SchoolPower Stroke of Genius Gala
March 14 was a record-breaking evening for SchoolPower. The 30th annual gala, themed Stroke of Genius and held at Montage Laguna Beach, featured a Fund-a-Need community campaign that raised the most money in the program’s history. This year’s Fund-a-Need, introduced in a video presented by SchoolPower President Tom Motherway and Laguna Beach Unified School District Chief Technology Officer Mike Morrison, raised $212,000 to bring mobile desks to Laguna classrooms.
The contributions, which matched the district’s financial commitment, will outfit 12 classrooms with large monitors, audio systems and furniture to allow instructional collaboration among students. With the help of the 330 attendees, an additional $157,000 was raised through live and silent auctions and other event revenue. In keeping with the theme, an Albert Einstein impersonator entertained guests well into the night as they helped SchoolPower make history. (lbschoolpower.org) —Allison Hata
Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade
Locals donned their best red, white and blue attire to celebrate community and national spirit during the 49th annual Laguna Beach Patriots Day Parade held March 7. The event, which was cancelled due to rain last year, kicked off at 11 a.m. following a performance by the Laguna Concert Band.
The route began at Park Avenue near the high school, and onlookers cheered as roughly 100 groups made their way through downtown, just passing City Hall; participants included local restaurants, clubs, businesses, school bands and nonprofits. This year’s theme, Home of the Free Because of the Brave, was present throughout the parade: A highlight of the afternoon was when Pageant of the Masters—one of the first in the lineup—brought the iconic Marine Corps War Memorial (also known as the Iwo Jima Memorial) sculpture to life. (lagunabeachparade.org) —Katherine Duncan
Art Star Awards
Artists and supporters filled seven-degrees on April 12 for the Laguna Beach Alliance for the Arts’ Art Star Awards, which acknowledges organizations, businesses and individuals who have contributed significantly to local arts and culture. Attendees enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before moving inside for dinner and the Academy Awards-style presentations.
During his keynote speech, actor Joe Mantegna (best known for his role in the CBS series “Criminal Minds”) shared stories from his youth to adulthood, including the moment he initially discovered acting in Cicero, Ill., and his first visit to Laguna Beach. Afterward, winners were announced in seven categories, from best arts program to individual arts patron of the year. Gerard Basil Stripling and Michele Taylor shared the artist of the year award for their collaboration on the Eternal Legacy sculpture located outside of the Laguna Beach Police Department. The work is dedicated to local officers who lost their lives in the line of duty. Gerard and Michele, along with the rest of the winners, took home one-of-a-kind award sculptures created by Louis Longi. (lagunabeacharts.org) —K.D.