It’s hard to believe but next week brings the second half of the year already.

Local communities are gearing up for their Independence Day celebrations.

SM FIREWORKS — In Santa Monica, Santa Monica College and the city will be holding the wonderful annual “Celebrate America” event Saturday evening, July 3rd, at Santa Monica College Corsair Field.

This is truly one of the best local events we have.

In addition to the fireworks show, there is music from several groups. This year, the musical portion of the show will conclude with the dynamic USC Trojan Marching Band.

Even you UCLA grads are invited to attend.

Since we spent two years at UCLA, we probably fall within that group. We have always felt the USC Trojan Marching Band is one of the best bands around.

We really enjoyed those days when the UCLA Band and the USC Trojan Marching Band would climb aboard boats and play during the annual Marina boat parades.

The dueling college bands brought real zing to those boat parades.

Although the SM College fireworks show won’t start until about 9 p.m., it is important to remember that gates will close at 8:45 p.m.

The fun begins at 5 p.m. July 3rd. That’s when families with picnics and those who like to sit in the grandstand will be allowed in. Each year families and friends spred out their blankets on the football field and enjoy a summer picnic while the music plays and later the fireworks fill the sky.

There will be food stands where participants can buy food and local organizations will no doubt again set up information booths to take advantage of the community event.

There will be the obligatory patriotic speeches from elected officials, flags will fly and a good time will be had by all.

Admission is free but it would be nice if you brought some greenbacks to fill the donation canisters volunteers will have available at the entry gates.

Parking is $5 and accessed from the 1900 block of Pico Boulevard.

More information available at (310) 434-3001.

WESTCHESTER PARADE — The Westchester/LAX-Marina del Rey Chamber of Commerce will again be presenting its annual July 4th parade down Loyola Boulevard from Manchester Avenue.

Please note that this year the parade will start at noon.

There will also be no organized picnic on the grass at Loyola Marymount University as in previous years, but we suspect many will want to bring their own picnic goodies and spread out on the campus lawn immediately following the parade.

More details from the chamber, (310) 645-5151.

VENICE BEACH — All the wonderful wackiness of Ocean Front Walk is promised again this Independence Day.

That means body building contests and exhibitions and lots of folks in a holiday mood.

The City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks will be sponsoring the annual Mr. and Ms. Muscle Beach.

Promised are “guest posers” Ronnie “Macho” Camacho, a state light heavyweight division champion and a former Venice Classic winner, and Lauren Powers.

For the rest of us, there will be music from “98-pound Weakling” — something we can relate to, although many moons have gone over the mountain since we were 98 pounds of anything.

If you want to compete in all this “Star-Spangled Day of Muscles,” you can register your body at 7:30 a.m. and be ready for pre-judging starting at 10 a.m.

Alas, too many folks have been “prejudging” our body for far too long, so we’ll just be sitting back and waiting for the 12:30 p.m. “parade of participants” and presentation of an Army color guard.

It will be difficult to be at both the Venice Beach body prancing and the Westchester Parade fun but we’ll try to make the most of it.

Back at Venice Beach at 2 p.m., there will be the final judging of bodies in each division.

The event is scheduled to continue until 5 p.m.

You can make a day of it, bringing along your lunch, although after seeing these perfect bodies, you might want to stick to a few raw carrot sticks and some celery.

Location of all this activity is the Venice Beach Recreation Center, more commonly known as “Muscle Beach.”

Other groups participating with the city in this event are Bodybuilding.com and KIIS-FM, which will have a remote set up to catch all the ooohs and ahhhs.

The emcee for all this fun will be Bill Grant, a former Mr. World and Mr. America, and Dave Draper, a Muscle Beach Hall of Famer, is also promised.

For more details, (310) 399-2775.

MARINA FIREWORKS — At 9 p.m. Sunday, July 4th, the County Department of Beaches and Harbors will fire off its annual fireworks show over the Marina channel.

This is always one of the biggest events of the Marina year and attracts visitors from a wide area.

Remember that there is no street parking allowed in the Marina. County parking lots will be charging their usual $2.

KXLU-FM, the Loyola Marymount University station, will be offering sychronized patriotic music that will be piped into Burton Chace Park during the fireworks show.

JUDITH ENDLER — Glad to be able to report that our boating columnist Judith Endler is on the mend after her very serious vehicle accident last week.

Judith was on Jefferson Boulevard near Home Depot, making a left turn from eastbound Jefferson when she was hit by a speeding driver who allegedly had been drinking.

Judith was seriously injured, had to be pulled from her vehicle and suffered several broken ribs and extreme injuries to her left leg.

Tuesday we dropped in to see Judith, who is still at a medical facility in Santa Monica, and found her unsually chipper for someone who had been in such a serious accident.

Although Judith will be in rehab for some time, she told us she is anxious to get back to writing for The Argonaut.

SEEKING SPONSORS — It’s hardly news when a local organization seeks sponsors, but this week the Friends of Los Angeles Synchro are sending out faxes, seeking funds to support “the official synchronized swimming team for the City of Los Angeles.”

The synchronized swimmers will hold their annual water show, “Around the World in 80 Minutes,” at 3 p.m. Saturday, July 10th, at Loyola Marymount University.

The swimming team is part of the City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks Community Service Branch Citywide Aquatics — try getting that on a business card.

The team includes about 30 girls, seven to 17 years old.

While the city supports the team training sessions, all travel expenses for the swimming team are the responsibility of individual team members.

Planned are trips for 15 swimmers to regional championships in Scottsdale, 13 swimmers to group championships in Indianapolis, eight swimmers to an international event in New Orleans, 12 swimmers to an invitational event in San Diego and 16 swimmers to state games in San Diego.

Sounds like they need quite a few traveling dollars.

Those who wish to support this group can get more information from Karen Rosoloski, head coach, at (310) 809-2708.

LMU SUMMER CLASSES — For those of you who want to keep your minds active during the summer, Loyola Marymount University has announced a two-page list of July classes.

Included are classes on spirituality, ethics and Vedic chanting. Most of us will have to sign up just to learn what Vedic chanting is.

Our in-the-know What’s On editor — who is considerably younger than your “knows very little about most of what is going on these days” editor — tells us it all has to do with Hindu culture.

LMU officials tell us those who sign up will “have the opportunity to explore the art of listening and chanting in Sanskrit.”

To register, (310) 338- 2799 or http://extension.lmu.edu/yoga

E-mails can be sent to:

yoga @lmu.edu

BEST OF CRIMEWATCH — With the Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Area crime report getting so long these days, we have been thinking about starting a new column, “The Best of the Crime Watch.”

While crime is never lighthearted stuff for the victims, some folks do some pretty silly things sometimes.

You have to wonder why there aren’t more losses.

Our favorite this week was the lady who went to the ATM machine, stuck in her withdrawal card, pulled out some cash — we suspect it wasn’t much — then turned around to chatter with friends without pulling out her ATM card.

An eagle eye behind her stepped forward withdrew $400 for himself — or herself — and simply walked away.

Took the victim weeks to realize the theft had even been conducted. She was probably too busy chatting to notice.

Our editorial comment:

“Don’t do that.”

Along with that bumper sticker aimed at those who chatter on cell phones while they drive — “Shut up and drive!” — perhaps we should add a new message:

“Stop chattering for a moment after you have put your withdrawal card in an ATM.”

WRONG SUPPORT — West Hollywood Assemblyman Paul Koretz was so busy trying to line up big names for his photo op to announce a bill Koretz proposed to ban smoking on all state beaches that the assemblyman hardly had time to line up votes on the first group to hear the bill, the State Senate Natural Resources Committee.

Before we could even get the big Koretz media event in the paper, the state committee knocked down the Koretz bill and moved on to other things.

What ever happened to the grand old political skill of counting votes?

And then there was the announcement this week, printed in the always timely Los Angeles Business Journal, that a host of Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn-appointed city commissioners were bailing out of their city commission posts in order to support the mayorial efforts of Hahn opponent former Assembly speaker Robert Hertzberg.

Among the defectors is Marina lessee and downtown LA biggie Doug Ring, who resigned his seat on the City of Los Angeles Community Redevelopment Agency.

The Business Journal noted that Ring is married to our local Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski, so one has to assume she will also be endorsing Hertzberg.

But one can never be sure about these power couples.

We recall our visit to the U.S. Embassy in Tokyo, where we got to have dinner with U.S. Ambassdor to Japan Howard Baker and his equally important wife, Nancy Kassebaum.

When we asked Ambassador Baker if he and his wife ever had political differences, Baker replied with a twinkle:

“While I am in Japan, I am honored to speak for my President, but I never speak for my wife.”

Incidentally, that is a rather dashing photo of Marina lessee Ring accompanying the article about his defection from Hahn.

For those who missed the news, other Hahn appointees resigning to support Hertzberg include Lisa Specht, who had served on both the Los Angeles City Coliseum and Los Angeles Recreation and Parks Commisisons.

Adding salt to her defection is the news that she will serve as co-chair of the Hertzberg campaign.

Also of local interest is that former police chief and now councilman Bernard Parks picked a spot at 9100 Sepulveda Blvd. for his election campaign office.

Parks’ son is heading the campaign but we’d say the candidate’s strongest asset is his delightful wife Bobbie. She enchanted us and many others in the room when she came to West-chester to stand in for the police chief during a lunch some years ago.

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