Pasadena Party Season!


Merry Post-Christmas & Happy Pre-New Years, my friends!

Parties…it’s beginning to look A LOT like Christmas!  An increase in partying, and shopping, Christmas tree lightings, etc, are common signs we’re getting closer to Christmas: the day we should actually be celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ.  And after Christmas we still have the biggest party night to look forward to: New Years Eve!

I’m no party animal but you can bet I’m gonna attend a few parties!  Just a few.  Three so far for Christmas with the last coming up tonite to welcome 2015.

The great majority of these party invites result from some affiliation with the party host, usually your employer or some association – you’re kinda expected to party with them! I’ll write about my 2015 party season in 2016.

What follows are just a few photos from one of my favorite Christmas parties, last years (hey, I’ll tell you about 2015 in 2016!) Pasadena Tournament of Roses (PTOR) member appreciation Christmas party.

You heard me correctly. Like everyone else in December, the PTOR holds it’s own Christmas party.  It kinda plays Santa Claus in appreciation of the hard work and sacrifice of its 935 members (white-suiters) and families.  It happens just days before Christmas and New Years. I consider it the last day off besides Christmas that the members will have before the Rose Parade.  Crunch time is definitely this period.


WELCOME to OUR HOME! The 2014 Chairman/President & the 1st Lady of the PTOR are the official hosts/greeters of their special guests at the front door of “their” home – The Wrigley House aka Tournament House.  I’ve met them on several occasions and I can say how fortunate Pasadena and the PTOR were to have them representing us for this 2014 year. It was the 125th anniversary of the parade, 100th Rose Bowl game, and (as I constantly had remind my friends) the 100th anniversary of the Wrigley House/Tournament House HQ of the PTOR since the late 1950s.




FOOD. A mark of a good party, and a requirement in my party book, is Food! Here we are in the Dining room, or as we could’ve called it that evening – the Bakery Café!  Along with me, one of the only two married  Rose Queens looks on approvingly.





MORE FOOD. The Rose Room, largest room in the house, was turned into something more akin to a Vegas buffet.  And outside in the park, more food met the guests, including a special guest from the North Pole! (upper right) The Wrigley House aka Tournament House was filled with people inside and out.




A major draw to get me to attend any event is the availability of Food & Drink.  But with this PTOR party I’ve always left hungry.  My fault. It’s just that I’m capturing memories (photography), chatting with the people I know, and greeting those who I don’t, while munching here & there in between.  Well, at the end of the evening, the people have left, the food is mostly gone, and I’m left…still hungry!  Like I said. I’m to blame.

What’s a major factor to get you to attend an event?


HONOR & ADMIRATION. Back inside the Wrigley House, I caught a couple of the Queen & Royal Court committee members admiring their selection of the beautiful Ana Acosta as Queen of the 2014, and 125th, Tournament of Roses.




The PT0R performs its operations through many committees.  “White-suiters” typically spend a couple of years on a committee and move on to another, and then another, and so on. A lucky, hard-working few get to be the Chairperson & President of the PTOR for a year. Major benefits to counter the supreme responsibilities of such a position is they get to wear the  symbolic “red jacket” of Presidential authority/responsibility, and chose the theme & Grand Marshall of the parade.

You recall Dodger Hall of Fame announcer Vin Scully was 2014 Grand Marshall! I remember congratulating the PTOR President on his GM by saying, “Congratulations on getting Vin Scully as Grand Marshall. Finally!. Darn it!, we finally found a President who could make it happen!!!” We both smiled & laughed. 


HOLIDAY SPIRIT!  Along with food aplenty, what’s a party in December without a Christmas Tree.  And Christmas carolers!   Trust me when I say they could’ve put even a Scrooge into the spirit of the season.




THANKS, HOSTS!  We should always thank the host of a party – the PTOR, in this case.  So, I think I’d give thanks 1st to the Queen & her Royal Court as represented below by Queen Ana & one of her princesses’, Elyssia. (A story detour on the photo below: Whenever I take photos of people I usually ask what kind of background do they want. Usually the subject will leave it up to me, of all people! So we started in the park, but too many around. Then, I thought of going inside. My mind was drawing blanks. Finally, I told the girls, we should just walk around for a minute until we see some “good background”.  When we got to the front of the house and saw the front entry, it became clear to all of us! So, this photo is to the side of the front door. A good position for a host and away from the “crowds.”)



Last but not least!, we also gotta thank, of course, the Chairman/President and his wonderful wife the First Lady of the 2014 PTOR.  R. Scott & wife Cindy Jenkins.          IMG_5160


As I mentioned in the beginning, the 2014 PTOR was a milestone year. The Chairman/President, the First Lady, and their Royal Court, were up to the challenge. That’s also one reason why they are my favorites of all Rose Parades I’ve witnessed.


The PTOR is always need of some new members, and a Royal Court, each year. Hopefully this will give you – YOU – a bit of motivation to consider getting involved with the PTOR by applying to be a member, or perhaps you meet the criteria for applying for Royal Court?  It’s work, but there are some benefits as you can see from this article. And one thing I can say if you’re associated with the PTOR: you’re good, giving, caring people!

Now, what about your parties, my readers: How many parties you attended? What makes a great party? Have you been a host?  Or, do you think you’re good “White-Suiter” material?



Taking Off the Rest of the Year! Stay Thirsty My Friends.

Red rose


The 2014 Rose Queen is…

…not as easy for me to guess as 2013 Rose Queen of The Pasadena Tournament of Roses (PTOR).

The next time I write on this website we will all know who was selected as the 96th Queen of the 125th Tournament of Roses. Last year, as soon as I saw the Royal Court I said to myself, “she should be the one!”  “She” was Vanessa Natalie Manjarrez of Mayfield Senior School. 

The PTOR evidently agreed with me.  At the announcement of the 2014 Royal Court earlier this month, I mentioned to the 2013 Queen Mother how I just knew her daughter so stood out that she had to be the Queen.  Mom was touched to the point that, had I continued, I probably would have brought her to tears.



This year which lucky Princess will rise to be Queen is truly a guessing game, since no girl stands out even with my sharp canine eyes..  However, I sense this group is one of the more enthusiastic or energetic in recent years.  Nevertheless, I’m gonna try to pick out the Queen in this article, if only for the fun of it and to see if I have any magical powers of royal selection leftover from last year!

Second things, second:  I am acquainted with the parents of one Princess and I know at least two Princesses are a readers of this blog.  Beyond that, my knowledge of this Royal Court is limited solely to what I’ve read, such as the PTOR press release, and what I’ve personally seen of them, which is just above the level of zero.


Lettuce start. I’m simply going make a couple of observations on each candidate which I believe may or may not be in her favor to be chosen Queen. Again, this is strictly guessing made on very limited information.


IMG_4581a The 2014 Royal Court (left to right): Jamie, Sarah, Ana, Katherine, Elyssia, Elizabeth, and Kayla


Jamie: She has been captain of her varsity school cheer team, V.P. of the Support Our Troops Club, and President of her school’s National Honor Society.  She loves France & French food.  She’s shown leadership qualities and shown willing to take responsibility. She seems very friendly, adorable, and a cute smile. I think we all would love to have a daughter like her in our families!  Yet, she appears to be the youngest as well.

Sarah: She teaches pre-school, plays musical instruments, and performs as a dancer, ballerina, and in theater.  She’s a college student – the only non-high schooler among this group. And the oldest at 19!   From this she’s shown leadership and responsibility, and an openness to be out in front of an audience.  I sense also a caring attitude and touch of elegance in her. Maybe this is partly why she seems to have a lot of friends and support. And, like me, loves to eat  Her age would also suggest she may be the most mature.

Ana: She may be, arguably, the Miss Photogenic of this bunch of cuties. Captain of her varsity equestrian team, cabinet member of the Girls Service League, on her school’s Ambassadors Council, and participates in the National Charity League. A Girl Scout who is working toward a Gold Award.  Here again, I see responsibility, leadership, and maturity. Still, in my experience rarely does a Miss Photogenic get the top crown in anything. 

Katherine: The tallest and, seems to me, The Most Likeable! Member of her school’s Pep team, and volunteers with Brother’ Helpers to help the poor in downtown Los Angeles. She seems funny, outgoing, yet modest and humble. She was one of two Princesses which seemed the most surprised and overjoyed to be named to the court!  I see a team player, caring & conscientious attitude.

Elyssia: She’s captain of her school’s debate & speech team, head anchor of its news team, treasurer of its Acts Club. She’s a volunteer with the American Cancer Society and the Let’s Hope organization.  Another girl who shows responsibility and leadership traits.  Yet, she appears to be the most reserved. Her smile is not as “big & toothy” as the others – indeed, until I looked at my own photos, I had not found a picture of her with a smile showing her teeth!  She has communication training yet I get the feeling she would prefer to work in the background.

Elizabeth: The yearbook editor, co-captain of her varsity song team, treasurer of the Pep team, a school tutor & teacher’s assistant. She volunteers at Elizabeth House!  Loves to lead & motivate her fellow students. I witnessed a funny, expressive, modest, & outgoing sides, and loves when others do well.  She was one of two Princesses which appeared the most surprised and happy to be named to the court!

Kayla: She was the first person named to the Royal Court. On her tennis team and also plays piano, with an eye for photography. Was an intern with the LA City Attorney’s office. Participated in California Youth Think Tank which helps youth to become future leaders.  She’s shown to be both a team player and someone who can “go it alone” in the sports she played.  She carries a quiet strength and maturity.


So, that was a very quick recap of some of their interests/achievements and the insights I’ve gathered from my very limited exposure to them.  So, what’s the verdict (or my wild guess!)? The Envelope please…

First, lemme say who I would “like” to be Queen: the girl who literally stands above all the others, the tallest, Katherine!  But I doubt she’ll be selected.

So, who I think should be chosen as the 96th Rose Queen? As I said, this is much more difficult than choosing Vanessa last year, so I can only narrow it down to two:  SARAH ELIZABETH HANSEN and ELIZABITH KATIE WOOLF!

Why? Just a hunch, really. Sarah, as the oldest, I can feel her maturity, beautiful heart, and I see a lot of support from family and friends..  Elizabeth, I feel her leadership, plus a motherly instinct to care for and want the best for others – like Princesses

After the naming of the Royal Court, I recall asking the new chair of the Queen & Court Committee, Alex Young, what would they next be looking for from these girls which would separate one to be Rose Queen. He told me, but of course, my good memory failed me again.  So, you’ll have to do with what I noticed and your own instincts.

Soon we will all know. I hope the reigning 2013 Rose Queen, beautiful Vanessa, is able to make the coronation, since she’s attending college on the east coast, to personally hand over “the baton”.

Well, that’s my guess. Who did you think would be Queen? I’m interested to know yours and why. Clik the link below to leave a comment with your guess. There must be at least one reader who got it right.


Gotta Run!! Stay Thirsty My Friends

Rose wet

Open House: Urth Caffe Pasadena

Restaurants open & close – always. In this industry especially it’s been nearly as reliable as a politician breaking a campaign promise.  So do businesses in general to a lesser degree – like Zinke’s shoe repair shop & The White Hut in Pasadena.

So when I happened to meet the district manager (DM) of the Southern Cal Urth Caffe’s, during a stroll in the Playhouse District, she told me about the upcoming “grand opening” of their newest right here in Pasadena.  My reaction was, “Oh, Ok.”

You see, I’ve been hearing about & seeing the coming of the Pasadena Urth Caffe (UC) for about three years now. Losing Zinke’s shoe shop & The White Hut, which had some history in Pasadena, from that corner was probably the clearest sign something new, and hopefully better, was coming.  Nevertheless, the bulldozing of those old businesses revealed some other Pasadena history, as I wrote here: All About The Watchmaker.


Urth Caffe has been around for about 20 yrs with locations from Downtown LA westward to Santa Monica. However, their 1st caffe began on Melrose in West Hollywood. That was also the place I had my 1st and only experience with UC back in the 90’s.  UC was a popular cafe when it first opened, even for WeHo, and celebrities were often seen there. 


This “grand opening” on August 18th was actually an Open House. Nothing was actually being bought or sold, no regular hours nor full menu. This would be the day for a FREE sampling of their food & drinks as UC’s offer to be known & accepted by its potential customers in the vicinity. It would also be my return visit to UC since that time in West Hollywood back in the 20th Century.  IF UC were closer I wouldn’t have waited until this century to return.


Perhaps you were one of those who made it to their open house.  The event ran from 12-7pm. Around 10:30am I passed by and already a few dozen people were lining up outside, starving to get inside for the FREE food/drinks. I figured these were some of Pasadena’s young & homeless dressed in their Sunday best.


After the Open House I told the DM that I would write about this new UC but I wasn’t sure if it would be this Open House or the Grand Opening planned for September. Her response: “Both!”   Sure.  She understandably didn’t how productive & lazy this blogger is.  For now, lemme just continue with this write up on the open house.


Lemme talk less & put up some pics from that FREE day.

UC asked the city to close down their street on Madison Avenue. I assume bicycles were given equal treatment with motor vehicles.





I alerted some of my Pasadena foodie friends of this FREE event. When I first arrived on the scene I saw a brunch of people standing & sitting.  I went to talk with a police officer to make sure she was aware of the FREE food & drink when I was approached by the head honcho of the Downtown Pasadena Neighborhood Residents Association and bike hugger. Well, at least one person listened to me!



I saw brunches of people, but where was the FREE food??  Luckily, I promptly recognized the DM and she directed me on the straight & narrow.  After barely thanking her I immediately recognized another friend who listens to me, Jian, by her USC jersey. She’s a special breed: loves to eat but also loves to cook. Hell, she’s just full of love!


Our 1st stop upon entering the caffe were drinks: lemonade, teas, and water.






Next stop was coffee. UC brought in some of their best barista’s from their other locations.  They went virtually non-stop putting out Latte’s, Spanish Latte’s, and regular reliable coffee.

Coffee Station. They brot in their best Barista's among their UC's.



Next station held sliders, sandwiches, and sweets.  From my recollection, among the sliders & sandwiches were grilled cheeze, Panini’s, turkey burgers, & chicken curry.  Sweets included cheezecake, flourless chocolate cake,  carrot cake, tiramisu, and coconut cake.







We filled up! – we only had 2 hands & small plates. But this was like Korean All You Can Eat BBQ or American All You Can Eat Souplantation (w/o the price tag), so we made happy returns!





Inside looking out. For those who simply wanted to street people watch…




Another person I recognized was a Pasadena Media cameraman (sitting on the right corner) who was there to document another local event.  We chatted about our last event.



For some reason the water station wasn’t quite as busy as the others.




Although the lines moved very quickly, the treats sometimes came to the people on that warm day.




I sampled a few of these.




The Photographers Photographer.  Suddenly among the customers one customer sets up a microphone and begins to sing. Not just any singer: an Opera singer,  who I overheard was Golda the daughter of the owners, Shallom & Jilla Berkman.  UC providing FREE entertainment as well!




UC was assisted by a catering company which has also catered big events such as celebrity award shows.  It was no surprise then when the open house closed for the day there were still boxes and trays of food.



Behind me were the last customers – 2 beautiful girls: “We never been to Urth Caffe.”  “We just moved to Pasadena.” Oh, and where did y’all come from? “Michigan” & “Tennessee.”  Oh. Can I ask what brought you both to Pasadena? “Work.”  I shared a piece of Pasadena history with these newest Pasadenan’s, although I miss the old-timers and their long history with our city.  Another couple of girls I happened to know were shut out. They sadly came a minute too late. I gave them some of my pumpkin pie to lift their spirits.


Anyway, it’s too bad this was the only day I could eat FREE Cafe food!  Thank God it wasn’t the only day: below is a sample of what was in my Doggy bag for my happy meal the next day! 






This Open House is in the books. Hope you got to attend, but if not, UC plans another FREEBIE day when their next UC opens. Hope it’s nearby!  Since that day, UC had a soft opening last Monday: limited hours with only pastries & drinks for now while they fully staff & train their kitchen to handle the full menu. Although I was given a date of September 2nd when they would be ready to fully open and truly have a “grand opening”, it’s best I hold off until I see it with my own eyes.  Restaurant openings have  a tendency to change.

So, Pasadena has another new restaurant.  Check out the Urth, at the southeast corner of Colorado Blvd & Madison, and lemme know what you think.  Whether it becomes a regular stop for you will depend on your personal taste buds & budget, of course. On this particular day I had no complaints!


Gotta Go: Gotta eAT! Stay Thirsty My Friends