On Sunday evening several bus loads of Torrance residents, along with their mayor, the city council, commissioners and other various dignitaries headed out to Irwindale and Fiesta Parade Floats to check out the progress of the float that the City of Torrance is sponsoring for the 126th Annual Tournament of Roses Parade.
The theme of this year’s Rose Parade is “Inspiring Stories” with the Grand Marshal being Torrance hometown hero, Louis Zamperini, who passed away earlier this year. The Torrance entry is called “A Race Well Run” and will feature black-and-white photos of Zamperini’s life, the Olympic torch and other imagery that reflects Zamperini’s life including a replica of the B-24 plane he was shot down in during World War II. Since the movie Unbroken was released on Christmas Day the City of Torrance hopes that this float, dedicated to the memory of Louis Zamperini, can once again bring international recognition to the city.
Sunday’s visit required a little imagination as all the floats essentially had most of their big items removed so flowers and seeds could be added prior to the reassembly which must be completed by Tuesday night. If you would like to see the progress that has been made over the last two weeks, you can see a few of my photos on CNN’s iReport. I will return one more time, on New Year’s Eve, so I can get some up close and personal shots of the finished product. Continue reading
The following photos were taken Thursday evening at the Louis Zamperini Celebration of Life which was held at Torrance High School’s Zamperini Stadium. I should probably preface this by saying that I am not really in the habit of going to memorial services for people I do not know but over the past couple of years Mr. Zamperini’s name seemed to pop up more and more in conversations so much so that I felt like I did know him slightly. As I was walking the dogs last night I recalled how our family moved to Torrance [almost] 50 years ago and that even then my dad would mention the Zamperini name; even if I did not really appreciate who this man was. By the end of last night’s event I felt that I knew Louis much better and I wished I had made more of an effort to learn about him while he was alive.
The remembrance to honor Louis Zamperini’s life was a very moving and educational event. From local juvenile delinquent to hometown and national hero, we learned a lot about Zamperini. We were able to hear from people like former Torrance Mayor Ken Miller whose family moved next door to the Zamperini family 80 years ago when Miller was a freshman at Torrance High and Zamperini was a senior. Zamperini’s daughter Cynthia, his son Luke and his grandson Clay all spoke of their lives with a living hero that was, by all accounts, a very humble man. We then got to hear from people like Kyle Gauthier that had only recently met Zamperini who had donated several thousand dollars to help send this young man to Victory Boys Camp, a camp he established in 1952 for wayward youth, where he taught other juvenile delinquents the skills to succeed in life. Speaker after speaker pretty much had the same things to say; this was a man that endured a lot, but was made a better man for it. Continue reading
On Tuesday evening, the Torrance City Council went through a major changing of the guard, with Pat Furey being sworn in as our new mayor; and Kurt Weideman, Heidi Ashcraft, Tim Goodrich and Geoff Rizzo being sworn in as new council members. Weideman had been appointed to the council a year ago when Councilwoman Susan Rhilinger resigned due to health; and Ashcraft was appointed in December when Cliff Numark was elected to the El Camino College Board of Trustees. They have a combined year and a half of experience compared to the 30 years of experience between the departing Mayor Frank Scotto, and Councilmen Bill Sutherland and Tom Brewer. It is going to be an interesting time for Torrance; no doubt.
The evening began with a ceremony marking the departure of City Clerk Sue Herbers who retired after 20 years of service. In her farewell address she mentioned that she will still be around and be as active as ever; even if it is as an audience member. She did mention that if the council decided to accept applications for the vacant seat that we now have since Furey became Mayor, she would apply. More on that later, but personally, she would be outstanding.
Herbers last official duty was the swearing in of Council members Weideman, Ashcraft, Goodrich and Rizzo; Pat Furey as Mayor and Rebecca Poirier as the new City Clerk. And with that we lost 50 years of experience in one swoop. Continue reading