by Timothy Rutt
Altadena historian Michele Zack (Altadena: Between Wilderness and City) said that she realized the date was approaching when she shared conversations with Monica Hubbard and then-Altadena Town Council chair Dr. Sandra Thomas.
"As the actual date approached, I just felt we should do something -- and Altadena Heritage is celebrating its 25th birthday, so we thought we should do something for the community."
What it is is a celebration at Davies Auditorium at Farnsworth Park on Nov. 3. Zack, a board member of Altadena Heritage, also roped in Jane Brackman, president of the Altadena Historical Society, as well as Hubbard of the Altadena Women's Network, who if she doesn't know every group in town, soon will; and Dolores Hickambottom, a 50-year Altadena resident and former Citizen of the Year, and Sussy Nemer, senior deputy for Supv. Michael D. Antonovich. Los Angeles County offered the auditorium for free, and Antonovich "kicked in some money," Zack said.
What they envision is a truly community-wide celebration, where different individuals or community groups "adopt" a job that needs to be done (decorating, providing refreshments, putting together the commemorative booklet, etc.)
"Nobody wants a big hierarchical structure," Zack said. "We just want to carve off different jobs, we want people to own whatever part they have responsibility for." Cash donations are also accepted, Zack said.
Among the early contributors are El Patron Mexican Restaurant, which will bring some food, the Altadena Rotary Club, which will handle beer and wine sales, and M&M Printing, which will print up a commemorative program. Zack said that all sponsors -- no matter how great or small -- will have a place in the program.
The program design, by Thomas Stahl, who designs Altadena Heritage's literature, "will be a real keepsake," Zack said.
"We want this to be long on food, fun, and dancing, and short on speeches," Zack said. They're not loping for "a bunch of tables where everyone is promoting an organization, but vertical exhibition displays. We welcome groups to share what they're doing, and there will be one table to leave literature."
Local talent is encouraged to perform in the first hour of the celebratiion (Those Manning Bhoys are already lined up), with the headliner to be the Art Deco Band.
An actual date for the founding of Altadena is "lost in the mists of time," says Zack "John and Fred Woodbury open up the Altadena subdivision in late 1887, sometime in October or November -- and the huge Southern California real setae boom finally busted in late November. The timing was terrible, but the name Altadena stuck." Zack said that Altadena is "one of the few [communities] that is recognized as a standalone community that's not incorporated." Even thought Pasadena has taken 47 bites out of it over the years (the old St. Luke's Hosptal and Marshall Fundamental School used to be in Altadena, and there is a "colony" of Pasadena entirely surrounded by Altadena), it has never been able to annex it, and Altadena has resisted efforts to incorporate itself.
"All Altadenans agree on is not to become Pasadena," Zack said.
Ed. note: Michele Zack clarified the conversation process that kicked this off, and the story has been adjusted accordingly.