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History, fun and flapjacks on tap July 25 at La Jolla Rec Center

La Jolla Parks and Recreation, Inc. vice-president Cindy Greatrex and president Douglas Fitzgerald display a new plaque commemorating the 100-year anniversary of La Jolla Recreation Center.
La Jolla Parks and Recreation, Inc. vice-president Cindy Greatrex and president Douglas Fitzgerald display a new plaque commemorating the 100-year anniversary of La Jolla Recreation Center.
(Pat Sherman)

La Jolla Rec Center July 25 Festivities

Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast

When: 7:30-11:30 a.m.

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Where: Rec Center, 615 Prospect St.

Cost: $10, free for children 10 and under

• Info: kiwanisclublajolla.org

Rec Center 100-Year Celebration

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When: Noon-4 p.m.

Cost: Free

La Jolla Rec Center to host Kiwanis Pancake Breakfast, plus Centennial Celebration July 25

La Jollans are invited to enjoy an entire day of food, 100 years of history and family-friendly fun at La Jolla Recreation Center Saturday, July 25 at 615 Prospect St.

The morning kicks off with Kiwanis Club of La Jolla’s Pancake Breakfast, 7:30-11:30 a.m.

The popular event, held each year since 1964, is staffed and produced by Kiwanis, and includes all-you-can-eat pancakes and sausages, coffee, beverages, live music and children’s activities, such as face painting and a petting zoo.

The cost is $10, or free for children ages 10 and younger. The event raises money for Kiwanis’ charitable activities, including its “Junior Olympics,” local scholarship awards and involvement in the Meals on Wheels program.

“We see ourselves as community builders,” club president Rebecca Morales said, noting the club’s involvement in activities such as La Jolla Concerts By the Sea and the annual Christmas Parade and Holiday Festival. “The pancake breakfast is the La Jolla Kiwanis’ way of giving back to the community. … These are things that get people together, interacting, having fun, that bring character to our community (in which) whole families can participate.”

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Kiwanis member Glen Rasmussen flips up some fluffy hotcakes during last year’s breakfast at La Jolla Rec Center.
Kiwanis member Glen Rasmussen flips up some fluffy hotcakes during last year’s breakfast at La Jolla Rec Center.
(Ashley Mackin)

Following the breakfast, La Jolla Parks & Recreation, Inc. (LJPR), the nonprofit board that advises the city on Rec Center programs and operations, and raises money for the center’s upkeep, will host a Centennial Celebration, commemorating the center’s 100-year history and honoring its founding donor, Ellen Browning Scripps.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include an array of activities for children and families, including: a petting zoo, bounce houses, pony rides, performances by children’s bands, balloon artists, face painters, a magician, juggler, popcorn, hot dogs, cutting of a Rec Center-shaped ceremonial cake, carnival games and actors in overcoats, petticoats and other period attire, strolling the grounds and providing information on the Rec Center’s founding era.

“They’re going to be acting as if it were 1915, talking about the times … what’s going on in the Scripps’ world and in La Jolla (at that time),” said LJPR first vice-president Cindy Greatrex.

The event program will begin promptly at noon with remarks from representatives of the La Jolla Historical Society, La Jolla Town Council and La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club. State Assembly speaker Toni Atkins (representing the 78th District, which includes La Jolla) will also present a proclamation from the State of California.

This children’s wading pool, donated by Ellen Browning Scripps, was added to the front lawn area of La Jolla Recreation Center (near Draper Avenue) after its founding in 1915. This image (circa 1931) and other historic photos will be on display during the centennial event, noon to 4 p.m. July 25.
This children’s wading pool, donated by Ellen Browning Scripps, was added to the front lawn area of La Jolla Recreation Center (near Draper Avenue) after its founding in 1915. This image (circa 1931) and other historic photos will be on display during the centennial event, noon to 4 p.m. July 25.
(Courtesy La Jolla Historical Society)

LJPR president Douglas Fitzgerald and the city’s Parks & Recreation director, Herman Parker, will present a commemorative bronze plaque to be mounted near the Rec Center’s main entrance off Prospect Street. Two large urns filled with flowers will be installed on pillars located on each side of the main entry stairs — just like those that graced the front of the building when it opened in 1915.

“This has been a big meeting and recreation place for generations of kids and adults,” said Fitzgerald, who joined the LJPR board after serving for years as president of La Jolla Tennis Club.

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“I first came here in 1969 and it hasn’t changed a bit,” added Fitzgerald, who plans to retire from the board in December. “It’s still just sitting here doing its thing … providing, as Ellen Browning Scripps wanted, a place for children to come and recreate — to expand their minds and improve their bodies.”

Greatrex noted that La Jolla Rec Center is among the oldest public recreation centers in the country.

“This is the oldest one in America that we could find that has a playground,” she said, noting that several so-called “community houses” — essentially rec centers without playgrounds — were established before La Jolla Recreation Center.

“Everything is low-cost or free,” Greatrex said of the Rec Center’s programs, such as its champion youth flag football team, which was formed last year. “It’s a wonderful board under Doug’s leadership and I’m really looking toward the future and seeing what we can do to grow the programs.”