Jenny Burman Jenny Burman
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from Echo Park

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This year at Grace Simons

The Citizens Committee to Save Elysian Park had its annual fundraiser dinner last night at Grace Simons Lodge in Elysian Park. It is the eighth if not ninth year I have attended the springtime event, which is always interesting, drawing the old guard of the neighborhood as well as civics nerds of all ages, oddballs of all ages, people who care about the park. In fact, dinner to dinner, I have watched some of the younger folks turn into old guard or near old guard, certainly establishment.

Ha! You may shout, Echo Park establishment? And, yes, that's what it was: the committee folks, the activists (including perhaps a few anarchists), the ones who have fought the city or collaborated with it on important developments, such as the saving of Elysian Park some 40 years ago, when there were plans to build a convention center right smack in the park, perhaps where the lodge is located right this very minute.

The best way to differentiate between annual dinners, of course, is to compare and contrast -- never mind that's not always fair. Here are a few notes in that regard:

This year, they had nicer centerpieces than ever: bromeliads with little limes and other greens in terra cotta pots. They were too nice not to give away as favors, so the committee devised a system. At each table, one chair had a post-it underneath. That person got to keep the centerpiece. Christine Peters announced this from the podium. As virtually all the seats were occupied, there was no danger of centerpieces not getting homes. And this being Echo Park -- where limes are loved, as are bromeliads, anything green in fact, and this being Echo Park, where desires can sometimes be raw -- people started looking under their chairs immediately. Anarchy! Christine had to beg for quiet as chairs were overturned, people getting out of their seats, talking, voices. It took a little while for quiet to return.

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