El Cajon, CA
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Articles by Cynthia Robertson

Whenever kids show up at a Christmas party for them, they get excited. Throw in a magic show and they’re hyped. But you’ve never seen kids get more amped-up than the group of more than 100 gathered in the lobby at the Ronald Reagan Center in El Cajon on the evening of December 22, 2017. 

Alex Toporovsky is an artist in rare form. Not only has he carved out a living for himself, supporting his wife, son and daughter, his art has been hand-picked for an exhibit in a gallery in China. In February, Toporovsky’s work will be shown at the art museum in Guangzhou, that country’s third largest city. 

Naturally, the Santee resident is ecstatic about the opportunity. He plans on going out to China for the opening of the show.

Though the temperatures reached the mid 80’s during the day last Saturday, opening day of the annual Holiday in the Village, when evening fell, the temperatures did, too. La Mesans were eager to go to the annual event, where it’s always about meeting up with family and friends.

There were dancers and singers and entertainers everywhere along the Boulevard. Plenty of vendors kept the shoppers happy, as did the retail stores open until late. Folks from the Fourpenny House, a new Scottish restaurant soon to open, handed out samples of their stew and bread.

Though Amanda Matti seems like an ordinary wife and young mother of two girls, her life story is quite different than many other women her age. The El Cajon resident has served in the Navy and was deployed to Baghdad, Iraq in 2005 as a Foreign Affair Liaison Officer and Intelligence Analyst. That was when and where she met Fahdi Matti, who worked alongside her as a translator in the field, and who would eventually become her husband.

High in the hills of Santee overlooking the intersecting freeways of I-8, 125, 67 and 52 are some elegant Mediterranean-style buildings that resemble high-end apartments. In fact, it is Lantern Crest Senior Living, a resort-style retirement community. 

Every year since 1987, the Christmas Story Tree has bejeweled the Spreckels Organ Pavilion in Balboa Park during December Nights on the Prado, formerly called Christmas on the Prado. 

“The tree is our church’s gift to the city,” said Paul Plunk, music director of Del Cerro Baptist Church in La Mesa. 

For three days beginning Nov. 26, a work crew from the church worked to build, green and decorate the 34-foot-high tree. 

Every city in San Diego County has its share of homeless people living on its streets, La Mesa included. At La Mesa United Methodist Church, the screening of “Tony--the Movie” a few weeks ago provided an eye-opening, heart-wrenching first-hand look at what living on the streets is like, and how much work it is just to survive.

The La Mesa Lions Club “That’s Amore” fundraiser dinner took place on October 19, 2017 at the La Mesa Community Center. To the tune of Italian songs played by accordion Howard Kantorowski, hundreds of Lions Club members, friends and guests happily ate their dinner of pasta, salads and bread, prepared and served up by Cupid’s Catering. 

Dinnertime at Waterford Terrace Retirement Community is always an elegant affair, but the grand opening celebration of the new rooftop park on the evening of October 12 was cause for celebration and a fine party atop the 6th floor. Fresh Air Jazz Trio had everyone soaking up the view while tapping their feet to light jazz. Guests enjoyed elegant hors d’oeuvres such as Caprese salad skewers and mini shrimp cocktails and finishing with cannoli and eclairs.

What started out as a small organization by Mac and Ruth Wordell in 1974, La Mesa Beautiful has laid down some deep roots. The 39th Annual Awards Luncheon at the La Mesa Community Center on October 12, 2017 recognized residents and businesses within La Mesa who have ensured that the city remains the “Jewel of the Hills.”

“La Mesa Beautiful is an important organization, small but mighty,” said La Mesa Mayor Mark Arapostathis.