A Jazzy Celebration


MONTCLARION SEPT 10, 2009

Everyone loves a good block party – and one of the best is set for this Sunday at the Montclair Village Jazz & Wine Festival. Truth be told – the event was threatened this year by the struggling economy. But thanks to the work of a few tireless volunteers, the bands have been hired, the tents are going up and the show will go on.

How did they find the money to put on this admission-free event? Two civic leaders, Leslie Masler and Jacque Hachquet, started a raffle and got Jet Blue to donate four round trip airline tickets. Other businesses jumped on board, with over 20 prizes coming from Montclair merchants alone.

Now we just need to support the effort and buy raffle tickets – five bucks apiece or five for $20. I don’t know about you, but with all these prizes – I like the odds, not to mention the event itself.

This is the 7th year for this jazz and wine festival. If you’ve never been, it’s a great way to taste the fruits of some 26 California wineries, hear talented musicians and buy one-of-a-kind local art.

But most of all, it’s a way for us to lift our spirits and celebrate our community. We have a lot for which to be grateful – and sometimes we forget.

To this end – I raise my glass to Masler and Hackquet and everyone who has worked so hard to keep this great party alive. Let’s turn out to support it, and snap up those raffle tickets! (Tickets can be purchased at Bank of America, Chase, A Great Good Place for Books, Pacific National Bank, Wheels of Justice, re4m, Montclair Sporting Goods, Sarber’s Cameras, Crogan’s, Bank of the West, Montclair Physical Therapy & Wellness and at the Festival itself).

Tibetan treasures: One of Montclair’s charms is its eclectic shopping district. If you get a chance, this weekend, check out the Tibetan furniture at the mother-daughter owned shop called Utopia at 6116 La Salle Avenue. My friend, JoEllen Hruvy is a former flight attendant (40 years with United Airlines) who collects treasures from Tibet and sells them on consignment at Utopia. Her prized piece is a beautiful hand-painted chest carved with Tibetan prayers from the Dalai Lama. She says only rich people in Tibet own this type of furniture and she’s able to buy it through her connections with a Tibetan family she befriended in China. She purchases the pieces on her quarterly trips to China and then has them shipped to the Port of Oakland.

High note: Next time you’re feeling stressed out, try exercising your vocal chords. Reader Laurie Leiber says singing with the Distaff Singers is great therapy, not to mention a good way to raise money for charity. The women’s chorus makes enough money at their annual concert (October 10 at Skyline High) to support over a dozen music education programs in the East Bay. For more information and to order tickets, see their website at http://www.distaffsingers.org.

Street beat: Oakland’s parking rebellion has caught the attention of at least one Sacramento television anchor, who called me last week for more information. They also wanted our parking chief’s direct line, saying he’s been hard to reach. Really? I can only imagine the deluge of calls Noel Pinto is getting in the wake of the city’s disastrous decision to raise fines and extend meter hours. I can hardly keep up with the mail, myself.

Wet and Wild: This may be the best way yet to see San Francisco. The new RocketBoats at Pier 39 are making a huge splash with visitors who want a 30 minute thrill ride around the bay. The dual-engine speedboats take you flying out to Treasure Island, under the Bay Bridge, past AT&T Park and along the skyline on a wild ride that rivals anything you can do at an amusement park. And with the price of gas these days – $26 seems like a good deal.

Got news? You can reach Ginny Prior by phone at 510-273-9418, by email at ginnyprior@hotmail.com or on the web at http://www.ginnyprior.com.

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