The Citizen of the Year Award and Golden Sparkplug Awards used to be presented at a dinner organized annually by the Palisadian-Post since 1947.
However, when local resident Alan Smolinisky bought the Post in 2012, he decided he didn’t want his staff to “waste time” organizing the dinner, which traditionally brought people together one night a year to honor the town’s activists. The new owner professed to love Pacific Palisades and its traditions, but clearly, he was blowing hot air.
Fortunately, the Community Council agreed to take over the awards ceremony, which involves organizing the dinner and determining who receives the various awards (which since 2014 have included the Spirit of the Palisades Award).
Over the years, invariably but unfortunately, a number of worthy residents have failed to receive a Golden Sparkplug Award, which has the following criteria: to honor those citizens who ignite ideas and projects into community action that benefit Palisadians throughout the community.
This year, I have heard from several people who wondered why two Sparkplug candidates were not selected.
One was Scott Cullen, who singlehandedly replanted the Bowdoin median between Radcliffe and Temescal Canyon), converting it from an uncultivated weed patch into a landscaped strip. One Circling the News reader wrote, “I see him watering on Saturdays and just tonight wondered why he hadn’t been recognized?” I told the reader that I had nominated him and maybe next year he will receive a Sparkplug.
Another reader was upset that Michelle Vallemaire, who has yarn-bombed different locations in Pacific Palisades for seven years to draw attention to National Women’s History Month, was not honored.
Also, the Movies in the Park guys were not honored, nor were the Turkey Trot organizers.
With so many good candidates, it does indeed become a judgment call by the selection committee. And CTN applauds the people they have selected as this year’s Sparkplugs: Don Camacho, Lisa Glantz and Mike Lanning–as well as Citizen of the Year Kevin Niles and George Wolfberg, Pride of the Palisades.
Next year, if you feel strongly about someone being honored, make sure that person(s) is nominated by several people.
But I do think we can all agree: It’s wonderful that we live in a community with so many great people to choose from, and that we have a Community Council willing to take on all the work that’s involved.