Category Archives: Neighboring Communities

These posts are about what’s going on in our neighboring communities.

Halloween Surf

Venice surfers invited to Haunted Heats Halloween Surf Contest Saturday

For an entertaining way to combine the spirit of Halloween and the quintessential SoCal lifestyle, look no further than ZJ Boarding House’s annual Haunted Heats Halloween Surf Contest this Saturday, Oct. 25 at 8 am.

Far from the ordinary surf competition, the participants will be riding the waves of the Pacific Ocean all the while donning their Halloween costumes.

Set to take place near Tower 26 on Santa Monica Beach, the competition is in its seventh year running and attracts an impressive number of both surfers and spectators alike.

“This year, we’re expected to have about 60-70 contestants,” Teddy Vecchione, ZJ Boarding House’s Art and Marketing Director, said. “I’m guessing around 150 people will come to watch.”

The 2013 contest winner, the “ultimate warrior,” earned his crown by thinking outside of the box – or rather inside of it – by incorporating a “wrestling rink” onto his surfboard. Photos Courtesy Steve Christensen
The 2013 contest winner, the “ultimate warrior,” earned his crown by thinking outside of the box – or rather inside of it – by incorporating a “wrestling rink” onto his surfboard. Photos Courtesy Steve Christensen

The competition is welcome to all ages and all skill levels and is complete with a judging panel. However, the focus of the event is not necessarily on the technicalities of the sport. Rather than a serious surf competition, the emphasis lies in the creative abilities of the contestants.

“We’re more focused on the fun,” Vecchione said. “If someone in a ballerina costume is on a surfboard and strikes a ballet pose, that’s sure to get more points [than the average competitor] because they’re taking the role of their costume. It’s necessary to have some skill, of course, but as long as you can catch a wave in your costume, we try to keep [the judging] pretty arbitrary and focus more on the creativity.”

Naturally, the local surfers have brought the best of their creative juices to the competition, with stand-out costumes speckling the waves each year.

“One time, some contestants dressed up as all four of the Teletubbies,” Vecchione recalled with a laugh. “They all surfed on one board together, too. It was pretty impressive.”

Last year’s surf contest winner, the “ultimate warrior,” earned his crown by thinking outside of the box – or rather inside of it – by incorporating a “wrestling rink” onto his surfboard.

“We’ve had Grim Reapers, Baywatch girls, and even a Chia Man, which is essentially a fully grown, human version of a Chia Pet,” Vecchione described.

The same caliber of clever and innovative costumes is likely to be present this year.

“It’s basically a big party,” Vecchione said. “We like to think of [this event] as the best Halloween surf contest west of the Mississippi.”

The surf contest also supports a worthy cause, featuring food and prizes. There will be a raffle for a Firewire 6’2’’ Timber Tek Dominator surfboard, with the proceeds benefiting Boarding for Breast Cancer (B4BC), a youth-focused breast cancer education and prevention foundation.

The non-profit organization seeks to promote early detection of the cancer as well as a healthy, active lifestyle, with the latter aspect aligning with the sports-based nature of ZJ’s Boarding House.

The competition is free to attend. Contest entry admission is $10 for competitors over the age of 18, free of charge for competitors under the age of 18, and $20 for last-minute signups on the beach.

ZJ’s Boarding House is owned by Mikke Pierson and Todd Roberts and is located at 2619 Main St.

For more information, call 310.392.5646 or visit

Police lights

Screwdriver wielding Venice resident arrested after causing havoc in Santa Monica

A 52-year-old screwdriver wielding Venice resident was arrested in Santa Monica on Saturday, Oct. 12 and charged with carrying a concealed weapon.

Officers of the Santa Monica Police Department were called out to the 400 block of Idaho Avenue at 7:30 pm on this day after a citizen had called in a report regarding a man who had rang the citizen’s doorbell and had then thrown rocks at the windows of the residence.

The officers arrived at the location and shortly afterwards detained a man who fit the description of the suspect.

The officers conducted a search of the man and discovered that he had a 10” long tool concealed in his shorts.

The officers asked this man why he had this long screwdriver concealed in his shorts and he responded with the claim that he needed it for protection. The officers questioned this man further and discovered that he had in fact been wandering the neighborhood looking for the home where he believed his girlfriend lived.

The officers arrested this Venice resident, identified as Tom Safron, and he was charged with carrying a concealed weapon. Bail was set at $20,000.

Boat fire

Community embraces couple who lost everything in boat fire

Two Marina del Rey residents, who lost everything that they own when the boat they live in was lost in a fire on the water, are finding that generosity in the community still exists.

A friend of the couple, who are only identified as Tina and James, said the pair jumped the gun and cancelled their insurance a week before the fire because they had sold the boat to a friend, but he had not yet taken possession, or title.

“They had hired a mechanic from Craigslist to work on their Atomic 4 engine before changing ownership. Somehow it burst into flames,” according to the crowdfunding campaign.

The crowdfunding campaign is also raising funds for the mechanic who has 20 years experience.

“The mechanic is a single dad raising his daughter alone,” the campaign said. “He now has third degree burns from his elbows down to his fingertips, and tons of medical bills. Tina and James are homeless with just the clothes on their back. Imagine being at work an hour away and getting that call, ‘um, we think your boat is on fire.’ Imagine rushing home to find a pile of ash, and an even bigger pile of bills.”

The community has come together to raise more than $4,000.

Learn more the fundraising efforts at

Orchestra Santa Monica

Four concert dates set for Orchestra Santa Monica 2014/15 season

Entering its third season, Orchestra Santa Monica (OSM) has announced its 2014/15 season of four orchestra concerts after it has been enthusiastically embraced by music lovers in Santa Monica and its surrounding communities.

OSM will be presenting a new concert experience for its audience. Beginning in January 2015, the orchestra will be performing in the acoustically superb and visually intimate surroundings of the Anne and Jerry Moss Theatre at Santa Monica’s New Roads School.

“I’m tremendously excited about our new season,” said Music Director and Conductor Allen Robert Gross. “Moving into the Moss Theatre at the New Roads School is a big step for us because it will give our audience an intimate concert experience that one rarely has with orchestra concerts. It’s a thrust stage, and our open audience seating allows people to choose where they will wish to have their preferred visual connection to the players and to the music-making.”

The opening concert of the season, on Oct. 26, 2014 will be held at Barnum Hall on the campus of Santa Monica High School. Entitled “Heroic Beethoven and More,” the orchestra will perform his Egmont Overture and the “Eroica” Symphony.

Grammy-winning pianist Gloria Cheng will perform the west coast premiere of Latvian composer Georgs Pelecis’ “Concertino Bianco”, which uses only the white notes on the piano.

OSM’s opening concert at the Moss Theatre on Jan. 18, 2015 will celebrate Mozart’s upcoming birthday, with his symphonies No. 21 and No. 40 and with OSM Principal Oboist Catherine Del Russo as soloist in his Oboe Concerto.

The “Border Crossings” concert on April 19, 2015 continues OSM’s mission of presenting music that represents the diversity of the cultures in our region. Music by the Chinese-born composer Chen Yi blends eastern and western musical idioms to open the concert, and the orchestra will present the west coast premiere of “Andean Elegy” by the Berkeley-born composer Gabriela Lena Frank.  “Beyond her music, Frank being of Lithuanian-Jewish and Peruvian-Chinese heritage, personally embodies the ‘border crossings’ idea behind the concert,” said Maestro Gross. Music by Piazzolla and Dvořák round out the program.

Cellist Cécilia Tsan joins the orchestra for its season finale on May 17, 2015 playing Tchaikovsky’s popular Rococo Variations, which takes its inspiration from the 18th-century melodic elegance that the composer loved. To highlight the graceful rococo musical inspiration for the Tchaikovsky, OSM will be joined by Santa Monica’s Elemental Strings youth orchestra, which will play a piece by the Chevalier de Saint-George, who was known in his time as “le Mozart nègre”.

“OSM is committed to collaborating with the community, and Elemental Strings is an important local musical organization that nurtures future musicians and listeners,” said OSM Board President Cindy Bandel.

Orchestra Santa Monica is also continuing its outreach to the community through its successful chamber ensemble concerts. The OSM Woodwind Quintet will once again be performing in Title I Santa Monica schools this year.

Orchestra Santa Monica has received two grants from the City of Santa Monica to support its programs this year as well as grants from the Leo Buscaglia Foundation and the Santa Monica Rotary Club Foundation.

Important support for the Orchestra also comes from Agensys, Inc., RAND, Pacific West Bank, and the first concert of the season is generously sponsored by John Bohn, one of Santa Monica’s most distinguished citizens.

Complete information about the season’s programs can be found at

1) Opening Fall Concert – “Heroic Beethoven and More”

Sunday, October 26, 2014 at 3:30 p.m.

Barnum Hall, Santa Monica High School Campus, 601 Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica

Allen Robert Gross, conductor
Gloria Cheng, piano
Beethoven: Overture to “Egmont”
Georgs Pelecis: Concertino Bianco for Piano and Orchestra
Beethoven: Symphony No. 3 “Eroica”

Adults $30, Seniors $25, College Students $15, K-12 Students $10

2) “Happy Birthday Amadeus”

Sunday, January 18, 2015 at 3:30 pm
Ann and Jerry Moss Theater, New Roads School Campus, 3131 Olympic Boulevard, Santa Monica.

Allen Robert Gross, conductor
Catherine Del Russo, oboe
Mozart: Symphony No. 21 in A Major
Mozart: Oboe Concerto in C Major
Mozart: Symphony No. 40 in G Minor

Adults $30, Seniors $25, College Students $15, K-12 Students $10

3) “Border Crossings”

Sunday, April 19, 2015 at 3:30 pm
Ann and Jerry Moss Theater, New Roads School Campus, 3131 Olympic Boulevard, Santa Monica.

Allen Robert Gross, conductor
Chen Yi: Duo Ye
Gabriela Lena Frank: Elegia Andina
Astor Piazzolla: Libertango
Dvořák: Czech Suite

Adults $30, Seniors $25, College Students $15, K-12 Students $10

4) Spring Concert Finale – “A Forward Look Back”

Sunday, May 17, 2015 at 3:30 pm
Ann and Jerry Moss Theater, New Roads School Campus, 3131 Olympic Boulevard, Santa Monica.

Allen Robert Gross, conductor
Cécilia Tsan, cello

Elemental Strings Chamber Orchestra
Boccherini: Overture in D major
Chevalier de Saint-George: Rondeau
Tchaikovsky: Variations on a Rococo Theme
Brahms: Serenade No. 1 in D Major, Op. 11

Adults $30, Seniors $25, College Students $15, K-12 Students $10