Village Green Park Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

Cindy Kirven and Betsy Collins organized the Village Green’s 50th Anniversary that was celebrated on Sunday.
Photo: Rich Schmitt/CTN

By CHAZ PLAGER

The Palisades Village Green celebrated its 50th Anniversary on August 27.

Organized by Cindy Kirven and Betsy Collins, co-presidents of the Village Green, the event showcased the history of the park as well as the spirit and activism of the Palisades.

“The focus of this event today is the celebration of a community who got together 50 years ago and said they would rather have a park than a gas station,” said Kirven. The Village Green is the heart of the Palisades, literally and figuratively.

The park stands at the exact center of the village and is meant to represent “the heart of our town where people come to connect,” said resident Rick Steil, AP Photography teacher at Palisades High School and judge of the photo entries for a contest held for the celebration.

Initially the land was created as a park that faced this historic Business Block building across from Swarthmore. That park land was converted to a Standard Service station in 1945.

In 1972, Standard Oil decided not to renew its lease. The newly organized Pacific Palisades Community Council established a five-member Village Green Committee and signed a lease giving the committee an option to buy the land — if it could raise the necessary funds. Starting in October that year, nearly $70,000 was raised. About $46,000 was used to purchase the land and the rest of the money went to park development.

The Palisades Village Green was certified as a California nonprofit and formally dedicated on August 17, 1973.

The anniversary celebration kicked off when, members of Troop 223G, which included Sienna Nocas, Eloise McCarthy, Gabi Gabayan and Ally Martin, raised the American flag.

Mia Ruhman
Photo: Rich Schmitt/CTN

Joe Almarez
Photo: Rich Schmitt/CTN

Mia Ruhman, classical singer, composer and college student gave a stirring rendition of the national anthem.

Serving as a master of ceremony was Rich Wilken, a long-time resident, self-described as “ne’er do well” who introduced the speakers, including town historian and archivist Randy Young. He extended his thanks to the many volunteers and organizers of the event while reminiscing on his time in the Palisades.

Joe Almaraz, owner of the oldest business in the Palisades, came on next to say a few words about life in the Palisades and the history of the Palisades Barbershop.

Steil announced the winners of the Village Green Anniversary Photography Contest, and people were able to see the photos that were displayed on the green.

Robert Westerholm and Nicole Hakimian came out on top, with Westerholm taking first place in the Long Exposure and Artistic categories and Hakimian taking first in Black and White and second in the Color category.

Collins then took the stage and said, “We want to take a minute to appreciate that a 50-year Anniversary means there have been 50 years of volunteerism to keep the park going.

“Pacific Palisades had the gumption 50 years ago to establish this park, and this celebration confirms that spirit still is alive and well in Pacific Palisades,” Collins said.

Jimmy Dunne came on stage and told a story of the “greatest town in America,” which was also known as the origin of the Village Green.

Former Green presidents, Joan Graves, Roger Wood and Marge Gold (not present) were honored with certificates of appreciation from the City of Los Angeles, presented by Councilmember Traci Park’s office.

Roger Wood and Joan Graves were honored for their volunteer efforts as past presidents of the Village Green.
Photo: Rich Schmitt/CTN

The Shambles Folk Rock Band and Westside Jazz Ensemble entertained those assembled under the trees of the Green.

“It’s a great privilege to be able to organize and celebrate this wonderful fixture of our town,” Kirven said. “I was also responsible for the 40th anniversary celebration, and I hope to stick around here until the 100th anniversary, too.”

Randy Young spoke about the history of the Green on Sunday.
Photo: Rich Schmitt/CTN

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One Response to Village Green Park Celebrates Its 50th Anniversary

  1. Betsy Collins says:

    Thank you for this wonderful coverage of our event! It truly was a celebration of all our volunteers.

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