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Friday, February 28, 2014

Escape The Rain With Plenty Of Indoor Fun This Weekend!

It looks like we are going to have rain and thunder showers well into Sunday, so be safe out there. If you are searching for ideas for some indoor things to do, I have a few suggestions for the weekend. Looking for your evenings to involve good beer, great chili and lots of fun? Texas Loosey's and Barney's Beanery have got your number. Tonight, Texas Loosey's in Torrance has the 3B Blues Band and their creole-flavored musical gumbo. The bass player toured with James Brown so expect the night to get funky and soulful. Tomorrow at Barney's Beanery on the Redondo Beach Pier, March Madness begins on the famous eatery's 60 giant HD screens. You don't even have to like college basketball when there are hundreds of different craft beers and Barney's world famous chili to enjoy.

Beach Cities Friends of Habitat for Humanity is having a fundraiser called Trivia Night III tomorrow evening at the Vistamar School Performance Arts Space in El Segundo that looks like a fun time (and a great way to help this wonderful organization raise funds). Tables of 8 will compete for the Grand Trivia Trophy and there will be music and other games. Beer and pizza will be provided and you can bring in whatever appetizers, side dishes or desserts you might want to share. Beach Cities Friends has raised well over $800,000 to help build or renovate homes in the South Bay in partnership with Habitat for Humanity Greater Los Angeles so I hope this latest fundraiser is a huge success.

Sunday, as film lovers know, is the biggest night in movies with the Academy Awards and all of the before shows that start early in the afternoon. Because of the lack of clear front-runners, they are billing this year's ceremony as promising the most surprises in years. After the Super Bowl, the Oscars are the most watched television program so many of you were probably staying in, rain or no rain. But if it is nice enough out early Sunday afternoon, the Sandy Paws Stroll in Downtown Manhattan Beach happens from 1:00 - 2:30. The Pet Professional Guild, an organization comprised of dog training and pet care professionals committed to holistic, force-free training methods, is having their first-ever fun walk to celebrate the joyful bond and deep respect dog owners share with their furry friends. The trainers will be bringing 10 of their dogs to start the walk and everyone is invited to bring your own dogs to join in the mini-parade. There will be free training materials provided and plenty of advice on how to train your dog using gentle, positive means.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Spotlight On The South Bay Coalition For The Homeless

One of the things that is important those of us fortunate enough to live in our amazing South Bay community to do is to pay attention to the plight of the homeless in our area as much as possible. With two big storms over the next few days predicted to drop more rainfall than we have seen in two years, it is extra important to recognize how local organizations need your help in these situations where having food and shelter is most critical..

One of the groups dedicated towards helping those in need is the South Bay Coalition for the Homeless, whose stated mission is "safeguarding human dignity and compassion through advocacy, service and referrals". This is a comprehensive organization that catalogs and coordinates many of the services available to the homeless and provides detailed information on where to find meals and shelter. They also provide extensive resources on how to obtain healthcare such as :
  • Medical/Dental
  • HIV/STD Testing
  • Pregnancy/Birth Control
  • Counseling / Mental Health
  • Psychiatric
  • Older and/or Disabled Adult Care
The SBCH also works with the Beach Cities Health District to bring community resources together to respond to and prevent homelessness in the South Bay. Coalition members are active in raising awareness of the large number of homeless who live here by helping to raise funds, solicit donations and recruit volunteers in a community-based, grassroots effort. They also partner with the United Way and their Home For Good initiative, which will be presenting a webinar tomorrow on funding proposals for 2014. If you are interesting in attending the online meeting, it starts at 10:00 a.m. Here is the link to join.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Southern California Prepared For Drought, But Conservation Is Critical

I have read a few articles over the past week or so that should should lift the spirits (a little bit, at least) for those of us who are concerned what this historic drought in California means for the future of our local communities. One good piece of news is that we are supposed to have a "signification rain event" in a few days as a couple of big storms head our way towards the middle of the week. Another is that President Obama recently announced aid would be send to help with the crisis after Governor Jerry Brown declared a "drought state of emergency" last month.

What I thought was most heartening, however, was that water agencies across the local region have already prepared for the worst by investing billions of dollars over the last 20 years in water storage, so we are not in dire conditions in our area (according to the LA Times). That said, it is still of utmost importance for all of us to consistently be aware of the need to conserve water and to help raise the awareness of this need in others. In that vein, here are a few simple and effective ways to cut down on water usage every day:

  • Installing aerators on bathroom faucets can save 1.2 gallons of water a day, according to Save Our Water.
  • You can save up to 10 gallons a day by turning off the faucet while brushing your teeth.
  • Reducing your shower time in from 10 minutes to 5 minutes can also save 12.5 gallons of water a day.
  • Replacing your toilet and installing a high-efficiency toilet is a more permanent solution that can save 19 gallons of water a day.

It’s also important to be efficient when doing things such as the laundry and the dishes:
  • Residents are encouraged to wait until the laundry load is full, to maximize the usage of water.
  • Waiting until a dishwater load is full could save up to 15 gallons of water.
  • Use the next smallest water level setting than what you think, most people don't need to have it on "extra-large" for a medium load.

Homeowners can also save water by cutting back on outdoor water usage. Using your sprinklers for 3 to 5 minutes less time could save between 2 and 5 gallons. Update to water-saving nozzles for when you must use an outdoor hose for rinsing or washing. And, of course, drought resistant plants offer a unique way to landscape while saving up to 90% of the water used for a grass turf yard. See one of my blogs about that here.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

What A Year So Far For Mira Costa Athletics!

It has been just three months since the Mira Costa football team was eliminated in the quarterfinals of the Northern Division championship and a bunch of the players traded their football uniforms for rugby gear and had their first practice as the new Mustang rugby team. Last Saturday, with a 41-14 win over Dana Hills to capture the Southern California Youth Rugby Blue Division Championship in San Diego, the Mustangs finished their inaugural season with an 11-0 record. Congratulations on that outstanding achievement, Champs!

The Mustang wrestling team isn't doing too badly, either. They also had a great past weekend as Mira Costa wrestlers reached the finals in 13 of 14 weight divisions and will send all 14 wrestlers to the CIF Inland Division championships being held this weekend at Temecula Valley High School. While West Torrance definitely deserves credit for dominating the play by capturing eight individual league titles, the Mustangs have a chance to advance to the Masters Meet next Friday and Saturday at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. The top five qualifiers in each weight class from the divisional championships will make it to the Masters.

The year began on a good note when Jon Reichardt, the Mustang's head water polo coach, was named boys water polo Coach of the Year by the California Coaches' Association for leading Mira Costa to its fourth CIF boys water polo championship last Fall. The girls water polo team is having a stellar season and dominated the first round of the CIF Southern Section Division III playoffs this past Wednesday. I will be cheering the girls on as they shoot for their first CIF title

This has been an exceptional start to the year for the Mustang athletes and they all deserve the rewards of their hard work.  I can't wait to see how the rest of the year goes!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Another Eclectic Weekend In The South Bay!

The wide variety of activities offered in the South Bay on any given weekend never fails to amaze me. For example, this weekend there is a celebration of stand up paddle boarding coupled with public art, a Black History Month event featuring wines from around the world made by African-Americans and a huge quilt festival. Yep, a quilt festival.

On Saturday, Redondo Beach is taken over by stand-up paddleboarding and public art. The Lanakila Classic starts at the Seaside Lagoon at 8:30 a.m. with a mini-course paddle race for kids, followed by an SUP, kayak and outrigger short course at 10:00 a.m. and then a long course at noon. This will be followed by live music, food and fun. At 1:30 p.m., King Harbor Marina will hold a commemoration ceremony for the finalized Mosaic Wall along the bike path on Harbor Drive. What was once a brown, dingy eyesore is now solid white, stuccoed and decorated with six mosaic scenes, each one capturing an iconic activity in the beach cities.

The quilting festival I mentioned is at the Torrance Cultural Arts Center on Saturday and Sunday and is held by the South Bay Quilters Guild. Over 200 quilts and garments will be on display in the Quilt Gallery and there will be a large Merchant Mall with many new quilting supplies, vendors, and vendor gift drawings, as well as an auction and raffle on Sunday. It is kind of nice to know that in 2014, there are still quaint, old-fashioned events like this going on!

Sunday afternoon finds the "Black History Month Sip n Shop" going on at Barsha Wines in Manhattan Beach. This event includes wine tasting, charcuterie, cheese, crackers, and special vendor discounts as it celebrates the history of African-Americans in the world of winemaking. One of the things that makes this such a special event is that Bobby Watson, the world-renowned jazz guru who has played sax with everyone from Wynton and Branford Marsalis to Carlos Santana and Chaka Khan, is providing the live entertainment.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Hidden Art Treasure In Manhattan Beach

Polliwog Park in Manhattan Beach is easily one of the nicest open areas we have in the South Bay and the park has long been a favorite location for prom or homecoming or wedding parties to have their pictures taken, as well as for picnics and reunions all year long. I personally love taking my granddaughters to the great playground and to feed the ducks at the park's pond. The park is always extra packed in the summer, whether for the 9 hole disc golf, the dog run that opened in the summer of 2010 (and is the biggest in Manhattan Beach), Begg Pool, the botanical gardens or, most especially, the Sunday concerts in the park--when it seems like half of the city is in attendance. But how many people know that right across the street from all this activity one of the nicest collections of art in MB is exhibited at the City's Creative Arts Center?

The premier venue for promoting the visual arts in the Manhattan Beach community, the Creative Arts Center displays works by locally, nationally and internationally renowned artists, and also serves as site for emerging artists and students from Manhattan Beach and the South Bay area to display their artistic talents. Through partnerships with local organizations, the exhibition program develops a network that contributes to establishing a common ground in the community. The MBCAC exhibits collections all year long, some permanent, but most are rotating exhibits.

The current exhibit (through March 13th) is a beautiful collection of artwork from four internationally known artists titled "Rewilding". The aim of the exhibit is to take viewers out of the world of technology and modern distractions and transport them into the proverbial original garden while evoking a sense of wonder and awe at the beauty and resilience of nature. This online brochure has some great examples from the current exhibit and bios of the artists. Because of its location the center is easy to overlook, but it really is world class. I hope that when some of you are out and about near Polliwog, you'll take the time to enjoy one of the hidden treasures of the South Bay.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Awesome Foodie Event In Redondo Tonight To Benefit Cancer Patients

One of the things I really love about the South Bay is that we truly are a community that cares a lot about giving and supporting great causes, and it seems so many of us are involved in multiple ways of helping where and when we can. Of course, another great benefit of living here is that there are always fun ways to help out, and tonight's Undiscovered Chefs event to benefit the Cancer Support Community-Redondo Beach's free programs for cancer patients and their loved ones looks very inviting.

The event is held at the popular Redondo Beach bistro Chez Melange. Called Food, Booze & You, it is a cooking lesson, social mixer, culinary feast and auction centered around great company, delicious food & inventive cocktails and a message of hope. Student chefs will start preparing the fresh ingredients mid-afternoon, and from 5:00-9:00 guests will watch them work preparing the gourmet meals while they sip drinks and participate in the live and silent auctions.

The event sells out early but owner Michael Franks always saves a few tickets for last minute guests and those who want to be student chefs. As someone who is blessed to be a cancer survivor, I love that our community comes together for great events like this and that every bit of the proceeds go straight to CBC-RB. If you cannot attend but would like to donate (or just learn more about the organization), please visit this link

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Spotlight On Heal The Bay

Those of us who live in the South Bay are incredibly fortunate to live near some of the cleanest beaches in Southern California. In terms of water quality, our waters regularly ace dry weather tests and it is rare that bacteria/pollutant tests don't earn an A+ score. Much of this is due to the amazing efforts by Heal the Bay who, since 1985, have been fighting to keep the Santa Monica Bay safe, healthy and clean. It is a little bit more of a struggle to keep the northern beaches in the bay above average in their water quality, but South Bay residents have really partnered with Heal the Bay to keep our slice of ocean heaven as pristine as possible.

Long time residents may recall that the group's first big victory was getting a judge to order the Hyperion Sewage Treatment Plant to stop dumping incompletely treated sewage in the bay. Now, there is 90% less sewage entering our waters. In 1990, they created a Beach Report Card that is a local analysis of bacteria levels at L.A. area beaches that serves as a guide to let swimmers know if it is OK to get in the water. They have organized massive beach cleanups through Coastal Cleanup Day and Nothin' But Sand, and they were instrumental in the plastic bag ban that lead to Manhattan Beach being one of the first cities in California to ban them.

Although the focus of Heal the Bay spans from Malibu down to Palos Verdes, just 25% of  Heal the Bay’s 15,000 members live in the South Bay. That may change now that Manhattan Beach resident Don Kinsey has recently been chosen to serve as the first chairman of  Heal the Bay to hail from the South Bay. One of his goals is to raise local awareness and participation in the group. This is an especially important goal due to the proposed Hermosa Beach slant-drilling oil operation proposal coming before Hermosa voters later this year.

No matter what challenges we may still face in the future regarding our treasured South Bay beaches and waters, I think we all owe a big debt of gratitude to the amazing work Heal the Bay has done to revitalize the Santa Monica Bay and their continuing work on our behalf to keep it clean and safe.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Valentine's Day Takes On A Latin Flavor In The South Bay This Year!

Happy Valentine's Day everybody! Valentine's Day is always a fun time regarding our local restaurant scene and this year isn't any different. The variety ranges from heart shaped pizzas at Valentino's to a super elegant 6-course tasting menu at BALEENkitchen at The Portofino Hotel & Marina, and this is definitely a great "foodie" weekend. One of the events that looks like it could be particularly fun is the special Valentine's Day Dinner & Samba Show at Samba restaurant in Redondo Beach. The view is amazing, the special menu looks killer and what's more fun than Samba music, colorful showgirls and dancing?

In keeping with the Latin theme, Living Tango is offering Argentine Tango lessons (possibly the most passionately romantic dance in the world!) with champagne and chocolates at a special Valentine's Tango Workshop tonight and tomorrow. Tonight's program is in El Segundo and tomorrow's is in Hermosa, and they are both specially designed for couples who are interested in learning a fun way to connect through connective dance while celebrating life, love and joy. This is definitely an event created with lovebirds in mind.

If the Samba and Tango dancing still has you heated up come Saturday night, Las Brisas Mexican Restaurant in Redondo has beginner and intermediate Salsa dance lessons followed by two hours of group Salsa dancing. Las Brisas is a South Bay landmark and these Salsa evenings (they also have them every Wednesday night) have been popular for a long time. The dancers are always spirited and this is a great way to spend time with your partner in an extremely festive environment while enjoying some pretty tasty authentic Mexican food (such as cactus soup) and some of the best margaritas around. ¡Buen provecho!

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Whale Migration Near Record Levels This Season

I just discovered some great news regarding whale sightings and migration in the South Bay. Scientists with the American Cetacean Society Los Angeles Gray Whale Census and Behavior Project report that so far this season, 1,055 gray whales have been tracked southbound en route to nursing and calving waters off Baja California. Last year at this time the number was 704, so this represents a substantial increase. It is the highest count since the 1997-98 season and represents the third highest count on record, with December being the highest month on record.

Alisa Schulman-Janiger, project director for the ACS/LA census, said that good weather and more gray whales traveling closer to shore may be some of the reasons for the increased count. Four fin whales were also seen traveling together near shore over the weekend, as well. It used to be that fin whale sightings were extremely rare but they, too, have been reported more often in the past five to six years. Fin whales (the second largest animals in the world after blue whales) are in the same family as the blue and humpback whale. February is normally the end of the peak of the southbound migration of gray whales, but this year has been different. There appear to be two peaks this season, Schulman-Janiger said, making this a great year a peak opportunity to get out and see whales firsthand.

The ACS/LA census uses citizen scientists who track whales seen from the Point Vicente Interpretive Center in Ranchos Palos Verdes. If you have never been to the Point Vicente Interpretive Center you definitely have to check out its beautiful park and the expansive natural and cultural exhibits about the history of the peninsula. Whale-watching from there is REALLY fun and there is always a colorful group of locals and regulars camped out along the ocean cliffs. Whale season usually runs from the beginning of December until near the end of May, and the ACS/LA gives monthly talks regarding whale and sea life in the area all year long at Cabrillo Marine Aquarium in San Pedro.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Plenty Of Excitement Over The Rare Whale Skull Excavation At Palos Verdes School Last Week

It looks like the rare fossil found at the Chadwick School in PalosVerdes has become international news! Local news crews such as ABC7, KTLA5, Fox11, and NBCLA showed up early Wednesday morning to witness the excavation of a 12 to 15 million year old whale skull found on the school's property and they created a bit of a media frenzy. The next day the story was national and international news, with publications as diverse as the International Business Times and the U.K. Daily Mail reporting on the event.

Paleontologist Howell Thomas discovered the fossil in October of 2012 after a teacher at the school contacted him to see if any of the "stones"  (actually known as Middle Miocene Era Altamira Shalethat had been lying around the property since the school was built 80 years ago had any special significance. Within seconds of looking at the fossil, he identified the rear of the skull, the blow holes and the location of the snout as that of an ancient Sperm Whale. It is not known if, because of the smaller size of the skull, this is a juvenile whale fossil or a new species but the fossil is seen as further proof that Palos Verdes was at the bottom of the ocean before shifting tectonic plates created its rolling landscape.

If the fossil is indeed a newly identified species, it will likely be named after Chadwick School. They have donated the finding to the Natural History Museum in Los Angeles which, in turn, will create for the school a detailed model of the fossil for display. Restoring the skull could take up to a year and will be a painstaking process. In the meantime, Thomas and other paleontologists and archaeologists will be examining other fossils in the who knows what amazing discoveries await?  I can just imagine how exciting it is for these kids to be a part of history like this and I think it is so cool that all South Bay kids (and adults) have many more interesting historical discoveries to look forward to. 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mira Costa Orchestra Gearing Up For Summer China Trip

The members of the Mira Costa Orchestra Program were, of course, overjoyed when they learned last Fall that their symphony orchestra was one of only 4 high school orchestras in the nation selected to perform in the People’s Republic of China this June and July, and they have been holding fundraisers over the last few months to help with the substantial costs of making sure every student who wants to participate in this amazing experience can do so. Since everyone who knows me knows how strong my Mustang pride is, I thought I would post the link to their fundraising Facebook page, which they update for boosters. Most of the fundraisers have been pretty low-key, fun events and the link will keep you updated if you want to attend any of them in the coming months.

John Crozman and Dean Marshall, co-founders of the popular professional alternative violin ensemble Barrage, extended the enthusiastic invitation to the Mira Costa Orchestra to perform in China after their well-received performance at the Walt Disney Concert Hall last June. Under the program name of League of Astonishing Strings, Crozman and Marshall lead a group of educators, composers and promoters whose goal is to envision, create and produce innovative string music events and projects, and it is a huge honor for them to invite Mira Costa to participate in this trip.

During their trip, Mira Costa Orchestra members will be taking the stage at several world-class venues, including the Hangzhou Grand Theatre (the amazing concert hall pictured above), the Xuzhou Concert Hall, and the prestigious Shanghai Oriental Art Center. In all, the orchestra will be performing at six professional concert venues while visiting seven cities in a span of twelve days. This will be an extraordinary experience for the kids and I congratulate them for their hard work and exceptional talent!

Friday, February 7, 2014

A Few Free Fun Things To Check Out This Weekend

If you haven't yet made plans for tonight you might want to check out Seymour Jewelers in Hermosa for a Benefit Open House for the Boys & Girls Club of Los Angeles. This free event starts at 6:00 p.m. and will feature a wine tasting presented by Uncorked Wines along with refreshments and bites donated by My Fit Foods of Hermosa Beach.  If you have any jewelry that needs attention bring it and they will clean and polish it for free. I first started going to Seymour's with my mom when I was a little girl--and still go there today--so it is nice to see them host this worthy event. Even if you can't make it you can learn more about the Boys and Girls Club here.

For those gals who don't have Valentine's Day plans or just want to splurge this weekend with their girlfriends, the South Bay Galleria is holding something tomorrow it's calling Anti-Valentine’s Pamper Thyself. This is another free event and will feature special sales, giveaways, makeovers, mini-massages, complimentary refreshments and a fun Instagram contest. The first 100 people who show up get a $10 Galleria gift card, and the Instagram contest, where you take pics of you and your friends enjoying the various promotions and post them with a special hashtag, will be giving away gifts to women who post by the end of the day. More info on that is here.

Movie buffs will probably love the Art and the Movies exhibit that starts this weekend at 608 NORTH art gallery in Redondo Beach. Running through February 23rd, the exhibit is a showing of some of the gallery's hundreds of full-size movie posters and original artwork from the 1980's and 1990's, many in French and Spanish. This was an era when special effects and movie promotion reached entirely new levels so there should be some really cool stuff to see, and mixed in among the posters will be original art and photography by artists who have created special pieces celebrating movies, Hollywood and the entertainment industry in general.

As always, if you follow any of these suggestions I'd love to hear your thoughts on how you enjoyed yourself, either here or on my Facebook page.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Manhattan Beach Leads The Soaring Luxury Housing Market In California

As the L.A. Times, the California Association of Realtors and other sources have been reporting over the last few days, sales of $1 million-plus homes went through the roof last year in the Golden State. In a nice surprise, Manhattan Beach recorded 439 million-dollar and up sales — the most in the California in 2013 — edging out Hillsborough in Northern California’s San Mateo County by 3 sales. And it is not just homes commanding top dollar as a lot in the South Sand section of Manhattan Beach recently sold for in excess of $9 million.

Across the state buyers purchased 39,175 homes costing $1 million or more compared to 26,993 in 2012, according to DataQuick, the leading compiler of real estate data and statistics. That’s the most since 42,506 in 2007 and is a whopping 45% increase over 2012. Also,  a record number of buyers — 10,602 — purchased these homes, with Southern California dominating the luxury market once again.

Locals, flippers, athletes, investors and celebrities all played a big role in the boom this last year. This year could prove to have similar activity, as well, and hopefully inventory opens up as folks on the fence about selling realize the true value of their South Bay properties. And, unlike what happened with the San Francisco-area tech boom two decades ago that created instant, young, single millionaires and priced many people out of their communities, Manhattan Beach (and much of the South Bay) is still home to long time residents and families.

Monday, February 3, 2014

Help Manhattan Beach Continue To Be More "Green"

Many of you may know that Manhattan Beach is one of the "greenest" cities in California. Beginning in 2008, the City of Manhattan Beach took action to become an environmentally conscious leader amongst cities in California by creating a community environmental task force to focus on environmental issues and it hired a new Environmental Program manager to coordinate green policies. In 2009, MB held the largest climate action event on the West Coast and last year they became a member of Green Cities California, a coalition of California’s largest and most environmentally progressive jurisdictions dedicated to accelerated environmental sustainability policies and practices.

There are two events going on tonight that illustrate Manhattan Beach's continued commitment to green policies. The first is a free workshop at 7:00 p.m. at Mira Costa High School for those planning on remodeling their home. During this class attendees will learn about ways to make your home more energy and water efficient. The result will be a healthier and more comfortable home, lower energy bills, better energy and water reliability and environmental sustainability. Going green doesn't have to cost an arm and a leg, either, so financial incentives and ideas on financing your remodel will be covered as well. It is sponsored by the South Bay Environmental Services Center and this link will provide you with the details.

Also at 7:00 p.m. this evening is an Earth Day Planning Meeting at the Manhattan Heights Community Center. The City of Manhattan Beach Parks and Recreation Department is seeking volunteers to help plan this special event that takes place on April 26 at Polliwog Park. They need community members to help coordinate food & other vendors, man info booths, help with children's activities, participate in promoting the event, etc., and students may earn community service hours through volunteering. Go to the Voice website for details and a schedule of all of the upcoming meetings for the Earth Day 2014 celebration.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Super Bowl Sunday A Great Day To Get Around L.A.

That is, of course, until the game ends...then, watch out. I'm mentioning this because there are a couple of things going on outside of the South Bay on Sunday that would normally make for a less than fun drive to try to attend but, until at least 6 p.m. or so, should be a breeze to get to and from. As it so happens, they also involve the Chinese New Year that started yesterday (if you didn't know, this is the Year of the Wooden Horse), and this year's celebrations look to be amazingly fun.

The biggest event is the The 115th Annual Golden Dragon Parade and Chinese New Year Festival in the heart of Chinatown. This HUGE celebration is today and Sunday and the festivities start later this afternoon with a series of spectacular floats, decked-out cars, dancers and bands parading through Chinatown (with Mayor Eric Garcetti serving as Grand Marshal this year). Following the parade, the festival will really get underway with cultural performances, children's activities and hands-on cultural workshops. Taste a bit of Chinatown with traditional Chinese cuisine specials offered at a bunch of Chinatown restaurants, or munch on some killer street food and non-traditional dishes offered by some of L.A.'s hottest gourmet food trucks. Eagle Rock Brewery is hosting the craft beer gardens and among the micro-brews represented from all around Los Angeles will be a couple of offerings from the El Segundo Brewing Company. There are a few different locations where there will be large festivities taking place (especially Sunday), so this link will help you sort it out if you decide to take advantage of this FREE event.

Santa Monica Place has authentic Chinese traditions such as the Traditional Chinese Dragon Dance, Chinese Ribbon Dancers, Chinese Stilt Walkers, a New Year’s Wish Tree, a Chinese Henna Tattoo artist, Chinese Children Crafts and complimentary Fortune Cookies planned for Sunday. The Grove in the Fairfax district has erected a towering totem of red cloth and bamboo poles guarded by glittering representations of mythical Chinese beings. Sunday plans include a calligraphy demonstration, drummers and lion dances planned for the lawn. The craziest thing is probably the RACE/LA scavenger hunt on Sunday where you'll search Chinatown for the mysterious Mr. Lee during the big Golden Dragon Festival. Hunt for clues throughout the neighborhood while you discover ancient traditions alongside experimental art, explore picturesque alleyways and traditional temples, bustling shops and hidden courtyards.

So, if you are not into the game and plan to take advantage of smooth sailing on the freeways for most of the afternoon, this Sunday it will be you and Domino's drivers on the road (the company expects to move 1.2 million pies nationwide, a 42 percent increase over the typical Sunday).