A friendly wager got two mayors down to the banks of Los Angeles River at the Glendale Narrows last weekend. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Anaheim Mayor Tom Tait, along with more than a hundred residents from both cities, helped beautify a small stretch of the river on a sunny Saturday morning.
During this year's hockey season, instead of making the usual food bet, the two mayors got creative with their wagers with an exchange of community service. Should Anaheim win, Mayor Garcetti -- a jazz pianist -- would have taught music appreciation at Guinn Elementary School in Anaheim. Should Los Angeles garner the Stanley Cup, the two would take up trash bags and pick up the odds and ends that find itself on the Los Angeles River. This year, the Kings prevailed, winning game seven of the series in May.
"We are champions," says Garcetti during his speech," but with that privilege also comes responsibility. Today, we're restoring pride in the Los Angeles River in the same way we're restoring pride in the Los Angeles Kings." Other volunteer cleaners also showed up that weekend, including employees from AEG, Union Bank, the City of Anaheim employees, and participants from Hire L.A.'s Youth program.
Graciously, Mayor Tait acknowledged the Los Angeles win, "Congratulations on winning the Stanley Cup. This is a delightful way to pay off a bet." During Tait's speech, the mayor expressed his surprise at the beauty of the Los Angeles River and indicated that the pioneering work here could also be applied to another river in Orange County, the Santa Ana River.
Tait also touched on some of the similarities of the Los Angeles River and the Santa Ana River. Like our 51-mile river, the Santa Ana River hosted a native population that depended on the waterway for food and nourishment. It was also one of the earliest places where Europeans settled in Orange County. Again, like the Los Angeles River, many residents of Orange County would probably scratch their heads wondering what river they had in their midst, seeing instead a concrete-corseted flood control channel.
Fortunately, the Santa Ana river also has its advocates. Some groups are dedicated to creating an impressive 110-mile paved biking and walking path from the San Bernardino Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. The Santa Ana River is also 85 percent soft-bottomed, allowing for even more wildlife to grow and flourish within the waterway. Tait said, "seeing the energy around the Los Angeles River gives me ideas."
Photos: Carren Jao