A paean to the Pomona Concert Band

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The Thursday night concerts in Ganesha Park by the Pomona Concert Band have been highlighted by me before. But they don’t seem to be as well-known as they should. Mary P. Wallace of La Verne emailed me to make that point.

“They may be the best-kept secret in the valley. It would be a wonderful evening for families in our valley,” Wallace writes. She’s a native of Pomona and has attended the concerts off and on since the 1960s, but has gone consistently the past few years.

To her ears, the Pomona Concert Band is the best community orchestra around. “The reason is that they play wonderful Sousa marches, and other familiar pops music, plus introducing me to new and beautiful music. They are truly a class act, led by Linda Taylor,” Wallace continues.

She and her friend, Jan Van Alstine, have developed a routine, stopping first at the food trucks at the fairgrounds to try something unfamiliar, and then on to neighboring Ganesha Park for the 8 p.m. concerts at the band shell, on White Avenue just north of the 10 Freeway.

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“The park is ‘safe’ and accessible. Just bring a lawn chair,” advises Wallace. She also notes a new feature this year: carvings from the logs of dead trees. There’s a bear rearing up as you approach the band shell, and an eagle perched at the top of a trunk on the rise overlooking the band shell.

As Wallace says, the eagle is “watching over us, enjoying a real piece of Americana.”

I always attend one concert each season and was there last Thursday. (Wallace and Van Alstine saw me and introduced themselves.)

Instrumental music isn’t my thing, candidly, and I’m more of a Glass House person, but the band’s ambition and range is always laudable, from modern symphonic works and showtunes to a classical song by Holst and, yes, a Sousa composition. I like the tradition too, music under the stars at our mini-Hollywood Bowl, something Pomonans have been doing since the late 1940s.

The season’s last Thursday concert is Aug. 25, but there’s a 6 p.m. Aug. 28 concert as well. See the schedule and program notes here. And here is the food truck lineup for this Thursday.

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Column: HUD audit raises roof at Pomona meeting

In the final meeting for six weeks of the Pomona City Council, a HUD audit comes to light that doesn’t look good for Pomona or a council member. But the city says the 2-year-old findings should work out okay. Also, another council member is said to be able to balance bulky objects on his face. It’s never dull in Pomona, as those news items and more make up Wednesday’s column.

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Plaque installed on Pomona College’s first home (in Pomona)

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Pomona College really was once in Pomona rather than Claremont — if only for one semester in 1888. The original campus was a single house on the corner of White Avenue and Mission Boulevard, later moved to a residential neighborhood. (The original site is now a taqueria, with a plaque out front noting its place in history.)

This was all explored in my column in 2012, on the 125th anniversary of the college’s 1887 founding. College president David Oxtoby and I had lunch at Angelo’s, then located the house with the aid of the college’s unofficial historian, Don Pattison. It’s at Phillips and Hamilton boulevards in south Pomona.

Homeowner Maria Barajas welcomed we three strangers inside and was delighted to learn about her home’s history. Ever since she’s been seeking some kind of historic recognition.

Now she has it: a plaque in her front yard courtesy of the college, denoting her house as City Historical Landmark No. 289.

I see from that 2012 column that when we arrived, Oxtoby remarked lightly, “I don’t see a plaque.” That won’t be the case if he returns.

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Sword reveal in Pomona

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A World War I re-enactors group, the Great War Historical Society, lined up Monday prior to the sword unveiling at Pomona’s Garfield Park. Below, Rubio Gonzalez of the Historical Society of Pomona Valley gets the cloth off the sword. And below that, the re-enactors file past the reconstituted statue. Can you say “photo op”? After all, the statue was dedicated in 1923 to those who lost their lives in the Great War.

The bottom portion of the original sword was broken off by 1975, based on a photo in the Pomona Valley Historian publication, and later was stolen completely. A new sword was made nearly a decade ago but has been kept in storage. It was put up Saturday night, covered, lasted until the unveiling (whew), and is due to be removed Tuesday, to return to storage.

And by the way, what we had all thought was a bottle of water that some jokester had placed in the Goddess’ hand was actually a votive candle, which is more fitting for a war memorial than it had seemed.

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