By Tyler BIDDLE
Montrose has finally turned 100. The celebration, Centennial Days, took place last Saturday and Sunday with a host of western themed attractions, shows and historical presentations all in acknowledgement of the original 1913 land purchase that started everything.
The 2200 and 2300 blocks of Honolulu Avenue were closed off to auto traffic to make room for carnival rides, stages, booths and more. Among the attractions were a giant slide parked outside of Grayson’s Tune Town, a rock climbing wall, and a bungee bouncer. The event drew entire families and some folks got into the spirit of the occasion by dressing in western attire and cowboy hats.
Part of the street was converted into an outdoor eating area with tables and chairs. A beer and wine section was also corralled off by the Crescenta Valley Armenian Center, complete with an old-fashioned saloon entrance and sign that read “leave weapons at the door.”
The weekend was peppered with different historical seminars and presentations. A lecture, titled “100 Years of Montrose,” was led by author and historian Robert Newcombe. Newcombe recently released his book, “Montrose” as part of the Images of America series of historical books. His lecture gave a history of how Montrose has changed over the century in terms of architecture, culture and business. He also held walking tours along Honolulu Avenue on both days.
He mentioned, for example, that Andersen’s Pet Shop on Honolulu Avenue used to be a hotel in the ’50s with an outdoor atrium but the second floor was destroyed by the 1971 Sylmar earthquake. Looking up at the ceiling in Andersen’s today, one can see the hollowed outline of where the atrium once stood.
“Montrose History: Gems of Glendale’s Special Collections” was presented by Mike Morgan in the Montrose Library. It gave an inside look at the Glendale Public Library’s Special Collections which has in-depth materials on historical architecture, artists, prominent families, artifacts and organizations in Glendale. The program ended with a special presentation of a plaque commemorating the 1913 land sale to Ron Auletti, the grandson of one of the founders of Montrose.
Occupying the two stages erected on Honolulu Avenue were different musical groups including The Country Legends with Kathy Leonardo and the local artist Eli Locke. A special tribute to the songs of Woodie Guthrie was given by Frankie Fuchs and his band as well.
Big loop champion Karen Quest also performed her cowgirl tricks act on both days. She uses a vaudevillian mixture of comedy, rope tricks and audience participation. Volunteers were lassoed and roped up, one of which was a local police officer.
“You won’t arrest me for assaulting an officer, will you?” she asked with a laugh. She finished off her act with an eight-person audience cowbell orchestra which she directed to play, “Home on the Range” after only a few minutes of instruction.
Bullwhip master Anthony De Longis also performed both days of the celebration with his wife Mary De Longis, both full of southern charm and interesting facts. Anthony is an actor, martial artist, choreographer, stuntman and weapons expert who over the years trained many actors in how to use the whip including Michelle Pfieffer and Harrison Ford. He explained that the signature cracking sound of the whip is produced by its tip traveling fast enough to break the sound barrier.
Anthony and his wife then performed a dual whip synchronized tango.
“This is how we met,” he said as they danced and cracked their whips about each other. Anthony even held up a copy of the CV Weekly to be whipped in half between his outstretched hands over 10 consecutive times.
The weekend ended with presentations by several legislative representatives including those from the offices of Supervisor Mike Antonovich and Congressman Adam Schiff. Glendale City councilmembers and members of the Glendale Unified School District board of education were present as was Pat Longo from the Montrose-Verdugo City Chamber of Commerce. Even Senator Carol Liu was on hand to offer congratulations.
Students at Revolution Dance Center with RDC owner Julie Kaye kicked up their heels in celebration as well.
A sweet ending to the day was the cutting of cakes that were prepared by Montrose Bakery and a special 100-year commemorative confection made by Baked on Oceanview. Baked also provided cream puffs and chocolate delicacies, all of which were distributed freely to the crowd.
Centennial Days was a weekend of historical western fun that brought family members young and old together for entertainment and history. Ken Grayson, president of the Montrose Shopping Park Assn., said, “the community enjoyed themselves on this special occasion. A special thanks goes out to the Prom Plus [Club] kids for their help during the event.”
The Centennial Days weekend launched a year of celebrating with more events planned that will commemorate the rich history of Montrose.
Photos by Austin CEO, Robin GOLDSWORTHY, Ed HAMILTON, and Charly SHELTON