored post-Impressionistic masterpieces for which he’s best known.
Roger Guy English: The La Jolla native has a penchant for tackling a challenge, no matter how crazy. His adventures inspire a documentary and a beer.
Ariela Leff: The La Jolla Country Day School student makes bracelets and donates half the proceeds to Pet Encounter Therapy, a program through the Helen Woodward Animal Center that trains dogs for visits to hospital patients.
Historical coastline walk: A La Jolla Historical Society walking tour led by historian Carol Olten features information about La Jolla’s coastline, including the natural topography, historical sites like the Children’s Pool and shade structures known as belvederes.
Chuck Rowe: The La Jolla resident has dedicated his life to helping children or the organizations that support them. He has been working in La Jolla for the past 50 years to help nonprofits get legal footing and/or serve as acting counsel for them.
Christmas Parade: The La Jolla Christmas Parade returns to its traditional format with more than 1,300 participants. The 65th annual event in The Village features vintage cars, dancers, Scouts and more.
New mural: Murals of La Jolla unveils its 37th installation, “Time,” a composition of images from photographs that artist Gabriella Sanchez took in La Jolla this summer. It invites viewers to reflect on the passage of time through nature and industry.
Historical hullabaloo: The La Jolla Historical Society presents its first children’s event, “Family Holiday Hullabaloo,” which attracts about 150 people. San Diego “kid folk” band Hullabaloo performs a mix of holiday and other tunes as parents and kids dance or clap along. Artist Xuchi Naungayan Eggleton leads guests of all ages in a craft inspired by her project in the Historical Society exhibit “Trifecta: Art, Science, Patron.”
— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff writer Elisabeth Frausto ◆
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