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Thanksgiving and the Return of SCV's Expatriates
November, 2007 - Issue #37
This Thanksgiving, many former residents of the SCV will be returning here. Having forsaken our glorious valley for life elsewhere, I'm not all that sure we should be welcoming them back. But Santa Claritans are a forgiving people, and I suspect most will be only too happy to receive their kids, friends and relatives back home. When greeting former Claritans at the front door, however, I ask one small favor. Hold off on the hugs and "I love you's" till later; your first order of business is to ask them, "Why the heck did you leave?"

Leaving for higher education gets a pass - at least until COC starts issuing Bachelor's Degrees. Leaving for work is harder to forgive. I suppose our elected officials can be excused since they only leave the valley for the purpose of representing it. To deal with everyone else, I suggest you begin picking up job applications from our fine local businesses. Leave them lying around the house wherever SCV expats might be expected to wander. If done properly, your son might just give up that pretentious job on Wall Street for one at the Way Station.

One excuse for leaving SCV that was, is, and forever will be unacceptable is any variant of "Santa Clarita is bland and boring." Blasphemy most foul! Santa Clarita is excitement and exhilaration manifest. There is never a shortage of themed charity functions to attend, City Hall is oft rocked by scandal, and even the arts - particularly "Fiddler on the Roof" - thrive here. If your ex-Claritan friends or family still need convincing, here are some autumnal Claritan highlights:

A Fresh Coat
The plan to redevelop downtown Newhall has always walked a fine line between reckless optimism and boundless delusion. Indeed, much of the redevelopment committee's hope for the area rests in the power of paint.

Three painted murals are meant to draw visitors to the heart of Newhall. Painted trashcans abound, presumably to make Old Town a destination for discarding. Even the street painting festival took place in the planned redevelopment area early this October. Most infamously, though, paint was applied to streets in a pattern that forced motorists to reverse for parking.

On September 25, the City Council agreed to pay $60,000 to change this back-in parking to a more orthodox configuration. I think the back-in drama was no mistake on part of the City but rather a shrewd calculation. Indeed, I personally took two special trips out to Newhall just to park. And now that back-in parking has been sentenced to death, I predict an even bigger rush to try it out before it disappears - a rush that will conveniently coincide with holiday season shopping.

Old Glory Disappoints
After all that was done for the ancient oak tree, the least it could have done was died. I'm referring, of course, to the massive oak called "Old Glory" that was slated to be removed for a road expansion project in Stevenson Ranch (not yet SCV, but close). Environmentalist John Quigley sat in its boughs for weeks in the autumn of 2003, but he was eventually forced down.

John Laing Homes knew it would be making a sylvan martyr if it cut down the tree, so it spent hundreds of thousands of dollars moving it to what is now Pico Canyon Park. Many thought the 400-year-old tree would die after extraction, but it has endured. In fact, the oak is producing a crop of acorns this very autumn. A tree is given a perfect chance to die for a cause (i.e. rampant development in the Valley) and just insists on prospering. I hope the acorns are ashamed.

Football, Anyone?
Most people build football allegiances based on paternal input, home-town allegiance and favorite players. For me, it all comes down to which team is the most Claritan.

Local high schools have produced several athletes that made it into the NFL, both past and present. Darryl Ingram and Kyle Boller hail from Hart, for example, though it's Manuel White of Valencia High School who deserves special recognition. While already retired after seeing no real action on the Washington Redskins, he exemplified how ex-Claritans should behave when he returned to SCV to help Parks & Rec kick-off this year's football season. That is, people can go out into the over-rated world outside the SCV just as long as they come back.

As I've already requested, try and drive this point home with your formerly-Claritan Thanksgiving guests. No, we're not facing a crisis of emigration, but there are those of us who can't imagine the prospect of facing life in Santa Clarita alone.
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