La Jolla News Nuggets: Picnic grove opens; Alzheimer’s study; LJVMA Volunteer of the Year; more

A new picnic grove in La Jolla's Scripps Park contains a memorial plaque for Selma Malk.
A new picnic grove in La Jolla’s Scripps Park contains a memorial plaque for Selma Malk, a longtime resident of the La Valencia Hotel (in the background).
(Joan Plaehn)

Picnic grove opens in Scripps Park

A project to create a picnic grove in Scripps Park was officially unveiled Dec. 16 when the fencing came down and the ribbon was cut on the new area.

The project has been shepherded by the La Jolla Parks & Beaches group, specifically trustee Alexandra Corsi, since March 2021. It involved relocating tables, improving access for people with disabilities, replacing a dying tree and layering the ground cover with a paving material called GraniteCrete.

Construction started in September, and the GraniteCrete was installed in November.

The site contains a plaque honoring Selma Malk, a late longtime resident of La Jolla’s La Valencia Hotel whose family provided early funding for the project.

Scripps Research explores why women are more at risk of Alzheimer’s disease

Scientists at Scripps Research in La Jolla and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say they have found a clue to the molecular cause of Alzheimer’s disease that also may explain why women are at greater risk of it.

Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia that occurs with aging, currently afflicts about 6 million people in the United States. It is always fatal, usually within a decade of onset, and there is no approved treatment that can halt the disease process, let alone reverse it. Women account for nearly two-thirds of cases.

In the study, reported Dec. 14 in Science Advances, the researchers said that a particularly harmful, chemically modified form of an inflammatory immune protein called complement C3 was present at much higher levels in the brains of women who had died with the disease, compared with men who had died with it. They also showed that estrogen — which drops in production during menopause — normally protects against the creation of this form of complement C3.

“Why women are more likely to get Alzheimer’s has long been a mystery, but I think our results represent an important piece of the puzzle that mechanistically explains the increased vulnerability of women as they age,” said study senior author Dr. Stuart Lipton, a professor at Scripps Research and a clinical neurologist in La Jolla.

He and his colleagues now hope to conduct further experiments to see if they can reduce pathology in animal models of Alzheimer’s and eventually in humans.

Bill Podway is named LJVMA’s first Volunteer of the Year

The La Jolla Village Merchants Association gave its first Volunteer of the Year award this month to newly elected trustee Bill Podway, who has been volunteering with the organization since last year.

LJVMA Executive Director Jodi Rudick estimated that Podway has donated 260 hours of service to the organization.

Podway, a retired retail executive and longtime La Jolla resident, said he started to get involved in local groups after his retirement in 2019. He also serves on the La Jolla Coastal Access and Parking Board, Planned District Ordinance Committee and others.

La Jolla Christian Fellowship brings snow to Recreation Center

La Jolla Christian Fellowship sponsored a “White Christmas” event Dec. 18 at the La Jolla Recreation Center.
La Jolla Christian Fellowship sponsored a “White Christmas” event Dec. 18 at the La Jolla Recreation Center, with 40 tons of snow.
(Andrea Gallegos)

La Jolla Christian Fellowship sponsored a “White Christmas” on Dec. 18 at the La Jolla Recreation Center.

The event included 40 tons of snow dumped on the Rec Center’s front lawn and church members reenacting a traditional nativity scene with live animals from a local petting zoo in celebration of the Christmas season.

About 1,000 people attended to play, sled and take photos in the snow.

La Jolla Christian Fellowship is at 627 Genter St. For more information, visit

La Jolla Garden Club holds annual Holiday Tea

Karen Weir and Karen Esajian co-chaired the La Jolla Garden Club's annual Holiday Tea on Dec. 13.
(Ina Thompson)

The La Jolla Garden Club held its annual Holiday Tea on Dec. 13 at the La Jolla Woman’s Club.

The event was co-chaired by Karen Weir and Karen Esajian, who chose a theme of angels and “Heavenly Holiday Tea.”

Donations of personal toiletries were collected for the Monarch School, which supports families experiencing homelessness.

La Jolla Community Center gets new sliding doors for front entrance

Cipriano Vargas, representing county Supervisor Terra Lawson Remer, and Community Center Executive Director Nancy Walters
Cipriano Vargas, strategic initiatives and community engagement manager for San Diego County Supervisor Terra Lawson-Remer, and La Jolla Community Center Executive Director Nancy Walters stand outside the center’s new front doors.
(La Jolla Community Center)

The La Jolla Community Center replaced its heavy bronze doors with automatic sliding doors at the front entrance Nov. 18.

The project was funded by a $15,000 grant from San Diego County’s Neighborhood Reinvestment Program.

Community Center Executive Director Nancy Walters said the new doors will offer better access to the center for senior citizens who use a walker or cane or have other mobility challenges.

The doors can be opened by a push button or motion sensors inside and outside.

San Diego Blood Bank issues urgent call for donations

The San Diego Blood Bank is issuing an urgent call for blood donations, saying the local supply is near dangerously low levels because of supply chain issues.

The holiday season is considered a tough time to collect blood as high schools and colleges are out for winter break and not hosting regular blood drives. Plus, people are traveling and otherwise busy with holiday plans, the bank said.

“We need healthy people to come in for a whole blood or platelet donation immediately in order to keep enough supply on hand for patients in our local hospitals,” said San Diego Blood Bank Chief Executive Doug Morton.

To be eligible, donors must be at least 17 years old, weigh at least 114 pounds and be in general good health. To schedule an appointment, visit or call (619) 400-8251.

Pioneering underwater photographer dies at La Jolla home

Chuck Nicklin, a pioneering underwater diver and photographer whose work appeared in national magazines, Hollywood movies and television documentaries, died at his La Jolla home Dec. 7 at age 95.

His credits included assignments for National Geographic and camera work for “The Abyss,” “The Deep” and two James Bond films, “For Your Eyes Only” and “Never Say Never Again.” He traveled around the world for magazine assignments and movie shoots. He dove in the waters off every continent, including Antarctica. He also had commercial jobs for a Mexican beer company, Olympic synchronized swimmers and others.

La Jolla Newcomers Club visits Birch Aquarium and plans library tours

The La Jolla Newcomers Club visits Birch Aquarium on Dec. 6.
The La Jolla Newcomers Club visits Birch Aquarium on Dec. 6. From left are Fran Phillips, Jody Turin, Pat and Paul Cohen, Alicia Kennedy, Bill Kelly, Jan Searleman, Joan and Kurt Vesper, Eleanor Shorter, Louise Pelan, Peggy Anderson, Joan Elicker-Richards and Richard Shorter.
(Alan Searleman)

Members of the La Jolla Newcomers Club met Dec. 6 for a visit to La Jolla’s Birch Aquarium.

The Newcomers Club also is planning tours of the San Diego Public Library at 10 and 11 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 2.

The club is open to new members who have moved to La Jolla’s 92037 ZIP code in the past three years. For more details or to sign up for a library tour, visit

— Compiled by La Jolla Light staff