Christmas Trees Sell Out Quickly This Season

posted: December 17th, 2014 05:19 am | 0No Comments

Corona del Mar resident Jennifer Cooper couldn’t believe her eyes when she and her family made their traditional trip to the Gallo’s Christmas tree lot on Sunday.

“We all piled in the car, and the lot was fenced with all the trees piled up behind it,” she said. “I was completely shocked. We’d been just going to Gallo’s every year. It’s our tradition.”

The family went to a tree lot at the Dunes Waterfront Resort, but the trees there were too tall, Cooper said. Finally, they found a tree at Armstrong Garden Center in Newport Beach.

“They literally had six trees left,” she said. “They’d been picked through. At some lots, the trees were horrendous, like misfit toys. It was really weird. You hear about this kind of thing two days before Christmas, but I didn’t think we were that late.”

The Christmas Tree shortage of 2014 surprised other CdM residents as well, who described going to Huntington Beach for trees, or opting for a different variety than usual because selections were so limited.

The Gallo’s lot opened just after Thanksgiving and closed on Dec. 12, said Bridget Morahan, who works at the adjacent deli.

“They sold out so fast,” she said. “There are some small trees left, but that’s all we have.”

To buy one, she said, you need to pick one out from the lot and pay at the deli. The leftover trees are $10 each.

Roger’s Gardens still has about 50 trees left, said nursery manager Rex Yarwood, including a few 6 foot firs at $69.99 each.

Yarwood said he ordered 25 percent more trees this year than last, and they arrived Nov. 19 and immediately began to sell.

“It was a very brisk season, and it started early,” he said. “They moved a lot faster this year.”

Most trees sold the weekend after Thanksgiving weekend, he said.

“We received two full semi trucks full of trees,” he said.

Roger’s Gardens trees come from a family farm in Washington state, he said, where they were unaffected by California’s drought. He said there wasn’t a real tree shortage, but there are fewer tree lots in the area than in other years, and he’d heard reports that some big lot stores’ inventory of trees were worse this year than other years.

“We have about 50 left,” he said. “And that’s kind of where we want to be. We quickly turn around, and at this point next week, we’re receiving roses and have to make room for them.”

Ron Vanderhoff, general manager and vice president at Roger’s Gardens, said Christmas tree sales were up by double digits this year, and that trees were the “best quality we have seen in years.”

“One caveat that was challenging this year had to do with trucking and transportation,” he said in an email. “There was a serious shortage of trucks hauling trees southward. Many local lots and retailers may have had a difficult time getting trees for that reason, or at least on the dates when they wanted them. Again, Roger’s Gardens did not have this problem, but we were very aware of the issue.”


CdM Couple Wins “Best Overall” in Boat Parade’s Ring of Lights Contest

posted: December 16th, 2014 06:00 pm | 0No Comments

The annual Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade wouldn’t be the same if homes lining the parade route weren’t as decked out as the boats in the actual parade, and organizers of the Ring of Lights competition that honors those decorated homes have announced the winners, including a Corona del Mar couple that won the “Best Overall” category.

“Some of the homes spend thousands of dollars to compete in this annual tradition, and after much deliberation, the winners have been chosen,” according to an email announcement.

The 2014 Christmas Ring of Lights Winners include the Sweepstakes Best Overall winner, Viviana and Bruce Fabrizio, who live at 1407 Bayside Drive.

Robert and Christyne Olson of 351 E. Bay Front on Balboa Island won first place in the Lights and Animation category, and Jim and Vicki Warmington of 328 Buena Vista Blvd. on the Peninsula won second place in that category.

Bill and Gay Wassall-Kelly of 409 E. Edgewater on the Peninsula won the In the Best Theme category, and the Chairman’s Choice award went to Barry and Karen Meguiar of 201 N. Bay Front on Balboa Island.

John and Essie Bootsma of 128 Via Lido Nord on Lido Isle won the Best Traditional Lights category, and Scott and Shawn Cunningham of One Beacon Bay won the Green Entry Award. The Photographer’s Choice winner was Dave McIntyre of 101 Via Lido Soud on Lido Isle, and Marcy Cook of 538 S. Bay Front on Balboa Island wan the Humor and Originality award.

The Rookie Award went to Robert “RC” and Beverly Cohen of 2686 Bayshore Drive, and the Best On Lido award went to Ken and Tracy Hurd of 832 Via Lido Nord on Lido Island. The Founder’s Award went to Phil and Mary Lyons of 36 Harbor Island on Harbor Island, and the Daily Pilot award went to Dennis and Patty Vitarelli of 140 S. Bay Front on Balboa Island.

The Bahia Corinthian Yacht Club on Bayside Drive won the Best Yacht Club award, and the Hi Tech Christmas Charm award wen to Jim and Peggy Rich of 802 S. Bay Front on Balboa Island.

The Best On Peninsula award went to Bob and Carol Senour of 1000 E. Balboa Blvd. The first-place Judge’s Award went to Donna Dibari of 710 South Bay Front on Balboa Island, and the second-place award went to Shirley Pepys of 526 S. Bay Front, also on Balboa Island.

The boat parade begins Wednesday and runs through Sunday; read our earlier story here.

Photo courtesy of Bleu Cotton Photography.


CdM Sunset, 12/16/2014

posted: December 16th, 2014 04:51 pm | 0No Comments


Happy Chanukah, CdM!

posted: December 16th, 2014 12:36 pm | 0No Comments

Chanukah begins tonight at sundown, and Corona del Mar’s median at East Coast Highway and Marguerite Avenue now features a menorah that will be lighted each night for eight days to celebrate.

There also will be a menorah lighting event at Fashion Island, sponsored by the Newport Beach Chabad Jewish Center, according to the organization’s website.

The lighting will take place at 6 p.m. in the Atrium Garden Court near Barnes & Noble, according to an event flier. Eight-time Olympic medalist Jason Leak, a swimmer, will light the “giant friendship menorah,” which was handprinted by children with special needs, the flier said. The event will include dreidels, donuts, balloon animals, face painting, crafts, gifts and treats for kids and Chanukah entertainment. You also can bring an unwrapped gift for a community toy drive.

For more information, click here or call (949) 721-9800.


From the Police Log: Theft Reports, Alcohol-Related Arrest

posted: December 16th, 2014 12:19 pm | 0No Comments

Newport Beach police took a report of a petty theft from a motor vehicle on Monday in the 2000 block of Ocean Boulevard.

The theft, with a $350 loss, occurred between 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 9:30 a.m. Monday, the report said.

Officers also took a report of a theft in the 3100 block of Ocean Boulevard on Monday. The theft, with a $1,295 loss, occurred between 2:15 and 2:33 p.m. Sunday.

Police arrested a 42-year-old Westerville man at 12:56 p.m. Monday in the 400 block of Marguerite Avenue on suspicion of disorderly conduct while intoxicated. His bail was $500.

The same man was arrested on suspicion of the same charge three times in three days earlier this month; read our story here.

Police also arrested a 22-year-old Santa Ana man at 10:59 a.m. Monday at Seaview and Poppy avenues on a misdemeanor warrant; his bail was $2,500.

Police released details about a burglary that was reported Saturday in the 2900 block of East Coast Highway. The incident occurred about 3:40 p.m. on Nov. 22, said department spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella.

“At that time, a female suspect entered the business and purchased $12,000 worth of merchandise using a fraudulent credit card,” Manzella said.


CdM Woman Makes a “Shark Tank” Deal With Holiday Stamp Kit Business

posted: December 16th, 2014 05:00 am | 1Comment

A Corona del Mar woman who created a kit to help kids believe in holiday magic appeared — and conquered — on Friday night’s episode of “Shark Tank.”

Trina Barkouras appeared on the ABC reality show to pitch her Hoppy Paws business, which sells kits to let parents create footprints of reindeer, elves, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy and other magical holiday creatures.

“I decided I wanted my kids’ holidays to be extra special,” Barkouras told the judges during the episode. “Because my childhood was so difficult, I wanted to do everything I can to make my kids feel loved.”

The idea for Hoppy Paws, she said, came to her about 20 years ago when she decided to make Easter Bunny paw prints on the ground, leading her daughters to their Easter baskets. A few neighbors asked how she did it, but the idea didn’t become a business plan until last June, when she decided to go to an open audition for the show in San Diego.

“Shark Tank,” which won an Emmy this year, features a panel of successful “sharks” who listen to pitches, then decide whether to invest.

Barkouras, who lives in the Flower Streets, said she waited for five hours before she was given 60 seconds with a producer to make her audition pitch.

“They whittle down and whittle down and whittle down,” she said.

Ultimately, she was selected to appear on the show.

She decided to wear her most glamorous dress, a floor-length brown gown by Carolina Herrera, along with reindeer antlers. Then she told the judges about her product in verse, playing on “The Night Before Christmas.” Ultimately, she asked for $50,000 in exchange for a 10 percent stake in the Hoppy Paws business.

The product, she said, includes a white powder that you mix with water, along with stamps that create the footprints. The prints can be vacuumed off carpeting, she said. She declined to say what the powder was made of.

The sharks asked about sales, and Barkouras told them that she had developed the idea in just 90 days, and had picked up the first of the products only the day before. She had spent $105,000 of her own money so far, she told them, including an Air Stream camper that she will use at trade shows.

“You are a machine,” said shark Mark Cuban. “You are not allowed to call yourself Trina anymore…I have re-christened you The Beast. You are a beast, and I love it. And I wish my sales people were as focused and as driven and as excited.”

“I’m a go-getter,” she said.

Another shark said he was impressed at how much she’d accomplished in 90 days, but he said he didn’t think his own children would be excited by powder footprints.

“They’d say, ‘Daddy, why is the carpet dirty?’” Robert Herjavec said. “My opinion is kids aren’t going to like it.”

He, Cuban and another shark said they’d offer $5,000 each.

“I am willing to do this because I think I should have a woman with horns in my portfolio,” shark Kevin O’Leary said. “There’s no question about it.”

But in the end, shark Barbara Corcoran took over.

“I have my entire life done exactly what you are doing for my kids,” she said, describing how she also had created footprints to make it seem as though Santa had really been in their home.

“They followed the tracks, they can’t believe it,” she said. “It’s like proof that Santa Claus exists. I totally know this thing works, and you’ve done it so much better.”

She then offered $100,000 for a 50 percent stake in the company.

In the end, Barkouras agreed to a deal for $100,000, with her keeping 51 percent of the company. Future ideas she develops would be shared equally, the women agreed.

“You’re a little machine of ideas,” Corcoran said.

In an interview, Barkouras said she was thrilled to have Corcoran as her partner.

“She’s a go-getter,” she said.

The product has been selling well though the Hoppy Paws website, she said.

“The orders keep coming in,” she said. “We’re here right now in the warehouse fulfilling orders, making sure everyone gets their Hoppy Paws before Christmas.”

The sets sell for $6.99. With the Shark Tank funding, she said on the show, she hoped to be able to get the manufacturing price down from $2 to about $1.

Ultimately, she said, she plans to create plush toys, coloring books, storybooks and more around each character whose footsteps are represented in each kit.

“We’re trying to keep the magic alive,” she said, adding that the website has an area for kids so they don’t learn too much about the product and how it works.

The show began with images of Barkouras and her daughters playing on Big Corona State Beach, tossing a frisbee and drawing a heart in the sand. But actually facing the shark panel was stressful, she said.

“It’s a lot of pressure,” she said. “You were in the tank for an extended period. It was sort of an out of body experience. It’s very nerve-wracking. What you have to do is you have to keep your composure. You have to get your points across.”

To see the episode, click here.


From the Police Log: Small Fire on Iris Ave., Car Burglaries in Newport Coast

posted: December 15th, 2014 02:15 pm | 0No Comments

A small fire, started by a kitchen appliance, was quickly extinguished at 1:47 p.m. Sunday in the 400 block of Iris Avenue, police said. No injuries were reported.

Police also took reports of six burglaries from vehicles on Saturday in the 23000 block of Newport Coast Drive, all which appear to be related with smashed windows, police said. The burglaries all were reported between 6:08 a.m. and 9:38 a.m. Saturday, all all appear to have occurred after about 10 p.m. Friday, reports said. In one incident, a camera was stolen, with the loss reported at $400. In another report, a purse was stolen with a loss of $50, and in another, golf clubs valued at $2,000 were stolen. In two cases, there was no reported loss although windows were damaged.

Police also too a report of a burglary in the 2900 block of East Coast Highway at 8:39 a.m. Saturday, online logs state, but no additional information was immediately available.

Officers arrested a 57-year-old Venice man at 3:34 p.m. Friday in the 600 block of Newport Center Drive on suspicion of DUI with a prior DUI conviction; bail was $10,000. Police arrested a 35-year-old Texas woman at 7:13 p.m. Sunday in the 400 block of Newport Center Drive on suspicion of obstructing an officer; her bail was $500. Police also arrested a 46-year-old San Clemente man at 1:05 p.m. Saturday at Narcissus Avenue and East Coast Highway on suspicion of DUI; bail was $2,500, a report said.

Police took a report of a grand theft at 1 p.m. today in the 3100 block of Ocean Boulevard, online logs state, and they made an arrest at 12:45 p.m. today after a report of a person down in the 400 block of Marguerite Avenue, online logs state. Details about these cases were not immediately available.


High Surf Advisory Issued; Rain in Forecast

posted: December 15th, 2014 10:06 am | 0No Comments

The National Weather Service has issued a high surf advisory starting at 6 p.m. tonight, coinciding with rain expected to start tonight and be heavy Tuesday night and Wednesday.

The high surf advisory lasts through noon Wednesday, according to the agency’s website.

“A new big swell will arrive late today with a fairly long period,” the advisory states. “This will bring high surf and strong rip currents to the beaches tonight through Wednesday morning…with the highest surf occurring Tuesday morning,” the advisory states. Huntington Beach and south of Del Mar will see the highest surf, and high tides won’t be high enough to produce tidal overflow, the advisory states.

Waves will be 3 to 6 feet today with sets of 7 feet by evening, with 6 to 10 foot waves and locally higher sets late tonight through Tuesday. The surf will slowly diminish late Tuesday and Wednesday. Swimming conditions will be dangerous, the advisory states.

The forecast says that there’s a 30 percent chance of rain today and a 90 percent chance of heavy rain tonight. Showers are likely Tuesday, with an 80 percent chance of heavy rain Tuesday night and Wednesday. There’s a 30 percent chance of showers Wednesday night, but it should be mostly sunny Thursday and Friday.


Library Announces 2015 Medical Lecture Series

posted: December 15th, 2014 07:01 am | 0No Comments

The Newport Beach Public Library and UC Irvine Health will host “Medicine in Our Backyard,” a series of free lectures focusing on technology and research, beginning in January, according to a news release.

The first lecture will take place at 7 p.m. Monday Jan. 26 and will feature Dr. Claudia Kawas, a professor of neurology, and neurobiology and behavior at the University of California-Irvine, who will present a program called “Living to Age Ninety and Beyond.” She will discuss “significant findings from the research and share tips on what types of food, activities or lifestyles are associated with living longer and ways to remain dementia-free in your 90s,” the news release states.

The lectures will take place monthly through May on Mondays at 7 p.m. in the Central Library’s Friends Room.

The speakers include Dr. Richard Van Etten, a professor of medicine and director of the Chao Family Comprehensive Cancer Center at UCI, who will discuss “The Promise of Targeted and Immune Therapies: The Future of Cancer Treatment is Here” on Feb. 23.

On March 23, the lecture will feature Dr. William Karnes, director of UCI’s High-risk Colon Cancer Program, and Dr. Deepika Nathan, an assistant clinical professor, discussing “A Colon Cancer-Free Orange County. We Can Do This!”

On April 20, Dr. Jaime Landman, chair of the Department of Urology at UC Irvine Health, will lecture on “The Past, Present and Future of Surgical Kidney Disease: Inspiration to Innovation.” And on May 18, Dr. Christian Fox, professor of Emergency Medicine and assistant dean of Student Affairs at UCI’s School of Medicine, Dr. Frank Hsu, acting chair and clinical professor in the Department of Neurological Surgery, and Dr. Warren Wiechmann, assistant clinical professor of emergency medicine and associate dean of instructional technologies at UCI’s School of Medicine, will present “Technology and Medicine.”

No registration for the lectures is required, and seating will be first-come, first-served. For more information, please call (949) 717-3800, extension 2.

The library is located at 1000 Avocado Ave.


CdM Today Poll of the Week

posted: December 15th, 2014 05:04 am | 0No Comments