Otterson chosen as La Jolla parade’s grand marshal


Anne Otterson, the grand marshal for the 52nd annual La Jolla Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival to be held Dec. 6, personifies this year’s parade theme of “Christmas Through the Eyes of a Child.”

“I’m really honored and feel I was chosen because of my focus and involvement with children,” said the small-town Minnesota native, a 40-year La Jolla resident. She has been a high-profile supporter of Responsibility, a nonprofit providing education and medical aid to Tijuana children living in garbage dumps.

Otterson said it’s empowering to help people help themselves through education.

“But you need people to take possession of what you do,” she said. “It needs to become their project, not yours.”

Otterson said it really sunk in just how favored she was being a La Jollan while visiting a poor Tijuana family to give them gifts once around the holidays.

“It was a cold, wet, windy day over at the (Tijuana) dump and there was one bed in a lean-to with a mother and five or six kids with running noses and coughs and they were so thrilled with their gifts,” she said. “It’s humbling.”

As grand marshal, Otterson, who became well known when she ran one of San Diego’s early cooking schools, will preside over the parade hosted each year by La Jolla Town Council. She will ride in an open-air car with her grandchildren and David Lynch, who founded Responsibility.

The organization, which started out with volunteers to build the first schoolhouse and medical center next to Tijuana municipal garbage dump, now operates a preschool/kindergarten, summer camp, computer school and other facilities which have served more than 3,500 destitute students.

In addition to Otterson, the parade will feature the Good Will-Young at Heart Marshals — a group of people who have lived in La Jolla more than 50 years, a Civic Marshal and a Military Marshal (See their names in adjacent box) and a whole new category of dignitaries: youth marshals chosen by their schools.

“We’re building a new tradition, hoping it will stick,” said Ann Kerr Bache, 2009 La Jolla Christmas Parade chair.

Daniel Stein, La Jolla Country Day School’s choice, typifies qualities of the youth marshals selected.

“He stands out in just about every way you can imagine,” said Barbara

Weinstein, Country Day’s director of visual and performing arts, about Stein who, in addition to being a four-year member of the Country Day Madrigal Ensemble choir who plays violin with the honors orchestra, is vice president of the Student Body, webmaster for the LJCDS choral department and president of the Model United Nations. He lives in La Jolla Shores.

“The Madrigals is not just a group of singers, but a community of students who understand that united voices have power,” said Stein, who will perform with the school’s choir in the parade. “There’s nothing I love more than being able to create soaring harmonies and soulful melodies with my friends. It will be an honor to share this music with La Jolla.”

Debbie Dorsee, who is co-chairing the Town Council’s parade Fundraising Committee with Rob Hildt, said contributions are still being sought to cover event costs which run about $40,000. She added that people are stepping up with donations which will be accepted right up until parade time.

“We’ve gotten sizable contributions from Audrey Geisel and the Dr. Seuss Foundation, Supervisor Pam Slater-Price and La Valencia Hotel,” she said.

Those wishing to donate or to find out more information can call (858) 551-3271 or e-mail debbie@thedorsee

Meanwhile, several other parades countywide haven’t been as fortunate as La Jolla, including the neighboring Pacific Beach Holiday Parade scheduled for Dec. 13. It was canceled when the sponsor, Discover Pacific Beach, could raise only half of the $25,000 cost.

Grand Marshal

  • Anne Otterson — with David Lynch of Responsibility School

Youth Marshals

  • Dominick Wallace — Bird Rock Elementary School
  • Liam Arnade-Colwil — The Bishop’s School Middle School
  • Lucas Brahme — The Bishop’s School High School
  • Jenevieve Mota — Integral Elementary School
  • Daniel Stein — La Jolla County Day School
  • Victoria Frager — La Jolla High School
  • Melissa Pouk — La Jolla High School
  • Luke Gulley — Muirlands Middle School
  • Marina and Lara Abello — The San Diego French School
  • Emily Fuster — Stella Maris Academy
  • David Bache — La Jolla Town Council

Goodwill —Young-at-Heart Marshals

(All are 50+ year La Jolla residents)

  • John and Virginia Andrews (John, who golfed until last spring, will turn 100 in January)
  • Aurelia Brown (started the Y swimming Tiny Tots program)
  • William (Bill) Gibbs (Longtime aviator who started Gibbs Flying Service in 1937. He will be 100 in the spring.)

Civic Marshal

  • Deva Richards, representing the La Jolla chapter of Daughters of the American Revolution, which just celebrated its 60th anniversary.

Our Military Marshal

  • Military marshal representing Toys for Tots