Sunday’s column is about my visit on Friday, Nov. 22, to the monument to President John F. Kennedy outside Fontana City Hall. The photo was taken in front of the planter box along Sierra Avenue.
In a milestone for Fontana, new population statistics show the city has topped 200,000. Wednesday’s column has more, as well as updated stats for our other cities — see how yours compares! — and a few unrelated short items.
James Rodriguez of Fontana spotted the above scene on Foothill Boulevard just west of Bono’s restaurant and orange stand. As you can see more clearly below, the figure is a mannequin, one who seems perpetually on the verge of crossing into traffic. “Whenever I pass it,” Rodriguez says, “I notice everybody, especially the men, do double takes.”
The business is named There is a Difference Auto Body and Glass. Rodriguez took a vehicle in to be painted and found out more. “I asked if the mannequin had a name and was told her name is Lola, and they actually shop for her wardrobe.” He confirmed that by looking up the address on Google street view, where he saw Lola in a red dress.
“By the way I would like to give plug for this shop. They did an excellent job painting my 2008 black Suburban,” Rodriguez adds.
I made a rare drive on Fontana’s Foothill Boulevard one evening recently and noticed these new light poles on the south side of the street for several blocks along the western portion of the city. Snazzy, eh? I couldn’t resist pulling over to snap a photo.
Yes, apparently I am a light pole geek. These may be the most ornate I’ve seen locally.
Amy Colbrunn of Fontana City Hall says the poles cost $5,000 apiece and were installed to improve the aesthetics of the old Route 66, similar to efforts in Rancho Cucamonga and Upland.
And by the way, if any local city has development potential, it’s Fontana. Foothill has surprisingly vast swaths of open land and derelict buildings. So did Rancho Cucamonga, once upon a time…
I didn’t know until my colleague Louis Brewster’s column today in Sports that Hugo Zacchini, “a former Fontana resident, commonly is credited with being the first human cannonball.” The Peruvian native died in 1975. His father, Ildebrando Zacchini, is said to have invented the compressed-air cannon used to propel humans in circus acts.
Well, for what it’s worth, Wikipedia repeats the story. Brewster just passed by my desk and I asked him about it. When he was growing up in Fontana, all the kids knew about Hugo Zacchini, who kept a cannon in his backyard.
I don’t know how this ties in with Emanuel Zacchini Sr., who according to his 1993 New York Times obituary was brought to the U.S. from Italy in 1934 by John Ringling, created a human cannonball act with his brothers (none of whom were named Hugo) and set a record in 1940 by traveling 175 feet at 54 mph. He was subject of the song “The Human Cannonball” by Loudon Wainwright III.
Flyin’ Zacchinis must be as common as zucchinis.
I got a phone call Tuesday about the opening of Fontana Park — that’s its name — from Amy Colbrunn, the assistant to the city manager. City Hall is very excited about the park and, like the library and the theater that opened earlier in the year, they invited me for a tour.
In fact, Mayor Mark Nuaimi had liked my column on the library so much, his entire speech at the ribbon-cutting consisted of reading my column. (Except for a lame joke of mine about how the chimes in the clocktower, which can play 200 songs, ought to include “Louie Louie.”)
An e-mail from Colbrunn followed later Tuesday with a personal message from Nuaimi.
“I invite you to tour Fontana Park prior to our grand opening celebration. I was really hoping you would write another column touting the amazing amenities included in the facility — I need a speech for the grand opening celebration. Hope you have an opportunity to make it out there. We are really proud of our accomplishments.”
Well, a tour of the park was arranged, and a column will appear Friday. At 39 acres, the park is quite impressive, and because of its location — north of the 210 and east of the 15 — and I imagine a lot of Rancho Cucamonga residents will make use of it too.
One detail among many that I had to cut for space is the leaf motif. It can be found indoors in carpet patterns, wall friezes and wallpaper and outdoors on the base of light poles and stamped in the concrete walkways. If you find them all, I wonder if you get a prize?
The gymnasium, at 13,000 square feet, has six basketball backboards and bleachers. It’s Fontana’s first city gymnasium. It still has that “new gym” smell. Which is far preferable to that “old gym” smell.
And there’s an aquatics center, skate and BMX park, playground, dog park, grand fountain, promenade and other features. The community center even has a juice bar.
Will the mayor do a public reading of this column? I tried to ignore that possibility as I wrote, making sure to include as many jabs as possible, including mocking the park’s bland name. If he reads it, I hope he leaves out the lamer jokes.