Awards, food and live music will celebrate Montrose’s 101st birthday.
By Brandon HENSLEY
The Crescenta Valley has long been thought of as a place where the volunteer spirit shines, and Bob Thompson knows all about that.
A retired Montrose postmaster, Thompson now spends his time cleaning up several blocks every week along Honolulu Avenue as part of the City of Glendale’s Adopt-A-Block program. He’s also a part of the Trail Safety Patrol, where he’s trained to go to parks like Deukmejian and educate people about the environment and their safety in those places.
For his efforts, Thompson will be recognized on Sunday in the 2200 and 2300 blocks of Honolulu Avenue during the Founder’s Day celebration, which will recognize Montrose’s 101st anniversary from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Thompson was there for the 90th anniversary and for last year’s centennial celebration.
“Now we’re going to hit 101. Wow. We don’t look 101, do we?” said Thompson, who will receive the Montrose Community Service award, one of several Montrose-centered awards that will be given out during the day.
“I was happy to be recognized with what I’ve been doing around Montrose the last few years,” he said.
It will be a big day for others as well. Other honorees will include Pat Grant from Faye’s (Founder Award) in recognition of exceptional dedication and vision in shaping the character of the Montrose business district and the Montrose community as a whole; Mia Pedersen from Paradis Ice Cream and Maureen Palacios from Once Upon a Time bookstore (Business Achievement) in recognition of the outstanding qualities of imagination, customer service and unique merchandising which have uplifted the character of the Montrose Shopping Park; Mary O’Keefe, lead CV Weekly reporter who also heads up the Fire House, an after-school youth center, will be given the Humanitarian Award in recognition of the highest sense of idealism in the performance of charitable and civic works.
“[The Montrose Shopping Park] used to celebrate Founder’s Day with this type of celebration and awards ceremony every year,” said MSPA Events Coordinator and Marketplace Manager Linda McMenamin. “However, there hasn’t been a program since 2010 and we thought it would be fun to rekindle the tradition.
Local historian and author Robert Newcombe will be presented with Community Preservation Award in recognition of individual efforts within the Crescenta-Cañada Valley to educate the community about the virtues of the local history.
“There are several changes that have happened over the last 100 years, all of which help to make Montrose special,” said Newcombe. “The first is that Montrose was initially conceived as a community of mostly single family residences, surrounding a small potential business district. Over the years, though, the business district ended up dominating the area.” He added that the second major change occurred with the shopping park makeover in 1967.
“It was a daring move by the local merchants (paying for much of it out of their own pockets), but the landscaping, curb-outs, benches, street lights, combined with the 1920s era buildings, all help to make Montrose a relaxing place to shop, dine, and just stroll,” he said. “The third big change is less physical and more social: the events that are held here, from the weekly farmers market to the Arts and Crafts Festival, antique car show, Oktoberfest and the Christmas season decorating and activities seem to bring more and more people to Montrose every year. When [my wife and I] moved to this area in 2000, we could walk down Honolulu at 8 p.m. and not see anyone. But Montrose is always brimming with people (and dogs!).”
In addition to the awards, a cake prepared by Henry Baeza of Montrose Café will be presented and served to attendees at no cost.
There will be more than just cake available to eat, though. Several of the local restaurants will be offering special menu items. Tickets are $10 and available at the Montrose Shopping Park Assn. booth at the intersection of Honolulu Avenue and Ocean View Boulevard. Tables and chairs will be set up there; diners can buy as many meal tickets as they like, take a seat and look over menus with selections from Zekes, Cucina Rustica, Big Mama’s Pizza, Montrose Café & Bakery, Pepe’s Mexican Restaurant, Gio’s and Baked On Ocean View. Students from CVHS Prom Plus Club will take meal orders and go to the restaurants, place the order, pick it up and bring it to the diners.
The group Stinky Felix will play live music and students from Revolution Dance Center will perform. The Crescenta Valley Historical Society will have photographs on display detailing Montrose’s long history and, for the kids, there will be a petting zoo, climbing wall and a train.
McMenamin said Centennial Days last year was a huge undertaking especially because it was a two-day event.
“Founder’s Day is a more intimate event and is all about the local merchants of the MSP,” she said, “the local community and celebrating all the things that make Montrose such a fun and unique community that feels like everybody’s home town.”
For Palacios, owner of Once Upon A Time since 2003, it’s special for her because this is the second time the MSPA has honored her store with the same award. The first was in 2005.
Was she surprised about this one?
“I wouldn’t say surprised. We work very hard,” said Palacios, who works seven days a week, and the store has seen much growth in her time here. She said 2013 was the best business the store has ever done.
“Maybe validated is a better word,” she said. “All the hard work is paying off.”
Once Upon A Time, the nation’s oldest children’s bookstore, can now order books and receive them within two days, if not one day, which allows them to be competitive with online companies like Amazon.
“We’re very responsive to the community and to the community’s needs and we certainly have been ordering more, and are faster, in order fulfillment,” Palacios said. “I think that is one thing that we’ve done on a deliberate basis.”
Once Upon A Time is one of the small stores Thompson enjoys seeing around town. He doesn’t like seeing the plethora of restaurants that line the shopping park, although he acknowledged those eateries might encourage shoppers to stick around after a meal and check out the stores that are open for business.
“It’s growing some,” he said of Montrose, “but it’s keeping that small-town flavor. I like that.”
Newcombe agreed. “It’s remarkable that it has stayed so charming all these years, but most of the building owners seem to recognize this and have restored the buildings instead of replaced,” he said. “The historical society recently received a series of photos that were taken before the makeover, and it’s stunning to see the same buildings on a straight street, with virtually no landscaping; it’s simply not the same place.”