Sunday, February 21, 2010

Pasadena Marathon - an excuse for neighbors to connect

Being parents to a little one with preschool, music classes, sports class, etc. we are not great at reading the newspaper on the weekend. We stay in touch with the world during the week scanning the NY Times, LA Times, CNN and for my wife, TMZ, daily during the week for news, but on weekends - forget it. Yes, we are ignorant folk. So, it was with surprise that we noticed cones and a port-a-potty on our street (thanks God, across the WIDE street) for the Pasadena marathon, which for the first time, had changed course and was coming down our street on Sunday.

At 7 a.m., just as my son was eating breakfast, we saw the first bicyclist come through. (See photo of the first bicyclist) It was so entertaining screaming and cheering them on. They needed and wanted it. We saw moms riding while pulling their babies in carts, we saw women with little dogs in baskets and, of course, serious riders that flew by at tremendous speeds. It was so exciting as many of our neighbors stood outside cheering them on. About two hours later, the runners came through as well (see photo). Again, I was so impressed with the diversity of the group, young kids, senior citizens, families, even those with political agendas like the photo above of the man wearing a dress to promote the legalization of gay marriage.
For the neighborhood, it was such a street party. We got to catch up with all our neighbors, a few of which we had not seen for a while - even though we wave daily as they drive by in their cars on the way to work. I made oatmeal cookies to share, one neighbor made chili, the kids handed out jolly ranchers to the runners for a mile 19 sugar burst, and the young ones played in the front yard watching the spectacle and happy all their families and friends were near was such a special experience. Yes, a modern day Mayberry!

Monday, February 15, 2010

Harlem Globetrotters, Drew Carey, Tommy Lasorda and more

The Harlem Globetrotters offered me and my family free tickets to see the show here in Los Angeles. Being a fan since childhood, I was thrilled. (I had actually entered every HGT giveaway I could find online before we got the tickets becuase I wanted to go so bad!)
The show was everything I had remembered enjoying as a kid and more. And I was not alone. The audience was full of exited parents who you could tell felt like kids all over again. They were there with their little ones who were seeing the amazing basketball tricks, water bucket gags, flips and tricks that are synonymous with this amazing basketball team, for the first time. As if the tricks and stunts weren't enough, the place was full of celebrities. We sat just two rows behind VH1's "Best Week Ever" comedian, Paul Scheer, and not far from professional basketball player Doug Christie. Christie had a ball, cheering on the HGT players and applauding and putting one hand up at each dunk. (I wondered what the HGT players must have thought of having this pro baller cheer them on - so great.) The show began by honoring Los Angeles Dodgers manager, Tommy Lasorda. (See his white hair, light blue sweater between the players??) Comedian Drew Carey tossed the coin with his son to begin the game. With their opponents, the Washington Generals down, the challenging team brought in some Hollywood star power of their own - Flea, the Red Hot Chili Peppers' bassist. Dressed in the opponent's green uniform, he ran up and down the court, playing with the big guys (and dealing with all the "your small as a flea" jokes) until drawing a foul. Lined up for his free-throw shots, Flea Took five attempts, but unfortunately, did not make a single basket. The crowd was cheering him on the entire time and applauded his effort and you could tell he was living a dream come true.
Back to the game, the entire show was about 3 hours in length, with 4 quarters of playtime interuppted by Globey - the HGT mascott who dances like Beyonce, knocks down giant Campbell's Soup cans (a sponsor) with his body and helps keep the audience entertained. By the end, our son was very tired, but we all agreed it was a wonderful break for the entire family. My wife loved the celebrity spotting and the funny tricks, my son loved it all, I loved watching the amazing dunks and my brother who loves basketball loved watching the professional players playing the sport he loved, but with the dunks and tricks that are not allowed in the NBA. We were thrilled to share this experience with our little one and plan to return again and again. Thank you, Harlem Globetrotters, for reminding us what fun is all about.
Disclaimer: In compliance with the FTC, The Harlem Globetrotters provided me with free product, information and tickets through Coyne Public Relations. All opinions are my own.

Spin Art - Party Trend

We've been to a couple birthday parties for the toddler set lately and the cool party item is the paint spinner. You put a piece of paper in the spinning machine, drop little drops of paint and spin away. When the spinner stops you have unique pieces of art. They rent machines for about $40, but we bought inexpensive, paper spin-it-yourself versions at Michaels Crafts Stores for just a few dollars. Either way, it's loads of fun.