Petaluma July 4th Fireworks—Last Show?

Fireworks at the celebration of the United Sta...

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On March 17, 2011, I reported on the shortfall in monies for the upcoming July 4th celebration and fireworks show:

“According to Jan Mandrell of Parks & Rec: “Normally we shoot a $25,000 show. Without another $6,000 and we will only get a $20,000 show…(that) makes a big difference in the quality of the show and the size of the BANG for YOUR Buck!” In addition, Jan points out that unless they make the $6000 shortfall, there will be no entertainment and ”Children’s activities will be streamlined.”

As of this morning, March 28, 2011, they are still $5000 short. 

The good news is that the show will go on, albeit it will most likely be a smaller show and celebration unless the shortfall is made up quickly.  I suspect that this will be difficult if not impossible to achieve.

At least there will be a show thanks to the heroic efforts of Jan Mandrell of Parks & Rec and the assistance and support of the local Kiwanis Club. In these difficult economic times a special thanks goes out to the corporate and individual donors who managed to find the money to make a show possible.

Looking into the tea leaves of the future, it may be time to consider that the show this year should be the last. 

  • Raising money this year was understandably difficult and I see no reason why it will be easier next year.  Most likely it will be even harder.
  • Given the increasing pressures on City Staff to do more with less, and most likely to do even more with even less in 2012, I seriously doubt that they can continue (should continue?) to provide organizational and administrative support after this year.

Something to think about…

Spring (Soggy) In Petaluma

Today, I had planned to post a brief article recognizing or directing attention to the new blog header I created just for the season.

Instead, I am writing about…

…weather only a duck would love

On this first day of spring I got up early, unclogged a downspout, and noted the 2.5 inches of rain in the rain gauge. My scanner was crackling with county-wide police and fire traffic reporting wires down, trees down, trees into homes, flooded roads, and flooded intersections.  As predicted, the first in a series of storms with rain and high wind did their best to tax the resources of Petaluma and the other public safety agencies in Sonoma County.

As storms go it was not a “lollapalooza” as predicted by KGO Radio, but it was a significant storm nonetheless.  Given the fact that we are already waterlogged from past storms, this storm was bound to produce problems. The scanner traffic was proof enough.

During a lull in the rain (around 8:00 am) I took a quick walk around our East Side ‘Hood to see how we fared.  There were lots of branches and other debris in the landscape. However, on balance it was not too bad with this being the most dramatic scene I encountered…

The low-lying areas are flooded as usual…

As expected, the lake in Lucchesi is quite high, almost at level with the puddles on the other side of the walkway…

And of course, the creeks are running…

East Washington


A WORD OF CAUTION–It seems as if this has to be repeated every year: Do not drive through flooded roadways! You may not make it out. And if you encounter barricades, do not go around them.  In Petaluma, the police set up barricades on a flooded street and people were still driving around them.  Fortunately, their efforts were “rewarded” with citations.

Fireworks Show Saved???

The article in this morning’s Argus (Click Here) reported that the July 4th Fireworks show has been saved.  

However, as they are still $6000 short in donations, the show will not be as large as in the past unless they can make it up in the next week.

Certainly, the fund raising effort has brought the project to the point where there will be a show…

According to Jan Mandrell of Parks & Rec: “Normally we shoot a $25,000 show. Without another $6,000 and we will only get a $20,000 show…(that) makes a big difference in the quality of the show and the size of the BANG for YOUR Buck!” In addition, Jan points out that unless they make the $6000 shortfall, there will be no entertainment and “Children’s activities will be streamlined.”

In short, they are still seeking donations in any amount to meet the goal!

Anyone interested in contributing should make a check out to “City of Petaluma, Fireworks” and send it to Jan Mandrell, 320 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma 94954. You can also donate by calling 707-778-4380 or in person at the Petaluma Community Center. The City has also set up a link on its web page (Click Here) if you want to contribute online.  Simply click on the link and scroll down to Donations. You will need to create an account if you do not already have one.

Donations may be as little as a $1 and will buy a Star to be posted on the wall.

In closing, a special thanks to these contributors…

All the “world” seems to be in free fall…

There is no doubt that one’s outlook on life is affected by past life experiences and current age.  No matter how I sugar coat it, at age 66 I am desperately trying to avoid turning into a grumpy ole man…and failing in the effort. 

  • Perhaps my grumpy nature this morning is affected by the fact that we are preparing our tax returns for 2010. 
  • Perhaps my grumpy nature is also affected by the fact that yesterday I had a “coffee appointment” at Peet’s with another scoundrel of similar age and station in life. We both made it on time…except that each of us went to a different Peet’s.
  • Perhaps my grumpy nature is fueled by the just received solicitation from the Trident Society to “Act now to protect your loved ones later…before your loved ones lose thousands of dollars.” They want me to learn about the benefits of cremation and perhaps also win a free cremation! Just what I’ve always wanted…

The above notwithstanding, no matter where you turn today, you encounter stories of crumbling government budgets, diminished public services, thriving war and pestilence throughout the world, crashing financial markets, and unbelievable natural and nuclear disasters in Japan.

In the midst of this tsunami of bad news, Suzanne Maggio-Hucek posted an article that is worth a few minutes of your time. With one photo she says a lot about what one can do in these trying times. Click on I will to see her post.  I genuinely admire her optimism, even if I find it hard to share it at the moment. See below…

“Remember in this game we call life…
That no one said it’s fair”–Breakdown, Guns ‘N Roses

Click Photo to Enlarge

Shoeless in Petaluma…?

…or barefoot in P-Town?

One almost expects to see people walking around in their socks or barefoot given the number of shoes hanging from the utility wires around our fair city. For example…

2nd Street has a nice assortment of shoes…

The popular term for this method of displaying shoes is “shoefiti”–as you know, there is a word for everything these days. The significance of shoefiti is the subject of much debate, which I will not explore. Suffice it to say that many of the “explanations” are simply fanciful urban myths. Check out Cecil Adams or the Wikipedia links for more…

However–there is always an “however”–can Petaluma shoefiti be turned into an opportunity!

What if an enterprising group of boosters set up a committee to organize a yearly shoefiti contest? Perhaps the event could be combined with one of the other annual celebratory events around town. Imagine blocking off several streets for the Annual Petaluma Shoefiti Contest. It could fill the void created by the loss of the wrist wrestling contest to Reno.

NOTE: Many of the shoes appear to be in good to excellent condition. So….if you see a pair that looks to be your size…

Nah…I would not try it if I were you.

Peet’s Coffee Hound(s)…Ah…I Mean Horse(s)?

Over the years I have had the pleasure of photographing some unique scenes around Peet’s Coffee and Noah’s Bagels on the East Side.  For example, Murphy & Max and Ginger & Bronx.

On March 4, Saturday afternoon, I came across this vision outside Peet’s…

“Whoa!” I said when I spotted the horses. Was this the first evidence of a rebellion against $4 gasoline? Camera in hand, I checked it out. 

The explanation, while straightforward, was still uniquely Petaluman. The man on horseback is Baden Whitehead, a man who has been on a Horseback Odyssey across the United States.  He has been in the area since last summer generating articles in the Press Democrat and The Argus Courier. See A real horseman rides into Petaluma and A Life in the Saddle. Baden also has a blog site, From the Hoof, where you can read about his adventures.

So what was he doing at Peet’s? He just rode in for a cup of coffee.  His riding companion was Laurie Osborne of Sonoma County Reptile Rescue

As an aside, this was the second time I saw Baden at Peet’s.  The first time was few days before when he rode in and tied his horse up to the bicycle rack outside Peet’s. I did not have a camera with me at the time–trust me, I beat myself up over that mistake BIG time. However, the Photography Gods smiled on me and presented another opportunity–”Frank, will you be ready to photograph two horses if we give you another chance?”

In closing, Happy Trails to Baden as he rides around Petaluma…

NOTE: Be sure and check out the links in the story to get a fuller background. The photos in this post may be enlarged by clicking on them.

Finials Fireworks Pensions & Photos

 This article serves to update developments in recent stories previously posted on this site


The Petaluma Finials     


Last month, I attempted to ascertain the source for the decorative metal finials on several sidewalk poles in the downtown area. Failing in that effort, I offered a tongue in cheek answer in The Petaluma Mystery Sculpture(s)

I can now advise that the finials are not antennae to facilitate communication with the Mothership. Instead they are decorative finials made here in Petaluma by Edgar Haris, noted “…local sculptor, designer, metalsmith in descending order….”

Haris & Company
Artistic Metal Work
250-A Water Street
Petaluma, CA 94952

All Petaluma historians, official and otherwise, take note and duly record Edgar Haris as the creator of these unique ornamentals.

Petaluma Fireworks 

On February 11, I wrote about the efforts of Parks & Rec to put together the annual July 4th celebration and fireworks show. See Petaluma…You Too Can Be A Star!

Given recent articles on Petaluma 360 regarding the continuing need to raise money to meet the funding goals, I stopped by the Community Center to get an update. I believe it is safe to say that Jan Mandrell of Parks & Rec is cautiously optimistic that they will make it; however, donations are still needed to get them to the finish line. They are half way to the $50,000 goal and scrambling to get the rest…

(Roberta Guerra, Terry Connoly, Jan Mandrell, Tom D’Asto, Roseann Lille)

There have been comments on Petaluma 360 Forums about how the costs could be reduced if they would just manage things better. The fact is the planned budget for the July 4th event is extremely precise, sparse, and barebones. Jan Mandrell has many years of experience in planning these events.  For a fuller explanation of what is involved, Click Here 

Anyone interested in contributing can “Buy A Star” by making a check out to “City of Petaluma, Fireworks” and sending it to Jan Mandrell, 320 N. McDowell Blvd., Petaluma 94954. You can also donate by calling 707-778-4380 or in person at the Petaluma Community Center. The City has also set up a link on its web page (Click Here) if you want to contribute online.  Simply click on the link and scroll down to Donations. You will need to create an account if you do not already have one.

Buy A Star and Be a Star

First Your Home…Now Your Pension?  September 2010

In this two-part series (Click Here & Click Here) I told the story of a 76-year-old female Alzheimer’s patient who had received a pension for 11 years and was facing a claim by the payor that the pension was overpaid.

To briefly recap the story: “The pension in question started with a 1999 letter from the employer’s pension administrator that opened with, “This will confirm that you are entitled to receive a vested accrued benefit under the…Plan in the amount of $… per month…for your lifetime.” Then, as I reported previously, on September 17th of this year, she received a letter from the bank currently administering the pension advising that she had been overpaid and they were asking her to repay $42,814.42.”

Thanks to the assistance of an attorney retained by the family, I can now advise that the pensioner is no longer facing a claim for repayment.  The pension will be adjusted going forward. However, the attempt to recoup past payments has been dropped.


Over the last year or so, I have attempted to improve my skills with a camera through various classes, books, etc.  I think of it as raising my level of confusion to a higher plane. This effort brought me into conflict with the various platforms that display digital photos and forced me to make some decisions about format size and the ultimate end-user experience.

While the fact of the matter is that the majority of web page viewing is done on small screen mobile devices–smart phones, iPads, whatever–I have elected to focus on desktop or full screen presentations. Granted, this reduces the potential audience but to borrow from Clark Gable’s famous line in Gone with the Wind… “Frankly…I don’t give a damn.” The truth of the matter is that I have gone over to the dark side and actually prefer prints as opposed to virtual digital images, but that is another story.

With my new digital attitude firmly in place, I recently revamped my photo blog.  If you are so inclined, you can check it out (I do not recommend using your mobile phone) at The Petaluma Spectator Photo BlogIn particular, see Ski Petaluma! and Sonoma Scenes…Street, Alley, Walkway