By: Sonny “Slots” Boombatz

Being the proprietor of this casino, I, Sonny Slots, personally know that it takes a lotta grease to get things rollin’ in this town, if ya know what I mean, and I think you do.

Yeah, yeah, I know, I know. But just in case you’re not playing with full deck and really don’t know what I mean, let me just spell out for ya exactly what I’m sayin’ here.

We’re talkin’ huuuuuge frickin’ motorized floats with lots of movin’ parts all decked out with beautiful freakin’ flowers from all over the woild. These babies, these floats, need to move like a snake, with every joint lubed. If that don’t happen, someone could get hoit. See what I’m sayin’?

Plus, I’m talkin’ marching bands, and dancers, and gorgeous young princesses, and a queen, and movie stars, and old cars, and horses — a regular pageant. But what keeps that train rollin’ on time? See what I’m sayin’ here?

OK, ya say you want football, too? Fuggetaboutit. We’re talkin’ football, lots of football. And. I. Love. It.

But hold on a sec. Maybe grease ain’t exactly the right woid, ’cause, while that’s generally always a very good thing, depending on the business you’re in, what it really takes is yards and yards, er, I mean hundreds and hundreds of volunteer hours from each individual member of the Tournament of Roses to pull off this kinda New Year‘s Day caper, er, floral extravaganza.

Hmmm, then again, maybe grease is the right woid after all: maybe it’s really elbow grease. Yeah, that’s it, elbow grease.

OK, so then, right after the Rose Parade is what they call it, there’s the granddaddy of ’em all when it comes to college football bowl games, the Rose Bowl. These two are naturals together — like an ace and a face, or a handful of hearts, or lemons and vodka. Not even New Joisy has anything like this. Not even a good day at Santa Anita can beat this deal, at least not according to PW readers. All yous guys picked these two as the Best Annual Events in the paper’s annual Best of Pasadena polling, which, incidentally, I swear on the souls of my grandchildren, was all on the up and up.

Another sure bet this year was the Huntington Library, Art Galleries and Botanical Gardens, which may be the very finest art gallery and art collection in all the woild. And that Jennifer Jones over at the Norton Simon Museum, what a class act. “Song of Bernadette.” Ever see that? Terrific movie. She and Norton, her old man, they both cashed in their chips way too early but they still get plenty of respect from PW readers, who once again voted Jennifer’s and Norton’s place Best Museum. Those crazy kids win without even tryin’.

While I’m on the subjects of art and school, there ain’t no gamblin’ goin’ on with serious art students who want to succeed at ArtCenter College of Design, another regular visitor to the PW winner’s circle, voted the Best Art School again this year. These kids ain’t taking any chances with their educations. They’re in it to win it.

It’s really over at Caltech where all the high-stakes education games are being run, with those math-lovin’ Beavers winning Best Institute of Higher Learning for the umpteenth friggin’ time, and their rocket-launchin’ kissin’ cousins Jet Propulsion Laboratory voted one of the Best Places to Work, right behind … wait for it … Integrity Lash. You coulda been using a NASA telescope and still not seen that one comin’.

Also in the realm of education, a bunch of sure things finished in the money again this year, with Aveson Charter School winning for Best Charter School, the Pasadena Conservatory of Music voted the community’s Best Music School, and Mentor Avenue Preschool named Best Preschool. Oh, and the Best Teacher… you guessed it. It’s beloved Yvonne Davis of Don Benito … again. How many years in a row is that, Mrs. Davis?

Oh, and speaking of good, and I’m talkin’ The Man Upstairs kinda good, it looks like Friendship Baptist Church finally came out on top for Best Place to Worship, unseating former worshipping champ All Saints Episcopal Church. Who coulda called that? All I can say is life really is just a roll of the dice sometimes, ain’t it? Just wish I had put a couple C-notes on that race.

When it came to Pasadena’s Best Citizen, Best Business Person and Best Public Official, the smart money was on activist Monica Hubbard, former council candidate and Chamber of Commerce chief Ishmael Trone and Council member Tyron Hampton, in that order, taking home well-deserved trophies. Reserve Police Officer Darryl McKenzie was also voted Best Public Employee. Nice job, folks.

And talk about doublin’ down, Michael Calderon, aka Mr. Pasadena, that guy who knows a little somethin’ about everything — and everyone — is once again Pasadena’s Best Local Personality for the second straight year. Bada bing bada boom to you, my friend. Way to go, Mikey.

OK, so before I cash in my chips and head over to the party, I want to say a coupla things. First, congratulations to everyone who won. Enjoy it while it lasts.

And second, to those who did not win — or place, or show — buck up; you can always spin the big wheel again next year.

OK, enough already. Seeya at the party.




The Rose Parade and Rose Bowl Game

Jan. 1 marks the 129th anniversary of the Rose Parade, again this year sponsored by Honda. It’s also the 104th playing of the Rose Bowl Game, with this year featuring the College Football Playoff Semifinal game presented by Northwestern Mutual. If we were betting types, we’d be looking hard at USC this year to be in that game, and, depending, maybe the national championship. Then again, UCLA sure looked good a few weeks back. But I digress. Together, as the Tournament of Roses website aptly describes it, these events create “a festival of flowers, music and sports unequaled anywhere else in the world.” Over the years, the parade and game have come to be considered “America’s New Year Celebration.” The coming year also marks another milestone; the 100th anniversary of the Rose Queen and Court. The theme of the coming extravaganza is “Making a Difference.” This a sure bet for starting off the New Year on the right foot.

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Chalk Festival

Doo Dah Parade


Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Road, San Marino

(626) 405.2100

This national treasure started by railroad baron and art connoisseur Henry Huntington, who instead of gambling put his money on sure things, started out as a personal collection of 18th- and 19th-century paintings and literature amassed in the Huntington family mansion, located on 120 acres near the Pasadena city line with San Marino. The AC Boardwalk’s Taj Mahal it ain’t, but it is a research library, and the property houses several new structures and exhibits, as well as numerous specialized gardens. Some of  the books and manuscripts counted among its many treasures are a Gutenberg Bible on vellum and early editions of Shakespeare’s works.

Reader Recommended

Flower Pepper Gallery

121 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 795-1895

McGinty’s Gallery

869 E. Mariposa St., Altadena

(626) 794-4477


Art Center College of Design

1700 Lida St., Pasadena

870 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

950 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

1111 S. Arroyo Parkway, Pasadena

(626) 396-2200

ArtCenter College of Design offers students a new model for art and design education in the 21st century. The college’s alumni list contains the names of major figures in the fields of transportation design, product design, graphic design, illustration, and photography and imaging. Founded in Los Angeles in 1930 as the Art Center School, the institution changed its name to Art Center College of Design in 1965 and moved to its current Hillside Campus in Pasadena in 1976, opening a South Campus in Pasadena in 2004. “Learn to create. Influence change. This is our mission statement — and our answer to how art and design impact our global society. Part call-to-action. Part promise. All opportunity,” states the school’s website. Here, big dreams can turn into big payoffs.

Reader Recommended

Armory Center for the Arts

145 N. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-5101

Eliot Arts Magnet

2184 Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 396-5680


Ishmael Trone

While running for the Pasadena City Council in 2012, longtime businessman Ishmael Trone once told a reporter that “nothing stops a bullet like a job,” and he has made it his life’s work to stop bullets aimed at Pasadena’s unemployed young people looking for work with his nonprofit Ideal Youth, which he formed in 2009.  Ishamael, who ran for the council in 2012, owns the business consulting firm F&M Business Center, in partnership with Unyque Financial, a real-estate interest. In 2016 he took over as chairman of the Pasadena Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. And over the past several years, many of his interns found their way to the PW offices, where quite a few found work as writers and photographers.


Aveson Charter Schools

1919 E. Pinecrest Drive, Altadena

(626) 797-1438 |

The goal at Aveson Charter Schools, where teachers are known to 800-plus students as “advisors,” is to help children master all the necessary skills (no, not dealing and card counting) and content while building confidence in their ability to learn, thrive intellectually and think independently, a process which they call Personalized Mastery Learning (PML). Yous see, you must know the hand you’ve been dealt in order to play that hand effectively. The PML continuum, school officials say, teaches children about learning itself.

Reader Recommended

Learning Works

90 N. Daisy Ave., Pasadena

(626) 564-8762 |

Odyssey Charter School

725 W. Altadena Drive, Altadena

(626) 229-0993


Monica Hubbard

Monica Hubbard is many things to many people. At Caltech, she conducted choirs in academic, church and community settings from 1966 to 1999. After leaving conducting, she opened a consulting practice for arts and social services nonprofits with a focus on board development and capacity-building, with clients such as the Pasadena Playhouse, Los Angeles County Arts Commission, the AIDS Service Center and Occidental College. In Altadena, her work with nonprofits and other community-based organizations earned her the title Citizen of the Year in 2014. “When I see people do good,” Monica once said, “I like to help them in any way possible.”


ArtNight Pasadena

They say that when it comes to casinos and gambling, there’re no free rides. But when it comes to art, just the opposite is true in Pasadena. ArtNight Pasadena, set for Friday, Oct. 13, are nights of free art, one in the spring and another in the fall, both of which feature some of the city’s most prominent arts and cultural institutions opening their doors to the public free of charge. Art lovers begin their journeys by parking at any of the participating venues, where free shuttles wait to transport them to their next destination. If you get a little hungry along the way, don’t worry. Enjoy delicious food from some of LA County’s favorite food trucks, with 10 percent of the proceeds going back into helping future ArtNights.

Reader Recommended

Latino Heritage Parade

Pasadena Art Walk |


Pasadena City Hall

100 N. Garfield Ave., Pasadena

(626) 744-4000 |

Even though it turns 90 this December, Pasadena City Hall has lost none of its original charm. In fact, considering all the dough invested in repair work that’s been done over the years on the six-story, 235-room Spanish Colonial Revival style structure, it’s a safe bet most would say it’s even more beautiful now than it’s ever been. For many years, the stunning structure has served as a backdrop to many, many television commercials, TV shows and films. The historic building is located in the heart of the city’s Civic Center District and in 1980 both it and the district were placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Reader Recommended

Colorado Street Bridge

Rose Bowl

1001 Rose Bowl Drive, Pasadena

(626) 577-3100



1200 E. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 395-6811 |

The mission of the California Institute of Technology, Caltech, is as unambiguous as it is impressive: “Expand human knowledge and benefit society through research integrated with education.” That’s a tall order, and to that end, scientists, mathematicians, engineers and students aren’t playing any games when they “investigate the most challenging, fundamental problems in science and technology in a singularly collegial, interdisciplinary atmosphere, while educating outstanding students to become creative members of society.” Having managed Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA and producing 33 Nobel Prize winners and 70 National Medal of Science or Technology winners since opening in 1891, it could be said the school achieves its mission with each new enrollment.

Reader Recommended

Fuller Theological Seminary

135 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena

(626) 584-5200 |

Pasadena City College

1570 E. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 585-7123 |


Kidspace Children’s

480 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-9144 |

No one wants to gamble with the minds of young kids, so Kidspace Children’s Museum provides growing children with an incredible incubator of educational opportunities for discovery in a learning environment filled with the wonder and joy of the natural world. By teaching children about respect, integrity, safety and experiential learning, Kidspace is able to fulfill its mission of nurturing the potential of all children through kid-driven experiences, inspiring them to become joyful, active learners.

Reader Recommended

Brookside Park

360 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 744-7311 |

Huntington Library, Art Collections, and Botanical Gardens

1151 Oxford Road, San Marino

(626) 405.2100 |


Union Station Homeless Services

825 E. Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 240-4550 |

There are a lot of people out there who took their best shots in life and came up short. That’s where Union Station comes in. You see, the thing is most homeless people we see on the streets are from here. Although the city’s taken huuuge steps over the years to bring down the number of homeless folks, the problem continues. But you can bet Union Station will be there to help, as it’s been since 1973, offering shelter from life’s storms, providing hot meals, good advice and other services.

Reader Recommended

Foothill Unity Center

191 N. Oak Ave., Pasadena

415 W. Chestnut Ave., Monrovia

(626) 358-3486

Friends In Deed

444 E. Washington Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 797-2402 |


Autism Speaks Walk

Autism Response Team:

(888) 288-4762

En Español: (888) 772-9050

Parents, grandparents, siblings, friends, relatives and supporters of people with autism are taking the gamble out of funding programs to help loved ones lead the best lives possible with events like the Autism Speaks Walk. This is the world’s largest autism fundraising event dedicated to improving the lives of people with autism. As they say, “Working together, there is no limit to what we can achieve.” And I believe ’em.

Pasadena Showcase House

(626) 578-8500

Now in its 53rd year, the Pasadena Showcase House of Design is one of the oldest, largest and most successful house and garden tours in the country. Each year, approximately 30,000 people visit the showcase house, and this year was no exception. This year, the featured home was the 7,479 square foot, 101-year-old English Tudor home on Arroyo Boulevard once owned by lawyer-turned-actor Samuel Hinds. This gorgeous home, featured in a number of film productions over the decades, was most recently seen in the multiple-award-winning film “La La Land.”


Junior League of


149 S. Madison Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-0244

Since its founding in 1901, the Junior League has evolved into one of the oldest, largest, and most effective women’s volunteer organizations in the world. Since 1926, the Junior League of Pasadena has been empowering women to roll the dice and go for broke in breaking barriers in order to build their futures and strengthen their communities. Over the years, the local league has been on the forefront of social reform by tackling a varied and lengthy list of issues, among them pollution, illiteracy, domestic violence and foster care, to name a few.

Reader Recommended

Assistance League of Pasadena

820 E. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-2068

Bloom Again Foundation

221 E. Walnut St., No. 245, Pasadena

(626) 405-7310 |

Pasadena Humane Society


361 S. Raymond Ave., Pasadena

(626) 792-7151


Michael Calderon, aka Mr. Pasadena

Michael Calderon is one of those guys who knows a little something about everything and everyone. This 48-year-old man about town, known to his friends as “Mr. Pasadena,” is a treasure trove of social life information, much of it derived from his association with According to his introduction on the website, Calderon is “That guy who always seems to know what is going on in Pasadena, recommending restaurants, places of interest and things to do in Pasadena. He loves Pasadena!” He also loves joining meetups, 13 currently. This is the second year in row Michael has won this coveted award. “There are always going to be a great group rate and a chance to meet new friends (or even better a chance to catch up with some old friends),” he says.


Norton Simon Museum

411 W. Colorado Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 449-6840 |

If you can believe it, the Norton Simon Museum, sitting near the corner of Colorado and Orange Grove boulevards, was once the only modern art museum in Southern California. Sheesh, that was three decades ago already. Today, the museum started by Academy Award-winning actress Jennifer Jones and her art-collecting husband Norton Simon contains one of most extensive and rarest art collections in the country.

Reader Recommended 

Pasadena Museum of
California Art

490 E. Union St., Pasadena

(626) 568-3665 |

Pasadena Museum of History

470 W. Walnut St., Pasadena

(626) 577-1660 |


Pasadena Conservatory of Music

100 N. Hill Ave., Pasadena

(626) 683-3355

With more than 1,200 students attending the school annually and over 3,000 students in schools throughout Pasadena benefitting from its extensive outreach programs, the Pasadena Conservatory of Music has conceivably come into the lives of just about every person in Pasadena since opening in 1984. The nationally accredited conservatory, which opened with the goal of teaching students of all skill levels to play music, offers a comprehensive curriculum for children and adults.

Reader Recommended

Altadena Academy of Music

2235 N. Lake Ave., No. 207, Altadena

(626) 296-0799

California College of Music

42 S. Catalina Ave., Pasadena

(626) 577-1751 |

Eliot Arts Magnet

2184 Lake Ave., Altadena

(626) 396-5680

Foothills Music Together

Pasadena Location

Westminster Presbyterian Church

1757 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 398-4159 |


Walker/Viden Luxury Consignment

1033 E. Green St., Pasadena

(626) 844-9244 |

First off, let’s define consignment, which is when an outside company sells your personal items using their network of customers and contacts in exchange for a consignment fee. The consignment fee is usually based on the value of the item to be sold. Capisce? OK, so with that understood, Walker/Viden Luxury Consignment specializes in finding the best sales outlet for your luxury items and working to get the highest market price possible. Simple. The difference between them and udder guys is Walker/Viuden takes the time needed to match items with interested buyers, resulting in higher prices for your precious stuff.

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Go Orthodontics

225 Allen Ave., Pasadena

(626) 500-0626

Full Circle Thrift Shop

2245 Lake Ave, Altadena

(626) 639-3051


Brookside Park

360 N. Arroyo Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 744-7311 |

What’s not to like about Brookside Park, where the Rose Bowl, the Rose Bowl Aquatic Center, Kidspace Children’s Museum, Brookside Golf Course and Jackie Robinson Field are all conveniently located? Plus, even if there are no gaming tables on the grounds, there are plenty of fitness trails, tennis courts and places to play soccer. Brookside, sometimes called Arroyo Terrace, was purchased by the city in 1912 and is one of Pasadena’s most popular recreation areas. It’s also the place where each year Rose Parade floats are put together and later viewed, at Rosemont Pavilion and Brookside Pavilion.

Reader Recommended

Eaton Canyon

Victory Park

2575 Paloma St., Pasadena

(626) 744-7500 |


Friendship Baptist Church

80 W. Dayton St., Pasadena

(626) 793-1062 |

Friendship Baptist Church, also known as Friendship Pasadena Church, was considered a longshot to win this category. Then again, the church has been around for a long, long time, so the juice is there and this honor seems only fitting, if not also long overdue. Located at the corner of South DeLacey Avenue and Dayton Street, a block away from the Pasadena Weekly offices, the church was built in 1925 for a large congregation that formed what was the first African American Baptist church in the city in 1893. The church, which was visited by the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., is the first African American-related cultural landmark in Pasadena. It is also recognized as a state of California landmark, and in 1978 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in the United States.

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All Saints Episcopal Church

132 N. Euclid Ave., Pasadena

(626) 796-1172 |

Lake Avenue Church

393 N. Lake Ave., Pasadena

(626) 844-4700 |


Integrity Lash

350 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena No. 290

626) 437-4000 |

Even though workers really enjoy what they do at Integrity Lash, they take their jobs pretty seriously. They see roughly 200 guests in a week’s time, and during their time in business have so far done more than over 40,000 lash applications, each administered with the customer’s complete comfort and confidence in mind. Plus, members of the talented team of lash designers are all state licensed, and the business itself is licensed by the Board of Barbering of Cosmetology, ensuring compliance with state sanitation and safety procedures and regulations. Hey, no one wants the cops horning in on their action, do they? So they play it better safe than sorry. Smart.

Reader Recommended

City of Pasadena

100 N. Garfield Ave., Pasadena

Jet Propulsion Laboratory

4800 Oak Grove Drive, Pasadena

(818) 354-4321


Mentor Avenue Preschool

308 N. Mentor Ave., Pasadena

(626) 396-7008

People say the nicest things sometimes, especially about winners. And many people did not spare the praise on Yelp for Mentor Avenue Preschool, a Christian preschool in Pasadena. According to its website, the school is “dedicated to providing quality early childhood education, while nurturing Christian Values,” to prepare little ones for kindergarten, elementary school, and beyond. Perhaps one former stay-at-home dad said it best: “This is where you want your kid to be if they can’t be with you,” said Michael N. “The teachers are caring and kind. It’s obvious that they love the kids.”

Reader Recommended

Goodman Family Daycare & Preschool

1090 El Campo Drive, Pasadena

(626) 578-1815

St. Edmunds Nursery School

1175 San Gabriel Blvd., San Marino

(626) 792-7742


High Point Academy

1720 Kinneloa Canyon Road, Pasadena

(626) 798-8989

The mission at High Point Academy, an independent, coeducational kindergarten through eighth-grade school, is ambitious and admirable. “Our mission,” according to the school’s website, “is dedicated to awakening the joy of learning in each student and inspiring every student to reach his/her fullest potential in a close-knit, nurturing, collaborative, and stimulating community of caring and learning.” Students here are encouraged to embrace creativity, critical thinking, communication/public speaking, character education, collaboration, and cross-cultural understanding.

Reader Recommended

Judson International School

1610 E. Elizabeth St., Pasadena

(626) 398-2476

Polytechnic School

1030 E. California Blvd., Pasadena

(626) 396-6300


Pasadena Police Reserve Officer Darrell McKenzie

Described by his friends as the kind of person who will give you the shirt off his back, Pasadena Police Reserve Officer Darrell McKenzie joined the Reserve Unit after completing the academy on June 13, 1986. Over his 31 years on the job, Darrell has logged over 12,000 hours of service to the city.  On the job, Darrell can apparently do it all, working patrol, on traffic issues such as drunk driving, and even undercover. Anyone who knows the man knows how lucky we all have been to have Darrell McKenzie working to keep us safe.


Pasadena City Councilman Tyron Hampton

Few other members of the Pasadena City Council know how to run a business like District 1 Councilman Tyron Hampton. A native of Pasadena and a product of its public school system, Tyron left a seat on the school board to run for one on the council, taking office two years ago. He comes from a family of entrepreneurs and participates in the family’s construction business. His city biography tells us that he “excels at managing general construction projects for both residential and commercial clientele,” with responsibilities that include “reading blueprints, design, scheduling projects, budgeting, purchasing and supervising up to 30-plus employees and subcontractors.” For all the residential development being approved by the council these days, it might not be a bad idea for some of his colleagues to tag along with Tyron during a day on the job, just to see what it really entails.


Jackson STEM Dual Language Magnet Academy

593 W. Woodbury Road, Altadena

(626) 396-5700

Placing strong emphasis on science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), Jackson offers an innovative academic program that nurtures the communication, collaboration, critical thinking and creative skills necessary to be a successful adult. Another return winner this year in our Best of Pasadena polling, Jackson also offers student an option to learn to read, write, and speak in both English and Spanish through participation in a Dual Language Immersion Program (DLIP). Of course, all students, according to the school’s website, benefit from their STEM academic focus and hands-on science laboratory.

Reader Recommended

Don Benito Fundamental School

3700 Denair St.,


(626) 396-5870

John Muir High School

1905 Lincoln Ave., Pasadena

(626) 396-5600 |


Yvonne Davis

Don Benito Elementary School

3700 Denair St., Pasadena

(626) 396-5870

If anyone looked at the voting in this category, one might surmise there was only one teacher in Pasadena, and that would be Don Benito Fundamental School kindergarten teacher Yvonne Davis. Administrators, kids, parents and other teachers like her. But teachers really like her, mainly because Mrs. Davis represents them at PTA meetings. Plus, she helps the principal lead monthly tours for parents of prospective students. If you could use one word to describe what it is that makes Mrs. Davis so special, that word might be passion. Another might be spirit. Yet another might be enthusiasm. Whatever you call it, Mrs. Davis will do whatever it takes to help students succeed.


Reading Partners Los Angeles

3452 E. Foothill Blvd., Pasadena

(213) 399-8599

This national education nonprofit is committed to helping kids become lifelong readers by empowering communities to provide individualized instruction with measureable results. Reading Partners works with elementary schools to support students who are reading at least six months below grade-level, with volunteers working one-on-one with students following a structured, research-validated curriculum. They have one simple goal, according to their website: “We envision a future in which all children in this nation have the reading skills they need,” states the site.

Reader Recommended


Test Prep Tutoring

845 Cordova St., Pasadena

(626) 639-8810