July 12, 2008

Tot Lot Will Grow Up

By John Canalis

"A magic little place where we can play together" won't be too little for too much longer.

Those words, borrowed from a Paul McCartney song, appear on a plaque at the Belmont Shore Tot Lot in Livingston Park.

The group of volunteers behind plans to renovate and double the size of the park has scheduled a groundbreaking ceremony with Mayor Bob Foster at 10 a.m. today.

"We're going to celebrate the fact that we're over our goal for the money," said Long Beach Fire Capt. Mike DuRee, who spearheaded the effort to improve the park.

Volunteers raised about $153,000, he said, and the city will match the remainder of the $300,000 project cost.

The playground, which is located at Livingston Drive and Park Avenue, will remain open for play this weekend before closing early next week, DuRee said.

Renovations should take about three weeks. The plan is to add new play equipment, benches and picnic tables, install a Spanish-style entryway and pour a new walking and tricycle path.

Plans call for separate zones for children in three age categories: 2 to 4; 4 to 7; and 7 to 12.

The Tot Lot Committee held several fundraisers and sold T-shirts and donor plaques to help pay for the work.

While the playground is closed, Belmont Shore and Belmont Heights families have several nearby options, including the playgrounds at Bay Shore Park, Bixby Park, Colorado Lagoon, Marine Park (Mother's Beach), Marina Vista Park and Recreation Park.

For information, visit www.totlot


Children Today

In May, I wrote a piece about how families who rely on Children Today, a child-care program for homeless children, need strollers to transport their tykes from shelters to the PlayHouse centers on the west and north sides of Long Beach.

An update recently came by mail. Dora Jacildo, who heads the program, sent a thank you card stating that eight strollers had been donated.

This will make it easier for families without cars to get their children to the centers. Children Today watches the tykes while homeless parents work, look for work or go to school.

For information, visit childrentoday.org.

Big Green Bus

Visitors to Whole Foods Market on Marina Drive on Friday may have noticed The Big Green Bus in the parking lot.

The eco-mission on wheels stopped in Long Beach on a nationwide tour to promote alternative fuel sources.

"We are 12 undergraduate students," Addie Gorlin said on her cell phone while the bus was in Carson. "We are traveling around the United States in a converted bus that runs on waste vegetable oil."

Used french fry grease and other waste from restaurants power the bus.

And though it might smell a little like a Happy Meal, the fuel burns clean.

On the bus were students from Dartmouth College, who left Hanover, N.H., June 9 and plan to travel through Aug. 27.

To learn more about the bus, visit www.changents.com/ biggreenbus.

Surf Bus

Though Green Bus travels are limited to Dartmouth students, the Long Beach Surf Bus is open to city children ages 5 to 17.

The bus, chartered by the Long Beach Department of Parks, Recreation and Marine, will pick up youths at 19 locations citywide and take them to Seapoint in Huntington Beach.

The free program, which runs July21 to Aug. 22, will take kids to "Surf City" once a week for five weeks.

The city will provide surfboards, bodyboards, wet suits and rash guards.

There will be instruction in water safety and first aid.

There is room for 300 would-be surfers.

For information, call 562-570-3100 or www.lbparks.org

[email protected], 562-499-1273

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