The annual Festival of Lights celebration at the Mission Inn Hotel and Spa in Riverside again has ranked at the top of a USA Today poll.
In late 2014, USA Today readers voted it the best public lights display, and on Wednesday it was named the best holiday festival, beating events in San Francisco, San Diego and seven other cities.
The 23rd year of the event features more than 4 million lights, 400 characters on the property and some returning snack favorites like funnel cakes and miniature doughnuts.
Surrounding events like vendors and ice skating will end Jan. 2, but the rest will remain through Jan. 6.
The Festival of Lights is just one of the many things that make Riverside a location of choice for people seeking a great and affordable community. Our community provides an abundance of opportunities to be amazed, inspired, and entertained.
For the entire list of holiday festival, click here.
When Annette Ramsey thinks back to her childhood, it is her teachers that she remembers as her greatest inspiration.
“My teachers made me feel important,” she said.
Ramsey waited until after her children were grown and had moved out before she decided to return to school so that she could follow a longtime dream and become a teacher. Leaving a successful 23-year career as a designer, Ramsey got her A.A. in education from Riverside City College before transferring to UC Riverside, where she earned a B.A. in liberal arts.
“I went through several years of focusing on the one goal of becoming an elementary school special needs teacher,” Ramsey said. “I realized toward the end that I did not like the way they said I had to teach. I’m a rebel and have been since my early days. I still wanted to teach, but I wanted to teach something I was good at and something that would really benefit a child who struggles in a regular class setting. I believe with all my heart that art is the answer for these children and adults.”
The 62-year-old Ramsey struck out on her own. She began teaching art classes for low-income children at the Cesar Chavez Community Center in Riverside’s East Side neighborhood. It was the first class of what would become the Riverside Art Academy. She currently operates Studio 38B in downtown Riverside’s Life Arts Center and teaches classes for children at the Orange Terrace Community Center and Starting Gate Educational Services, both in Riverside, and for developmentally disabled adults at Corona’s Peppermint Ridge.
Although she lives in Redlands, Ramsey’s work is primarily in Riverside. Her young students have been exhibited in China and Mexico, as well as several locations in Riverside, including the Riverside Community Arts Association and Riverside Art Museum. In addition, their work has appeared in three exhibitions in U.S. Rep. Mark Takano’s Riverside office. Ramsey is also assisting Congressman Takano’s staff with the annual congressional art competition.
“It’s an honor to help with something that can have such an important impact on a student’s life,” she said.
If a program can be said to be dearest to Ramsey’s heart, it would be Starting Gate, a non-public school housed on the former campus of Riverside’s Grant Elementary School. The program serves multiple school districts that refer students who are currently not able to be enrolled in public schools.
“This is my calling,” Ramsey said. “I see a huge difference in these students. The teachers and staff are amazed at the students’ response. I wasn’t. I know that the arts can make a difference in their lives. These are children who are going to be lost if we don’t do something to make them feel like there is a future in something they do well.”
Ramsey is a mother of two and a grandmother of seven. She is also a tireless advocate for the community and will be recognized as the November Arts and Innovation Honoree of the Month at the Riverside City Council meeting Nov 10.
In addition to the classes she teaches at various sites, Ramsey runs the Art Masters Academy out of her studio in downtown Riverside’s historic Life Arts Center. She hopes to build up a scholarship fund for students and to create an art masters curriculum that she can share with other teachers.
Ramsey’s kindness and passion to make a difference in her community is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified citypillar. Ramsey demonstrates that we are a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
For more information on Annette Ramsey, visit her Facebook page, Heart Enterprise.
Almost 1,300 California Baptist University students participated in intramurals during the 2014-15 academic year. Thirty teams – 19 men’s and 11 women’s – competed in flag football. Several thousand came to watch the last games of the season at the Fortuna Bowl during Homecoming in November 2014.
BestColleges.com recently named CBU as one of the best colleges for intramural sports. Colleges were vetted based on the number of intramural sports they offered, the qualities of team management and coaching, and student surveys, which assessed how enjoyable intramural sports were to play at each school, according to the website.
Flag football, volley, basketball and soccer are the main intramural sports offered at CBU. Wiffle ball, kickball, ping pong, racquetball and dodge ball are available for one or two weeks or a single day event.
Intramural sports are popular for several reasons, said Tyler Cox, director of recreation programs. Students spend more time out of class, than they do in, so intramurals give them something to do. Athletes who do not play at the collegiate level enjoy the competitive outlet.
“The No. 1 thing, it just builds relationships,” Cox said. “People are going to have a more enjoyable experience while they’re here because they feel a part of something. They’ve made some deeper connections. I think that’s going to overall just enhance the students’ experience while they’re here.”
One of the most popular options is flag football. The season culminates with the Fortuna Bowl, which includes fireworks and brings an exciting end to Homecoming Weekend. Students often join a flag football team because they hope to make it to the end and be part of the event, Cox said.
At new student orientation, students learn about different opportunities for participation, from service projects to clubs to intramural sports. Sports is a popular activity that draws people together, Cox said.
“We’ve seen those connections last throughout the four years,” he said.
Representing Seizing Our Destiny’s location of choice pillar, CBU attracts students and athletes from across the country due to their great reputation, scholastic achievements, and athletic programs.
Innovation and expression will take center stage when the Riverside Community College Dance Department presents Celebrate Dance, the annual student-choreographed showcase, at 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, May 28, 29 and 30.
The concert features pieces choreographed by RCC Dance students, as well as guest artist Daniel Cruz, from Seattle. The event features original music by Odesza with remixes by Ambassadeurs, Mazde & Hermitude. Cruz was a guest teacher and adjudicator in February, and returned in April to set the new work on the eager choreographers.
The students based their choreography on responses to the questions: What inspires you? What makes you move? What pushes you back? What stops you in your tracks?
Tickets are available at the box office, 951-222-8100, or at landispac.com. General admission tickets are $15. The price for students, senior citizens, RCC staff and faculty, and children, 3 and older, is $10. Parking on campus requires a permit, however, park-by-hour spots are available.
Events like this help make Riverside a location of choice for people seeking a city that supports that arts. Our community provides an abundance of opportunities to be amazed, inspired and entertained, including arts and cultural offerings.
Brain cancer. Not the diagnosis Cassie Nguyen was expecting as a sophomore at Riverside’s Martin Luther King High School. Neither was the debilitating surgery that saved her life.
Today, Nguyen is an honor student and School of Public Policy ambassador at the University of California, Riverside, where she will graduate in June. She is a 10-year cancer survivor, American Cancer Society advocate, and the creator of Spotlight On Hope Film Camp, a free film making program for pediatric cancer patients that until now has been held only in Los Angeles.
Nguyen hopes to bring the film camp to UC Riverside and the Inland Empire, and is screening short films written and produced by pediatric cancer patients in the program on Thursday, April 2, from 3:30 to 6:30 p.m. in Highlander Union Building 367. The event is free and open to the public. Parking is free in Lot 1; pick up parking permits at the Kiosk on West Campus Drive at the University Avenue entrance to the campus. Reservations are requested as seating is limited and may be made online. The screening is co-sponsored by University Honors and the Women’s Resource Center.
The Riverside resident said she hopes the screening will generate support to expand the program to the Inland Empire. She hopes eventually to establish a nonprofit foundation and offer film camps across the country.
Approximately 13,500 children are diagnosed with cancer each year in the U.S., and about 25 percent of them die, Nguyen said. Although Spotlight On Hope Film Camp does not reduce the death rate, it does provide a therapeutic outlet for pediatric cancer patients, she explained.
“I know how boring the hospital scene is,” Nguyen said, recalling the surgery to remove the tumor from her brain, a year of radiation and chemotherapy, and physical therapy to learn to write with her left hand and regain mobility to address on-going balance and difficult vision issues. “I wanted to do something to help kids take their minds off what was happening to them and give them something to look forward to.”
Nguyen suggested the film camp for young cancer patients while working as an intern for Think Ten Media Group, a production company based in Castaic that aims to use the power of media to create change and spread awareness of key issues.
She raised $700 to cover production costs of the first camp, held in September 2013, by selling plastic cancer bracelets to UCR faculty and students, family and friends in her junior year. She dedicated the first film camp to a younger cousin who died of sarcoma cancer at age 14.
Think Ten Media Group co-founders and filmmakers Ramon Hamilton and Jennifer Fischer helped Nguyen develop the Spotlight On Hope Film Camp for pediatric cancer patients at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles as part of their company’s arts education program. The UCLA School of Theater, Film and Television hosts the camp in Los Angeles.
When the film camp proved to be successful, Nguyen applied for and won a $10,000 scholarship from the Donald A. Strauss PublicService Scholarship Foundation in 2014, which funded 10 more film camps at UCLA. The foundation awards $10,000 scholarships to as many as 15 California college juniors annually to support public-service projects that the students carry out during their senior year.
Spotlight On Hope Film Camp allows patients to explore the art of green screen and special effects film-making while working in groups to create a short, green screen and special effects film. The participants, who range in age from 8 to 22, also learn about story/character development, camera technique, video and FX editing during three days of weekend classes.
“Being a pediatric patient myself, I understand how valuable a creative therapeutic outlet can be in the midst of your long, dreadful and difficult journey battling cancer,” Nguyen explained. “Spotlight On Hope Film Camp can help children live in a fantasy world that allows them to get away from all their troubles and create lasting memories.”
Nguyen efforts to put smiles on pediatric cancer patients faces is a great example of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar, she demonstrates that we’re a caring community that has compassion for all of its inhabitants, and engages with one another for a better life for all.
Some 2,000 people put on red clothes and walking shoes on Saturday to raise awareness about diabetes and to raise money for the American Diabetes Association. The passion and dedication among Riversiders to raise awareness and promote research exemplifies Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Our community collaborates as one to tackle issues of common concern, and accelerate the common good of our City as a whole.
Before and after a pleasant 2-mile stroll around Lake Evans in Fairmount Park, Step Out Riverside participants gathered to share stories about how the disease has touched their lives, to learn about how diabetes is on the increase among Americans, and to applaud individuals, groups and businesses who worked hard to raise money for the event. Red Striders – walkers who have diabetes – received special attention, as did those who raised more than $1,000 for the event.
Three-year-old twins Logan and Gavin Smith ,of Temecula, got to ride the route in their stroller, relying on dad-power to keep them moving. Logan has diabetes; Gavin does not. Parents Jim and Nicole Smith participate in diabetes fundraising year-round through the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Nicole Smith said.
The top fundraiser was Kaiser Permanente, which raised more than $35,000. Gless Ranch citrus growers raised more than $29,000. Among families, friends and clubs, the top fundraisers were Hogan’s Heroes, a team that raised more than $8,000.
TEDx Riverside brought together 20 speakers for an eight-hour marathon of inspiration on Thursday at the Fox Performing Arts Center. TED conferences are brought to communities throughout the world to encourage a convergence of technology, design and entertainment. To promote education, TEDx Riverside gave 500 tickets to local high schools and filled the balcony with teenagers. It provided buses and lunch for students of Riverside Unified School District.
“Everybody in this room is a lifelong learner,” Riverside Mayor Rusty Bailey declared in his opening remarks.
Most of the speakers had Inland ties, but many have wide renown. They included Nobel laureate Richard Schrock, who earned his bachelor’s degree from UC Riverside in 1967 and is now a chemistry professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Another UCR graduate was Steve Breen, a two-time Pulitzer Prize winner for editorial cartooning and a children’s author.
The TEDx Riverside event was a model of all the Seizing Our Destiny pillars. Riversiders from of all ages and backgrounds attended the event on Thursday October, 16 as a unified city with a common interest to be entertained and inspired. Although each speaker was completely different, they all seem to be on the same wavelength of maximizing personal potential and advocating intelligent growth in our community. Riverside is a city that honors and builds on its assets to become a location of choice that catalyzes innovation in all forms, while enhancing quality of life.
“Cahuilla Continuum” tells the story of Southern California’s native people, the Cahuilla. The tribe’s history is brought to life through artifacts, including baskets, ollas, regalia, paintings, photographs and more. The exhibit features more than 160 objects from the museum’s collection as well as from the National Museum of the American Indian, Cabazon Band of Mission Indians Cultural Museum and private collectors.
Smithsonian Week is a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s unified city pillar. Riversiders come together to learn and pay tribute to one of the many cultures that surround us, because they all play a valuable role in making our country what it is today. We are a caring community that has compassion for all, focusing on accelerating the common good for our City as a whole.
For Smithsonian Week, Sept. 23 to Sept. 27, the museum will feature two special Smithsonian guests, who will give presentations related to the “Cahuilla Continuum” exhibit. During the week, these special guests will be visiting local schools with their programs, but they will also give free presentations Sept. 27 at the local museum.
9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Riverside Metropolitan Museum, 3580 Mission Inn Ave., Riverside, $3 suggested donation. For more information, visit riversideca.gov/museum.
A wide-array of speakers, including a pair of prominent UC Riverside alumni, are scheduled to speak at TEDxRiverside on October 16, 2014 at the Fox Performing Arts Center in downtown Riverside. Bringing Riversiders together for the upcoming TEDx experience is a great representation of Seizing Our Destiny’s intelligent growth pillar. It will inspire Riverside’s future to take on leadership roles in Riverside and encourage them to harness their potential. Riverside works everyday to promote an outstanding quality of life for all through intelligent growth.
Events like TEDxRiverside are local, self-organized programs designed to bring the “Technology, Entertainment, Design”-style presentations to a community. TEDxRiverside was conceived and is being organized by members of Leadership Riverside 2014, a 10-month program sponsored by the Greater Riverside Chambers of Commerce that helps to develop the next generation of active leaders for Riverside.
“TEDxRiverside is the effort of a group of local community leaders who knew our community had a lot to offer and thought hosting a TEDx event would be a great way to promote the great works and potentially reach a global audience,” said Michael Pazzani, vice chancellor for Research and Economic Development at UCR and the organizing committee chairman. “The Leadership Class of 2014, with the help of many local sponsors, saw the importance to further the efforts in the region to promote arts and innovation. TEDxRiverside is a unique way to bring an entire day filled with exceptional speakers to one stage accomplishing this goal.”
“Riverside has joined the growing TED community to promote many of our own and the ‘ideas worth spreading’ right here in our community,” said Rebeccah Goldware, chief of staff in the Office of Research and Economic Development at UC Riverside and the Riverside TEDx organizer. “The breadth of information will span from local history to the future of artificial intelligence, all in one day.”
For more details and ticket information, click here.
Who is missing from the following list of names: Michael Phelps, Ryan Lochte, Conor Dwyer, Missy Franklin, Katie Ledecky, and Elizabeth Beisel? The answer is Riversider Tyler Clary. While the first six names were probably the most discussed heading into the United States National Championships, Clary was largely overlooked.
Tyler Clary is a shining example of Riverside being a location of choice. There is a myriad of talent and potential blossoming in Riverside, and our community is proud of that fact. Through commitment and dedication, Riversiders such as Tyler are able to show the world what we are capable of. Our community is a location of choice that attracts talented and diverse people, making it one of the most inspiring and adventurous places to live.
For the third consecutive day, Clary turned in an excellent performance, this time posting the second-fastest time in the world to take top honors in the 400 individual medley. Clary is knocking down some big names on a regular basis. In the 200 back, he took down the likes of Ryan Lochteand Ryan Murphy. “Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve been really competitive,” Clary said. “In the heat of the moment, I’m willing to throw up blood to get my hand on the wall first. It doesn’t always work out for me, but it sure is fun when it does.”