Anaheim Hills Review | Issue 2 | Jun-Jul 22

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“News for the Neighborhood”


THE 2ND EDITION:

June / July 2022

Anaheim Hills REVIEW News For The Neighborhood

From the Publisher Thank you for all the positive feedback regarding the first edition of the Anaheim Hills Review! It’s so refreshing to meet and hear from so many terrific folks who have the community’s best interests at heart. With the first edition, we gave you a taste of who we are and our plans for future issues. With this second edition, we continue sharing, including another installment of the informative history of Anaheim Hills. Here at the Anaheim Hills Review, we know well that people are the heart and soul of the community. That’s why we are featuring various community members who make Anaheim Hills unique. This includes two individuals who have dedicated their lives to keeping us safe and comfortable amidst the challenges of an ever-changing world. On pages 4-5, meet Police Chief Jorge Cisneros and Fire Chief Patrick Russell. Our cover subjects, Danny and Erin Williamson, show us that through adversity comes knowledge and growth. In 2017, the Williamson family lost their Anaheim Hills home to fire. They have since rebuilt and now volunteer their time to offer valuable advice on staying safe this fire season (pages 10-11). We also feature businesses and organizations that enhance and invest in the community. This includes the family behind Bandeño Mexican Food and the folks at Dwelling Place Food Pantry (pages 6-7). Additionally, I would like to thank the Anaheim Hills Community Council, the fine advertisers on these pages and Jim Cain, Operations Manager for the AHCC. The AHCC is a 501(c)(3) organization dedicated to the betterment of the Greater Anaheim area.

HISTORY OF THE HILLS

by Stephen J. Faessel & Trevor O’Neil

A Bit More of Dear Neighbors, My City Council colleague, Stephen J. Faessel, is Anaheim’s leading historian. If you have ever purchased one of the four Anaheim books from the Images of America series, he is the author. I asked Steve to help me bring the history of Anaheim Hills to our community in the Review, which will be a three-part series. We also owe a debt of gratitude to Jane Newell, the Heritage Services Manager at the Anaheim Public Library and de facto Anaheim Archivist, for her valuable assistance in this effort. In the April/May edition of the Anaheim Hills Review, Steve brought you Part I, covering Anaheim Hills up to the 1960s. Now, we are pleased to bring you Part II, discussing the history of Anaheim Hills from the 1960s up to the 1990s. Trevor O’Neil Mayor Pro Tem of Anaheim / City Councilmember for District 6 (Anaheim Hills)

Anaheim’s sphere of influence finally crossed the Santa Ana River into the Olive Hills by 1960, when a land swap with the city of Orange permitted Anaheim to build a much needed 60 million gallon reservoir required by the community’s exploding population. This reservoir site, purchased from rancher Louis Nohl, would cement Anaheim’s stake in the future development of the Nohl Ranch area, a 4,300-acre development that would begin in 1970. As north Orange County development began to explode in the 1960s, the value of the Nohl

family’s grazing lands diminished compared to the immediate cash value for future home sites. By the late 1960s, the Nohl family had already begun to sell small parcels of property for development by the cities of Orange and Anaheim. Anaheim, again seeking more water storage, dedicated a 920million gallon reservoir and filtration plant in the Nohl Ranch hills in April 1970. Finally, on October 30, 1970, 4,200 acres of the Nohl Ranch were deeded to Santa Anita Consolidated, Inc., with the intent to create a new planned community named Anaheim Hills.

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Photo courtesy of the Anaheim Public Library

Our History

Mayor John Seymour overlooking the Anaheim Hills area, including the future site of the Anaheim Hills golf course, taken in the early 1970s.

A joint venture created by Texaco Ventures, Inc. and the Anaheim Hills, Inc. was deeded the property for residential development purposes by August 1971. The general plan for developing Anaheim Hills called for constructing some of the finest homes in Orange County. The

first neighborhood opened was Westridge in July 1972, selling out all 325 homes by early 1975. In 1973, two public high schools opened in Anaheim Hills: Canyon in the Orange Unified School District and Esperanza in the Placentia-Yorba Linda Unified School District.

The City of Anaheim soon purchased 300 additional acres of the Nohl Ranch for a tournamentclass golf course and park sites. The City opened Pelanconi Park in 1975 and Oak Park and Peralta Canyon Park, both in 1977. The County opened Yorba Regional Park in 1976, which today sits adjacent to the City’s similarlynamed Yorba Park. Residential development continued to grow as new neighborhoods were constructed by a variety of quality developers. Architectural integrity and landscape maintenance became the responsibilities of the Anaheim Hills Planned Community Association, a homeowners association that has oversight of these decisions. By the early 1980s, the population of this Anaheim community had grown to more than 15,000 residents. City government expanded its services in the 1980s to accommodate this growing population. The Anaheim Public Library

Up next time: Part III will cover the history of Anaheim Hills from the 1990s to the present.

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opened its Canyon Hills branch on July 13, 1981. The Anaheim Fire Department opened new fire stations on Riverdale Avenue in 1981 and Monte Vista Road in 1986. The City opened four more parks in Anaheim Hills: Eucalyptus in 1981, Riverdale in 1982, Wetlands in 1986 and Imperial in 1989. The expansion of these affluent neighborhoods continued with Anaheim annexing the Bauer, Oak Hills and Wallace ranches for development in the mid-1980s, adding another 1,300acres to the city. The developers of these neighborhoods were dedicated to preserving the natural environment of the ranch as much as possible during residential development. Long-standing groves of sycamore, oak, eucalyptus and other indigenous trees were bypassed during construction. By the early 1990s, nearly 1,000 acres of land were already dedicated to public agencies to ensure an atmosphere of natural beauty in Anaheim Hills.

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KNOW THE NEIGHBORS by Yuki Klotz-Burwell

Protecting Our Community With a city as complex and diverse as Anaheim, it takes determined, responsible leaders to protect the community and its neighbors. Featured here are Anaheim Chief of Police Jorge Cisneros and Anaheim Fire Chief Patrick Russell, each sharing their path to leadership and their future goals for the city.

/ PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA

Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros has worked in law enforcement for more than 30 years, but he originally entered the workforce as an architectural designer for a private firm in Newport Beach. “I previously worked with police officers during a part-time college job, and I started to realize the connection between architecture and law enforcement,” he says. “The goal for both is to create an environment where people succeed, and I took those concepts and applied it to policing.” Cisneros quickly pivoted and entered the academy before joining his hometown station of Long Beach, where he worked for 20 years. He has worked his way through departments across Orange County, including the City of Huntington Park and UC Irvine’s police department, before settling into his role as Anaheim’s Chief of Police for the past four years. True to his background in architectural design, the police chief’s main focus is continuing to build a vision for the city that ensures everyone feels safe, protected and organized. “To me, being a true leader means caring about your environment and creating a vision that makes sense for your community,” says Cisneros. “Every day, I wake up with a smile because I get to provide the equipment, tools and training necessary to make that vision a reality.” One vision Cisneros is proud to have accomplished is ensuring all officers have at least 100 hours

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Police Chief Jorge Cisneros

of training under their belts. “If we’re going to serve our community, we need to enhance our training and make sure our officers are prepared for every situation,” he says. “This builds a sense of trust with everyone in the city, and it happens by the competence and character our officers and employees have.” Cisneros also takes time to discover new ways for Anaheim to incorporate modern technology into its safety plans. The Anaheim Police Department will be the first police organization in Orange County to deploy drones as first

Anaheim Police Chief Jorge Cisneros has worked to modernize the department. One of his recent endeavors is leading the Community Care Response Team, which uses clinicians and unarmed response teams to address emergency calls relating to homelessness or mental health issues.

responders, allowing officers to get real time information from critical incidents as they occur. “Chief Cisneros is forwardthinking and looks for any opportunity to elevate the Anaheim Police Department to the next level,” says Sergeant Jacob Gallacher. “The safety and security of those who live, work and play in Anaheim is his top priority.” During more than three decades of law enforcement, one

moment stands out to Cisneros as life-changing and unforgettable. In 1997, he rescued a young girl who had been kidnapped and held for ransom. “Sixteen years later, that girl reached out to me and told me she has decided to start a career in law enforcement because of that life-saving experience,” says Cisneros. “That hit home. I never thought I’d be able to impact someone in that way.”

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Fire Chief Patrick Russell stands with his fire helmet at the North Net Fire Training Center. When he’s not managing the department of more than 250 Anaheim Fire & Rescue employees, Russell spends time with his family and acts as an umpire for local baseball games.

/ PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA

Anaheim Fire & Rescue Chief Patrick Russell was born and raised in Montana, but for the past 32 years, he’s made the department his home. Russell went to school in Reno and got his start in the industry after joining a local fire crew with his roommates, and never looked back. “I immediately got the bug and realized the teamwork, challenges and excitement were perfect for me,” he says. “It’s something you either love or hate, and I loved it.” Since then, he has continued to uphold Anaheim’s stellar reputation, working his way through the department first as a firefighter and paramedic before taking on the roles of deputy chief and interim chief, and for the past three years, Fire Chief of Anaheim Fire & Rescue. “I’m very proud of our department and everyone who works to protect our city,” says Russell. “Anaheim is a complex city with urban wildland and densely populated areas, and that takes welltrained and motivated people to handle those challenges.” For Russell, the complexities of his job, coupled with its dynamic nature, inspire him to come to work excited and motivated each day. “Every day of my job is completely different, and I never know

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Fire Chief Patrick Russell

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what will unfold that day,” he says. “It could start with a routine call and then quickly shift to a structure fire or a physical rescue, and the unknown is a very attractive part of the job.” Across the department, Russell is known for his caring demeanor and commitment to his team. “From the beginning, I’ve seen how Chief Russell completely demonstrates the values of Anaheim Fire & Rescue,” says Battalion Chief Nick Colonelli, who has worked with Russell for more than 20 years. “He’s the kind of leader you want to be around and naturally follow.” Russell is also known to go above and beyond for his department, including visiting all of Anaheim’s fire stations on holidays to drop off food and connect with his staff. “This is the kind of job where you’ll miss birthdays and holidays, but Chief Russell leads by example and takes the time to thank everyone for their contributions,” says Colonelli. “He’s emotionally invested in the wellbeing of the organization and the greater community.” Just as Russell had said, no two days on the job are alike. Currently, the department is busy preparing to expand the in-house ambulance program. This program will serve the Anaheim community, further strengthening and unifying the department.

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NEW TO THE NEIGHBORHOOD by Yuki Klotz-Burwell

Enjoy Local Business This summer, the opportunity to support and celebrate local businesses is stronger than ever. The two businesses highlighted here, Bandeño Mexican Food and Dwelling Place Food Pantry, provide nourishment to the community in different ways, but are both new to the neighborhood and sure to become pillars in Anaheim.

/ PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA

Small businesses make up the heart of the Anaheim Hills business community, and one recently opened family business, Bandeño Mexican Food, hopes to encourage local neighbors to stop in and treat themselves to original Mexican cuisine. “We love the neighborhood, and when we were looking for locations, we noticed there weren’t any other Mexican restaurants nearby,” says Business Partner Victor Gonzalez, who co-owns the restaurant with his wife, Adriana Alvarez, and her family, including his sister-in-law Paola Alvarez and brother-in-law Omar Alvarez. “We are a family restaurant run by family and are excited to share our authentic dishes with our neighbors.” Bandeño serves fresh, madeto-order Mexican food all day long, offering customers a chance to start the day with a carne asada breakfast burrito or finish strong with a fajitas plate. One of the restaurant’s specialties is a shrimp diablo dish, a spicy entree with sides of fan-favorite beans and rice. And if you’re in the mood for a weekly special, Victor says the Taco Tuesday deal of $2.50 tacos is another popular hit that keeps diners coming back. After initially opening in late 2019, the eatery has bounced back from pandemic shutdowns and is grateful for the supportive Anaheim Hills residents who continued to root for small businesses. “When the pandemic hit, we had many people come in and tell us they specifically wanted to support our local business,” says Omar. “That means a lot to us, and we kept going for them.” “We had so many dreams as a family and opening up our own restaurant was top of the list,” adds Adriana. “We invested everything we had into this restaurant, and now that we’ve met our amazing customers, it’s been perfect.”

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Bandeño Mexican Food

As the year reaches its halfway point, the Bandeño team is starting to set goals to carry the restaurant through 2022 and into 2023. Top of mind for them is getting a beer and liquor license, which they hope will elevate the menu and its offerings. Next is a remodel of the physical space. Although the restaurant has a vast menu filled with popular and niche Mexican dishes, the interior doesn’t hold space for as many customers as they’d like to bring in. Finally, the hope is to expand beyond Anaheim Hills into an additional location in Orange County and introduce new customers to Bandeño homemade Mexican food. “We’re so thankful for the locals who support us and our restaurant dreams,” says Omar. “One of our goals is to open another location, and their continued support would help us get there and serve more customers.”

Restaurant Co-Owners (from left) Omar Alvarez, Paola Alvarez and Adriana Alvarez pose with their mother Guadalupe Rosas, father Felipe Alvarez and brother Jonathan Alvarez, with fellow Co-Owner Victor Gonzalez in front. The family is excited to bring their authentic Mexican cuisine to Anaheim and enjoy sharing with the community flavorful dishes, like their spicy shrimp burrito.

Bandeño Mexican Food 466 South Anaheim Hills Rd. 714-363-3889 / www.Bandeno.com 6

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/ PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA

Since the pandemic began, levels of food insecurity in Orange County have risen dramatically, and the Dwelling Place Food Pantry is now open in Anaheim to support the community. The pantry, which Anaheim’s Dwelling Place church runs, looks a bit different from traditional food pantries. The facility is set up like a grocery store, complete with aisles filled with artisan offerings, volunteer clerks and shopping carts. “When the pandemic began, the need for food in the area skyrocketed,” says Lambert Lo, who runs the pantry and is known as Dwelling Place’s Compassion Catalyst. “We put our focus into creating a dignified pantry experience that looks, feels

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Dwelling Place Food Pantry

The Dwelling Place Food Pantry team (from left) Glenda Houser, Lambert Lo, Rafael Araujo, Lori McIlroy and Matthew Luo demonstrate grocery items available at their new food pantry. The team takes care to provide staples that make an impact on every family who uses the services. Visitors get to develop their own grocery lists.

and functions like a high-end grocery store.” The church has operated food distribution services for more than 40 years but recently updated its operations during the pandemic and managed 11 mobile food pantries throughout five Orange County cities. The pantry on La Palma Ave. is the congregation’s first store-style location and officially opened this April. The Dwelling Place team also aims to provide resources beyond just food and works with the community to offer essential services like on-site medical care and job placement through the City of Anaheim’s employment center. “We have thousands of people who come through our doors, and they each have an opportunity to sit with someone to tell their story,” says Lo. “We work with them individually to find out what the core issues are and connect them to available onsite resources.” Catherine Meade is one neighbor who uses Dwelling Place services and believes it’s unlike any other food pantry.

“You are shown love the moment you enter, whether it’s your first time visiting or you’ve been part of their community for decades,” she says. “The people there want to see the community thriving.” Meade also shared her story with the volunteers and discovered their willingness to support the community outside of providing groceries. “My husband got a wonderful carpentry job through a contact at the Dwelling Place, and if I express a household need, the people there are so generous and go above and beyond to make sure our family of four will be okay,” she says. While Lo’s ultimate goal is to eliminate hunger in Orange County, his first step for 2022 is to partner with local school districts to offer food distribution services. “If our students lack a healthy and whole nutrition, they aren’t able to focus in school,” says Lo. “We need to make sure our students have the food they need to succeed.”

Dwelling Place Food Pantry 5340 East La Palma Ave. / www.VAFoodPantry.com w w w. A n a h e i m H i l l s C o m m u n i t y C o u n c i l . o r g

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COVER STORY

by George Paul

Getting Out Photo courtesy of The Orange County Register.

A firefighter tends to the Williamson family home during the Canyon 2 Fire in 2017.

Wildfire preparation has always been vitally important in Southern California, but now, in the midst of another drought, the need for homeowners to maintain proper fire insurance is greater than ever. Danny and Erin Williamson are longtime Anaheim Hills residents who lost their house during the Canyon 2 Fire in October 2017. Although their policy exceeded the recommended coverage, it still wasn’t enough. “We are constantly educating our clients about the need for adequate fire insurance,” says Danny Williamson, who along with his wife, Erin, have been residential Real Estate agents for more than 30 years and currently work with First Team Real Estate. “Many companies have dropped their policies in California because of the fires,” says Danny. That’s why the couple inform customers on “best policies and the need for additional insurance.”

The coverage the Williamsons had was beneficial and they were able to build a dream home, yet “we were still a couple $100,000 off. It had to come out of pocket,” Erin says. She pointed out four different categories to insure— the structure, personal belongings, out structure and code upgrades. When the Canyon 2 Fire happened, Erin returned home after a hike and received a friend’s text about a nearby fire. She didn’t see or smell anything but heard a loud popping sound and witnessed a helicopter refilling water from the reservoir. Upon walking outside, “I saw this giant ball of fire basically coming right at me.” Erin called her husband, grabbed their dogs and left. Danny, already on the way there, managed to retrieve some wall photos. “The neighborhood at that time was consumed by fire and smoke,” says Erin.

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Safely Three fire prevention tips from Erin Williamson: 1. Be proactive. If it’s windy, bring any seat cushions inside. “Don’t give a fire an opportunity to attach to something.” 2. Don’t keep firewood on the side of your house. 3. Make a list of important documents. Keep them in a safe place and in a separate location. “We lost our computers, passports, birth certificates.”

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She went to pick up her three sons from school. Scores of people sent messages offering their apologies because the Williamsons’ house was prominently being consumed on the TV news. To lessen the impact of the impending loss, she told her kids they would be getting new computers, a new home and a pool. “Thankfully, nobody was hurt. That’s really all that matters,” says Erin. “Stuff is replaceable. We all got out safely. My boys were taught a huge life lesson that I could have never provided them if this didn’t happen.”

Erin authored a book touching upon the experience: It’s Just Stuff: Overcoming Obstacles in Sales, Real Estate and Life, published in 2019. A portion of proceeds assist fire survivors. “I wrote it to inspire people to change their perspective and realize every setback is an opportunity,” she says. To encourage awareness, the Williamsons have hosted fire insurance seminars. Erin also contacted mayors around Northern California impacted by the Tubbs Fire (it raged the same month as Canyon 2) and held a town hall meeting. “I’ve gone many places to speak to people as to what they need to do and how to handle insurance once it happens,” says Erin. “The insurance process is rigorous. The insurance company wants to give you a portion of what your policy says” and resists giving you what you’re insured for. “The insurance company’s job is to get you to settle. Most people make that big mistake.” Danny’s parents “built one of the first homes in the neighborhood where we live now,” he says. “We were fortunate enough to buy our home in the same neighborhood in which I grew up, in 2006. “It was a home we had always wanted to live in,” he says. “Even after the fire, we decided to rebuild in the same place. It is where we call home. We couldn't imagine raising our kids anywhere else.”

Today, Danny and Erin Williamson are content in the backyard of their dream home.

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IN THE GARDEN

by Brian Hale

/ PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA

Welcome to the first Master Gardener column aimed at helping you grow fresh food right in your own yard. Whether you have a garden directly in the soil, raised beds, a small yard with limited space, containers or just landscape, there is a way to grow your own food. My intention in these articles is to provide timely advice focused on when to plant, prune and maintain your garden. This way you’ll plant the right plants at the right time. This is very important, as many fruits and vegetables are sensitive to day length and temperature. Thanks to our great SoCal weather, we can grow produce year-round here. Starting the right plants at the right times makes all the difference in how healthy and productive your crops will be.

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Gardening 101

Master Gardener Brian Hale surveying the growth in his Anaheim Hills garden.

If you have an existing garden, make sure after you harvest to add compost on a regular basis and feed your plants monthly. As a simple reminder, I fertilize the first week of every month. If you are starting a new garden or planting in containers, keep the following basics in mind. Fruits and vegetables require an absolute minimum of 6 to 7 hours of full sun daily, so choosing the right location is a priority. The right soil is very important. The best way to start for raised beds or containers is to use a 70 percent peat moss and 30 percent perlite mix. Perlite is a mined volcanic glass and when exposed to high temperatures, it expands. It is the white stuff in potting soil. Such potting mixes are sold in big box stores, local nurseries and farm supply stores. As both peat moss and perlite are sold separately, you can also mix your own soil. To compensate for the low

Brian Hale is an Anaheim Hills resident and has been a University of California Cooperative Extension Master Gardener in Orange County since 1999. Over the years, he has been involved with many aspects of the Master Gardener program. Currently, he spends most of his time with the Propagation Team and is a member of the Speakers Bureau. This includes doing presentations for private and public venues.

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pH of peat moss, a small amount of dolomite or other alkaline type product should be added to the mix to create the ideal pH of 6.4 to 7.4. Finally, access to water should also be considered. That means some type of dedicated water to your garden. Trying to use only a garden hose seems like a good idea, but it can become a chore. However, a true gardener will make it work. Follow the basics, and with a little trial and error, you’ll be growing healthy, clean food at home in no time. For help with any garden, landscape or pest problems, contact our Master Gardener hotline at UCCEOCMGhotline@ucanr.edu and check out our website at www.MGOrange.ucanr.edu for scientifically rehearsed, peerreviewed information. It is a great tool for gardeners at any level. Now go get gardening!

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TALK OF THE HILLS

by Julie Bawden-Davis

PHOTOS PROVIDED COURTESY OF JOHN LUCIANO

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Celebrating America in our Beautiful City! If you’re looking for a funfilled day to celebrate our nation’s independence, consider attending this year’s Anaheim Hills 4th of July Celebration. In its 33rd year, the day-long event has something for just about everyone. “The celebration starts with the Firecracker 5K/10K Run at 7 am,” says Jim Cain, Operations Manager for the Anaheim Hills Community Council, which has run the event for the last decade. “The race starts at Santa Ana Canyon Road and attracted more than 1,000 runners last year,” he says. Winners and rankings are divided into different age groups. The race is followed by a pancake breakfast served at the Canyon High School field. Soon

after at 9 am, eventgoers can enjoy the ever-popular Yankee Doodle Dog Show. “The Yankee Doodle Dog Show is one of the most popular events of the day,” says Lisa Lewis, Chairperson for the event.

Anaheim Hills 4th of July Celebration “The dog show reflects the very best of our community and offers a chance for eventgoers to show off their furry family members. It is so much fun to see the dogs dressed up for the day, and kids just love having an event that they can participate in.” The dog show keeps growing,

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notes Lewis, whose 10-year-old Great Pyrenees, Edelweiss, is always a crowd favorite. “Last year, we had almost 50 dogs entered in the event,” she says. The fun continues with the annual Patriotic Parade at 1 pm. “This year the parade’s theme is Saluting the Troops,” says Amelia Castro, Chairperson for the 4th of July Parade. The parade contains floats from various local organizations and businesses. “Last year, we had the most floats ever, with 91 participants,” says Castro, who has worked to make the event bigger and better every year since she began managing it seven years ago. “It’s an exciting parade with a small town feel that really brings the

community together. I enjoy the event because it’s a favorite of children. It’s so rewarding to see their happy faces light up at the various floats, such as Disney characters and our patriotic Santa Claus.” Veteran Air is a sponsor and the Grand Marshal of the parade, which starts at Canyon High School, headed off by participants marching with American flags and the local Girl Scouts walking with the parade banner. The procession heads north on Imperial Highway before turning right on Santa Ana Canyon Road and eventually ends at Quintana Road. At Peralta Park, merchandise booths are open at 10 am and food booths start serving at 3 pm. There’s also live entertainment featuring area musicians and bands, and a chance to pay respects to local fallen heroes. Look for their memorial near the vendor booths. The night culminates with a spectacular fireworks show at 9 pm. For more information and to register for the race, dog show and parade, visit www.AnaheimHills CommunityCouncil.org.

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TALK OF THE HILLS

by Julie Bawden-Davis

Canyon High School

Aviation

You know in the movies when they hop on a private jet and fly to Paris for dinner? That’s similar to what Amelia and Aris Castro and their dog, Halo, do on a regular basis. Not fly off to Paris, but the mother and son, who both have their pilot’s licenses, often take off in their plane on Saturday mornings to get breakfast.

/ PHOTO BY KRISTIN SMETONA

“I’ll fly there and Aris will fly back,” says Amelia. “We’ll go to a variety of airports where we enjoy the food, like Camarillo, Catalina, Big Bear and Hemet. Halo has her own seat and has flown with us since she was a puppy.” Amelia, whose father, Rogelio Lopez, is also a pilot, got her license when she was 18. Aris followed in their footsteps, earning his license in October 2021 at 17. The Castros credit the Canyon High School Aviation Program for igniting Aris’s interest in flying. “You have to love aviation in order to become a pilot,” says Amelia. “Aris has been around aviation his whole life, but it wasn’t until he took a course his sophomore year at Canyon that he realized he loved flying and wanted to get his license.” Canyon’s Aviation program, which includes ground school and simulator exercises, teaches students flight training techniques and hands-on aviation learning. In Aviation II, students learn skills such as radio communications, FAA regulations and navigation. When the course finishes, they are eligible to take the FAA written exam required for a private pilot’s license. Steve Smith is an InstrumentCommercial Pilot and Aviation Instructor of Canyon’s Aviation

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PHOTO PROVIDED COURTESY OF AMELIA CASTRO

program. He founded the program after working as a math teacher at the school following a career as a commercial pilot. “I thought an aviation class could be well received as an elective,” says Smith. The program quickly grew into four classes. In addition to levels I and II, students can take Career Focus Aviation and a professional internship. “The program became bigger than I envisioned,” says Smith, who stopped teaching math to run the three-year program fulltime. “Students take the courses for various reasons. Some are hardcore aviation enthusiasts, while others find it an interesting elective. There’s a cool factor to aviation. When other students hear a student has a pilot’s license, they’re often impressed.”

The program at Canyon is an excellent one, believes Amelia. “It’s such a great opportunity for kids to spark their interest in flying,” she says. “Mr. Smith loves aviation, and he does a great job of getting kids into it. Without the program, I don’t think Aris would have gotten his license.” Aris agrees. “I wasn’t interested in getting a license, but then something clicked after I took the class. I’ve decided to pursue a career as a commercial pilot. I like how flying gives you a feeling of limitlessness.”

The Canyon High School Aviation program is open to students who attend the school. They welcome guest speakers in the aviation field and the opportunity for students to tour aviation facilities. Information: www.CanyonHighSchool.org/academics/programs-pathways/aviation 14

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