There have been a lot of things happening in the Venice area over the past few weeks.

One of the most inspiring was the lighting of the Olympic torch by Los Angeles Mayor James Hahn in the hands of actor Sly Stallone.

The crowd was cheering and excited that the cross-country run started at our own Venice Beach.

The “Beach Toys” and the LMU (Loyola Marymount University) Choir provided the entertainment, but the focus was on the torch and all that is to come.

SUMMER FUN FOR KIDS —Speaking of Mayor Hahn, I hope that everyone has been listening to his daily announcements on K-BIG 104 FM during the past week.

Each day around 7 a.m., he has been telling us where to take our children for fun in the city park system.

He started with Carrillo Beach Pier for fishing in San Pedro and then moved on to the Benjamin Franklin Library with Teen Screen, a program that teaches teens about making films.

Next, he mentioned cooling off at the splash pads, which allow kids to run through fountains and other waters in parks without pools, and today he discussed the Griffith Park Zoo and the Destination Dinosaur exhibit.

You can find out about these and other available activities provided by the City of Los Angeles at www.laparks.org.

VENICE-MARINA ROTARY — The Venice Marina Rotary Club held a demotion party for club president David Maxwell Saturday, June 28th, and provided a comical look into his life, including an extreme makeover by Dr. Vince Scott.

Throughout Maxwell’s year as Rotary president, he focused on activities to support our youth, including securing a grant from the club and Rotary International for the Venice Family Clinic Car Seat Program.

Carmen Portnoy was sworn in as new president and the other officers for the 2004-05 year include:

Mary Richert, president-elect;

Giselle Rebeiro, secretary;

Tom Ryan, treasurer;

Steve Williamson, co-treasurer;

Jeffrey Solomon, sergeant-at-arms; and

David Maxwell, past president.

FLOWERS HONORED — Alan Flowers, AIFD (American Institute of Floral Designers), was awarded the Paul Ecke, Jr., Flower and Garden Show International Design Competition award at the San Diego County Fair Sunday, June 27th.

Flowers is the owner of Venice Flowers, at 144 Lincoln Blvd., and a Venice Chamber board member.

He is also on the board of the Los Angeles Coastal Counties Unit (LACCU) of Teleflora Educational Division, which will be kicking off “Make Someone Smile” Week on Sunday, July 11th.

The unit plans to assemble 260 “happy face” mugs to be distributed at Children’s Hospital the following day.

If you are interesting in volunteering to be part of this national campaign, give Flowers a call at (310) 392-4554.

NIKE INSTALLATION — Nike recently held an intimate gathering especially for Venice Chamber of Commerce members, community leaders, area nonprofit organizations and business owners at a private gallery installation on Venice Beach.

The event, entitled Venice Community Spirit, celebrated the efforts of the company through youth sport donations and shared Nike work in the sports industry.

Nike believes it’s important to be a good corporate citizen and to help youths stay healthy and active.

NikeGo is Nike’s signature U.S. community affairs initiative and the company’s long-term commitment to getting kids more physically active. The program’s mission is to increase physical activity in youths between eight and 15 years old, offering them the support and motivation to become physically active, stay healthy, and have fun.

Celeste Alleyne, Nike community affairs and communications director, has been very involved in our community and is a Venice Chamber board member.

PLAYA VISTA CONCERTS —Playa Vista held a terrific event at its Concert Park Sunday, June 27th, to kick off the Playa Vista summer concert series.

The Answer, the official house band of Arrow 93 FM, played rock and roll for several hours as community members ate dinner and danced to the music.

A little known fact is that Sibyl Buchanan, Playa Vista community affairs director, was the only person who knew the name of every band and the songs for which they were famous.

The next concert will be between 5:30 and 7 p.m. Sunday, July 25th.

If you are interested in attending — and there were more than 800 people at this first event — call for additional information and reservations at (310) 448-4605.

YOUTH ART GALLERY —The first LA Youth Art Gallery will hold its grand opening from 5 to 8 p.m. Saturday, July 17th, at 1809 Lincoln Blvd., Venice.

The gallery is called Venice Arts: in Neighborhoods Gallery and the title of the show is Greatest Hits. The show will feature outstanding photography by young artists.

The show will run from Saturday, July 17th, to Friday, September 3rd.

This is a great way to support our youths and get a first-hand look at the future talent of our community.

CENTENNIAL COMING — Venice will be 100 years old in just under a year — Monday, July 4th, 2005.

The celebration will start with a breakfast Sunday, June 26th, and culminate on Monday, July 4th.

There will be many exciting activities, including a parade, banners, souvenirs, a live music event, a Taste of Venice, a film festival, theater productions, architectural and historical tours.

Committees are forming to plan this week of celebration and all are looking for volunteers.

Sandy Kievman, Los Angeles Councilwoman Cindy Miscikowski deputy, and David Buchanan, Marina Media Group, are co-chairs of the event.

Those who wish to become involved can get more information from Kievman at (310) 575-8461.

VENICE CHAMBER MIXER — The Venice Chamber will hold its next mixer from 5 to 7 p.m. Wednesday, July 28th, at La Cabana Restaurant, 738 Rose Ave.

The mixer will offer networking opportunities, outstanding Mexican cuisine, great raffle prizes and fun for all.

CHEESE, WINE EVENT —Also on Wednesday, July 28th, the Venice Marina Rotary Club will hold its 2004 Cheese & Wine Event from 6:30 to 9 p.m. at the BGH Gallery, Bergamot Station Building D4, 2525 Michigan Ave., Santa Monica.

Featured will be some of LA’s finest art exhibits and the Venice Jazz Ensemble.

If you would like to attend, please give me a call at (310) 664-7920 for ticket information.

BIG DONATION —The Franklin Mint has pledged $80,000 to the Venice Family Clinic, earmarked for mental health services over the next two years.

Clinic chief executive officer Elizabeth Benson Forer said the clinic will use the commitment as a challenge grant to raise additional funds.

A part-time Spanish-speaking psychiatrist will be hired with the grant funds.

The Venice Family Clinic, the largest free clinic in the nation, provides primary health care to nearly 20,000 patients at seven facilities.

OAKWOOD WOMEN — With a Woman’s Touch is an independent group of African American women in the Oakwood neighborhood of Venice that has been meeting for the last couple of months to voice concerns about young, teen, and senior women who seek to uplift their spirits.

The group is new and all are welcome to attend meetings, held on Monday nights.

The women have a small group that wants to help in areas of volunteerism, mentorship and tutoring, event planning, and advocacy.

To confirm location and meeting times and to learn more about the group and its mission, call (310) 664-7943.

THREE SCHOLARSHIPS —The Los Angeles Police Department Pacific Area Boosters awarded three scholarships to area graduating students Thursday, July 1st.

Erica Shaw of St. Bernard High School in Playa del Rey and Mia Livers of Westchester High School were presented with scholarship checks by Gwen Vuchsas, Boosters president, and Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) Capt. Bill Williams, Pacific Area commanding officer.

Awardee Florencio Cruz of Venice High School was unable to be attend the presentation.

These three students have shown outstanding character and determination to complete their studies and make better lives for themselves and their families and the Boosters are very proud of their accomplishments.

LAPD NATIONAL NIGHT OUT — The Pacific Community Police Station will hold the annual National Night Out at 7 p.m. Tuesday, August 3rd.

A march will be held from the police station, 12312 Culver Blvd., in the Del Rey area, to the Mar Vista Gardens housing community, culminating with food, fun, and entertainment.

An event planning meeting was scheduled to be held at the Pacific Community Police Station at 4 p.m. Wednesday, July 7th, in the Senior Lead Officer Trailer.

Anyone interested is invited to the planning session and the August 3rd event.

If you have any questions, call your senior lead officer or the Pacific Area community relations office, (310) 202-4524.

HOT AIR PROPOSAL — On a final note — and just to prove that romance is not dead — Mike McMillan proposed to Cecilia Munoz in a hot air balloon flying over the Napa Valley at 6:30 a.m. Friday, July 2nd.

I know we all wish them the best of luck and happiness in the future.

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