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Local Home Delights Horror-Film Fans Once Again

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review
If you’re a horror movie fanatic, the SugarMynt Gallery in South Pasadena might be the place for you. The gallery recently resumed its backyard screenings of horror flicks after the pandemic put the kibosh on such gatherings for much of its duration.

Blankets are strewn about a fenced-in turf lawn, and stars above begin their slow entrance into the mild South Pasadena spring evening, matching the glow of battery-operated candles and string lights. Couples hold hands and families sit close.
On a large screen in front of them, a zombie takes a bite the size of a large tomato out of the shoulder of a human.
It’s a typical Saturday night in the SugarMynt Gallery back yard, and owner SaraRose Orlandini is treating gallery guests to a complimentary screening of George A. Romero’s seminal 1978 film, “Dawn of the Dead.”
“This is a weird place to be at, because it’s a business in a house,” Orlandini said. “And then it’s just so wide open out here and like, just seeing the house in the trees. It’s, like, always Halloween in South Pas. It feels that way, summer, fall, it doesn’t matter. It’s just the way it looks. So it’s just beautiful.”

City Council Pulls Back on Manager Choice

The City Council has refocused its sights on an apparent second top candidate for the city manager position this week after “community opposition and concerns” prompted it to renege on its offer to its initial preference.
After planning to formally approve and introduce Christopher Jordan as the new city manager at the Wednesday council meeting, the city announced Tuesday night that it would now pursue the unnamed second candidate and conduct the background check and negotiations. The council seems to have made this decision at a special closed session meeting Tuesday.
“The City Council will not consider approval of an employment agreement with Mr. Jordan and will now direct its attention toward the other candidate,” the city manager’s office wrote in a statement.
Ten responses from 13 residents and one local organization filed to the council this week cast doubt and criticism of Jordan’s prospective hire, consistently highlighting his time as city manager for Los Altos that ended with his resignation in November.

A Year Into Pandemic, Unemployment Still Elevated

South Pasadena’s March unemployment rate was significantly higher than it was in March 2020, according to state data, though the gap continues to narrow.
The city’s unemployment rate fell from 7.3% in February to 7% in March — the lowest since the beginning of the pandemic — according to preliminary data from the California Employment Development Department, reflecting a decrease in the number of unemployed workers from 1,100 to 1,000.
However, both the city’s labor force — the number of residents either working or actively looking for work — and its number of employed residents also dropped by 100.
Los Angeles County reported similar changes, though its unemployment rate remained flat between the two months at 10.9%. The number of unemployed workers in the county fell from about 556,900 to 555,100, but its labor force also shrunk by nearly 23,000 residents.

Musicians Mourn 2020, the Year That Concerts Died

Photo courtesy Huntington Middle School
Rob Folsom, the South Pasadena native who runs Huntington Middle School’s orchestra in San Marino, said “something was missing” when he tried pivoting the orchestra to virtual practices.

Suppose musicians wanted to give a concert, but nobody came.
Or to paraphrase Don McLean from his classic song, “American Pie,” from mid-March 2020 to now, it has been the year that many music performances before a live audience died.
And most musicians, orchestra administrators and music teachers aren’t singing. They are sobbing because their worlds have been turned upside down.
“Our musicians have been devastated by the pandemic. Musicians — like athletes — have to keep in shape to do their job,” said Lora Unger, chief executive officer of the Pasadena Symphony. “There is no ‘to-go’ option for musicians. For them, in some ways, it has been a worse time than it has been for restaurant workers.”

Tigers End Season on High Note

Photo by Eric Danielson
The South Pasadena High School football team defeated Temple City, 38-8, last Friday and finished the season with a 2-1 record.

The South Pasadena High School varsity football team closed out its abbreviated season with a 38-8 victory over visiting Temple City last Friday, but the result was of secondary importance to Tigers head coach Jeff Chi.
“It was a very short season, but we’re grateful and appreciative to get the opportunity to play, especially for the senior class.”
The school honored its 10 seniors for their hard work and dedication the past 3-4 years.
“I’ve seen them growing up since freshman year,” Chi said. “They showed a lot of maturity, character and class. I was very proud of the way they conducted themselves on the field.”
Chi was especially proud of his players toward the end of the game when they allowed a Temple City squad that was playing its first and only game of the year to score a touchdown. The score set up an opportunity for Rams coaches to put in a player with special needs, who ran the ball into the end zone for the two-point conversion.

Tigers Beat San Marino on Diamond

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

Photo by Haley Sawyer / The Review
South Pasadena High School baseball coach Jaime Garcia and his staff address the Tigers on Tuesday at San Marino. The Tigers blanked the host Titans, 7-0.

Ivan Becerra made South Pasadena High School’s varsity baseball team last season, but it wasn’t the year he’d hoped for. Between being a freshman and a shortened season due to concerns over COVID-19, Becerra didn’t get the opportunity to make any impact.
But this season, as a sophomore, Becerra is making up for lost time. He stepped up and cracked a two-run homer in the first inning against San Marino on Tuesday afternoon, sparking the offense as the Tigers went on to beat the host Titans, 7-0.
“I was just looking [for a] fastball, immediately,” Bacerra said. “Like, I knew the dude wasn’t throwing that hard, like I can do this like, I’m ready for it. And it just happened and it felt great, to be honest. Like, finally getting a nice hit, especially varsity, too.”

Tigers’ Softball Team in ‘Learning’ Process

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

The South Pasadena High School softball team’s preseason was limited. In addition to struggling to create a physical and emotional team bond due to COVID-19 protocols, the Tigers could only play “friendlies,” hour-long games that anyone on the team can play in.
The friendlies were somewhat helpful, but South Pasadena is finally learning as they get a taste of real competition. Although the Tigers recently lost to San Marino, 6-2, in their second game of the season, the team sees the game as good for them.
“It was just very exciting to get the girls out, get some time, get some real competition and get those long innings, seven long innings,” said coach Ed McCarthy. “It’s so good to play games, and then now it’s something when you go back to practice, you know what to work on.”

Students Return to SPHS Campus

Photo courtesy SPUSD
Students returning to South Pasadena High School for in-person instruction attended an orientation at the school last week.

Students returned to classrooms at South Pasadena High School this week, marking the first time since March 2020 that children have been back at all campuses.
Cohort B returned to SPHS on Thursday this week, a week after students at South Pasadena Middle School began hybrid in-person instruction. Students returned to the South Pasadena Unified School District’s three elementary schools in February.
Appropriately, the SPUSD Board of Education enjoyed its first in-person meeting since the start of the coronavirus pandemic last year.
“It seems like it was just yesterday,” Superintendent Geoff Yantz quipped.

‘Hero Pay’ on City Council’s Agenda

By Haley Sawyer
South Pasadena Review

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues throughout Southern California and the world, the South Pasadena City Council is considering premium pay — or “hero pay” — for grocery store employees in town.
A presentation from the city at the council’s April 7 meeting noted that retailers have seen an increase in profits in 2020, while low-wage workers have largely retained their pay rates in spite of facing unprecedented job-related hazards in the past year.
So-called hero pay would be a temporary raise between $3-5 per hour for frontline workers that would last up to 120 days and apply to retail grocery, retail drug stores or large retail that sell groceries and drugs. As written, it would specifically apply to businesses that employ 300 or more people nationwide or have 15 employees in a single store within the city.

Little League Season Brings Some Normalcy to Community

By Austin Green
South Pasadena Review

Photo by Austin Green / The Review
Oliver Nickel (5) swings at a pitch in front of catcher Noah Gutierrez during a South Pasadena Little League game last Saturday.

At the end of Stoney Drive, nestled beyond the pickleball courts and golf holes of Arroyo Seco Golf Course, and below unsuspecting drivers on the nearby Route 110 overpass, stand the three baseball fields that make up the main home field of South Pasadena Little League. This year, like most in recent history, the scenic enclave hosts the upper divisions of a vast, competitive league where hundreds of children compete throughout the spring.
2021, however, is not like most years. SPLL’s ability to resume competition at a near-normal level in March, mere weeks after Los Angeles County released guidelines for the resumption outdoor youth sports and well ahead of several other area little leagues, was the culmination of months of planning and a relentless spirit of optimism from the league’s leadership, starting with SPLL president Alberto Ocon.