Carol Beradelli passes away

DOWNEY -- Carol Beradelli died peacefully Dec. 13 at the age of 83. She was born Feb. 15, 1930 in Pittsburgh, one of five daughters, to Frank and Mary Reti.

She married Henry Berardelli in 1947 and lived 55 years of life together. He predeceased her in 2002.

Carol was active in the Italian Catholic Federation of St. John Bosco Church in Bellflower.

She is survived by her daughter, Rita Marie Berardelli; sister, Mary Kirley; brother-in-law Brother Dominic Berardelli, FSC; and nieces and nephews Mary Kay and Michael Dragovich, and Ed and Connie Kirley, and families.

Visitation will be at Zrelak Mortuary in Downey on Friday, Dec. 20, from 4-8 p.m., with a prayer service and Rosary at 6 p.m.

The Mass of Resurrection will be at 10 a.m. Dec. 21 at Our Lady of Perpetual Help Church in Downey, with burial to follow at All Souls Cemetery in Long Beach. A reception will follow the burial.

Downey soccer club searching for new home

DOWNEY - A competitive youth soccer team is searching for a new practice facility in Downey after being temporarily relocated to Bell Gardens.

FC Golden State Downey was established in January 2013. The teams -- BU8, BU10 and BU11 -- practiced at Downey High School but lost use of the field at mid-year due to field renovations.

The club wasn't able to reclaim use of the field after renovations were completed, team officials said.

Despite their Downey name, FC Golden State now practices at Ford Park in Bell Gardens. The soccer club conducts three practices a week and also needs a field to host home games.

FC Golden State has had success, finishing near the top of their bracket in the Coast Soccer League and the CSL League Cup, but still hope to find a permanent facility in Downey.

"Until we are able to find a suitable home in Downey, we will continue to hold practice in the Ford Park facilities in Bell Gardens," said Carlos Valenciano, the team's head trainer. "Our hope is to return to Downey because this is where we want to be."

"Downey is a great place for FC Golden State to extend its reach to kids in the community as they know that there is lots of talent here and the surrounding cities," he added.

Schools or organizations interested in leasing their facility to FC Golden State can contact Carlos Valenciano at (562) 322-6669.

FC Golden State is an affiliate of FC Golden State Soccer Club, a Pasadena-based non-profit with 88 teams that serves boys and girls ages 5-19.

Try-outs for BU7 and BU12 will be held Jan. 6 at Ford Park. A development program is also available for beginning players.

Norwalk man charged for drug trafficking

NORWALK -- A 26-year-old Norwalk man has been indicted for his role in a drug trafficking network that allegedly smuggled in methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin from Mexico and distributed them throughout Southern California.

Juan Carlos Garcia, of Norwalk, was one of two dozen suspects named in an indictment returned by a federal grand jury Dec. 3. He remains a fugitive.

The indictment comes as authorities announced Operation Rosebud targeting the street gang known as "Vario Pasadena Rifa" (VPR) whose members are known to distribute large quantities of meth in Pasadena and surrounding areas in the San Gabriel Valley, authorities said.

VPR operated through a network of suppliers that facilitied the deliver of pure methamphetamine from Sinaloa, Mexico through southwest states and ultimately to local destinations.

The task force seized more than 60 pounds of meth, six pounds of tar heroin and five pounds of powder cocaine. The drugs had an estimated street value of $2.5 million.

Authorities also seized four vehicles and approximately $40,000 cash.

Garcia is charged with conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute controlled substances; possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine; use of a telephone to facilitate a felony drug offense; aiding and abetting; and criminal forfeiture.

Christmas decorating contest winners

DOWNEY - Winners have been announced for Downey's newly revamped 2013 Holiday Home Decorating Contest.

Contestants competed in the category of their choice, with Parks and Recreation commissioners and their spouses serving as judges. An awards ceremony was held Monday at City Hall.

A total of 40 homes won awards; homes that won Best Overall or Honorable Mention received signs to display in their yard.

In each of the four judging areas, one Mayor's Award was awarded to the home with the highest score in that area. These homes received a trophy.

This year's winners included:

Area 1 (east of Downey Ave., south of Firestone Blvd.)

Best Use of Lights: 8602 Nada St. (Honorable Mention: 8503 Dalen St.) Best Lawn Display: 8535 Fontana St. (Honorable Mention: 12903 Airpoint Ave.) Best Religious Display: 2246 Eastbrook Ave Christmas Tree Window Display: 9006 Margaret St. (Honorable Mention: 12049 Patton Rd.) Mayor's Award: 8402 Conklin St.

Area 2 (west of Downey Ave., south of Firestone Blvd.)

Best Use of Lights: 7619 Nada St. (Honorable Mention: 7826 Devenir Ave.) Best Lawn Display: 7414 Luxor St. (Honorable Mention: 7852 Brookmill Rd.) Most Energy Efficient: 7920 Melva St. (Honorable Mention: 7964 Borson St.) Best Religious Display: 7614 Yankey St. (Honorable Mention: 11603 Haro Ave.) Winter Wonderland: 12065 S. Gurley Ave. Most Original Holiday Display: 12353 Horley Ave. (Honorable Mention: 7453 Benares St.) Christmas Tree Window Display: 7104 Nada St. Mayor's Award: 12023 Morning Ave.

Area 3 (west of Downey Ave., north of Firestone Blvd.)

Best Use of Lights: 7629 4th Place (Honorable Mention: 7359 Via Rio Nido) Best Lawn Display: 9912 Norlian Ave. Most Energy Efficient: 7827 8th St. Winter Wonderland: 10324 Pomering Rd. (Honorable Mention: 9922 Norlain Ave.) Most Original Holiday Display: 10318 Pomering Rd. (Honorable Mention: 7521 Cleargrove Dr.) Christmas Tree Window Display: 8125 7th St. Apt A Mayor's Award: 7504 Muller St.

Area 4 (east of Downey Ave., north of Firestone Blvd.)

Best Use of Lights: 8537 Via Amorita, (Honorable Mention: 9444 Sideview Dr.) Best Lawn Display: 8517 Lubec St. (Honorable Mention: 9906 Brookshire Ave.) Best Religious Display: 10221 Newville Ave. Santa's Workshop: 10945 Hasty Ave. (Honorable Mention: 8564 Suva St.) Winter Wonderland: 9384 Suva St. Most Original Holiday Display: 10903 Hasty Ave. (Honorable Mention: 8358 Lubec St.) Christmas Tree Window Display: 11018 Marbel Ave. (Honorable Mention: 9220 Arrington) Mayor's Award: 10257 Mattock Ave.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Downey teens special guests at Teen Nick awards

DOWNEY - Downey students were invited as special guests to the Teen Nick HALO Awards earlier this month, a television special that recognizes teens making a difference in their community.

Members of Downey High School's KIWIN'S club, along with Builders Club students from Griffiths, Sussman and Doty middle schools, were invited to the awards ceremony after they were featured in a video performing a service project at Hollydale Park.

The Downey kids met celebrities and interacted with other teens who are also working to improve their communities.

"After the awards, Downey students were inspired to return to their respective schools and get to work," said Alex Gaytan, a teacher and KIWIN'S Club advisor. "They challenged their fellow club members to create a project that addresses an issue facing our community. These young leaders hope to be nominated for next year's HALO Awards and receive $20,000 to fund a project that they are passionate about."

Nominations for next year's HALO Awards are already being accepted online at Deadline for nominations is Dec. 31.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Gutierrez takes over as school board president

DOWNEY - William A. Gutierrez, who has served as a member of the board of the Downey United School District since December of 2000, was voted president on Tuesday, succeeding Donald E. LaPlante. Gutierrez was board vice-president this past year.For the 55-year old Gutierrez, this will be his second time to serve as DUSD board president, having once before served in the same capacity in 2006-07. He was a successful participant in last month's grueling Ironman Arizona triathlon competitions held in Tempe, as he finished his 2.4 mile swim, 112-mile bike ride , 26.2-mile endurance test well within its stipulated time of completion, as part of his health regimen and "for fun." Voted also to serve as board vice-president was Tod Corrin, while D. Mark Morris was tapped as clerk. During his tenure as president in the past year, La Plante, who has served for nearly 35 years on the board of education and has served as DUSD board president several times, led the board through some significant events, most notably the hiring of Dr. John Garcia as new superintendent and the ushering in of the beginnings of the first school funding reform in 40 years in the state of California. He was also inducted, along with school board members Barbara Samperi and Nancy Swenson, into the newly-created Warren High School Hall of Fame. Offering their congratulations to LaPlante for his year of service were current and past local city officials led by mayor Mario Garcia in his "last act as city mayor," along with representatives from state and federal congressional offices. Looking ahead, Gutierrez said that he looks forward to the upcoming year and the "exciting challenges" that the district faces, especially the district's transition to the new Common Core State Standards and a thorough review of its facilities in relationship to 21st Century teaching and learning. Finally, he said that "the upcoming year of service to our students, teachers, and support staff will be the new focus of my energies, and I know we have a winning team."

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Gustavo Morales joins Air Force

DOWNEY - Air Force Reserve Airman 1st Class Gustavo A. Morales graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland in San Antonio.Morales completed an intensive eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills. He also earned four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force. Morales is the son of Downey residents Roger and Carmina Morales. He is a 1997 graduate of Downey High School.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Realtors host blanket, toy drive

DOWNEY - Coldwell Banker Dynasty is hosting a blanket and toy drive through Dec. 20.Blankets will be distributed to the local homeless population while toy donations will benefit needy families. Donations can be dropped off at the real estate offices at 8255 Firestone Blvd.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Dangerous turn

Dear Editor:There have been many complaints about the snug, inadequate parking at the new Downey Gateway food court but I haven't noticed anyone take note of a related danger: drivers turning left from the parking lot onto Downey Avenue. Not only are drivers crossing two lanes of traffic to complete this dangerous turn, but often times they only make it halfway and end up blocking traffic heading south on Downey Avenue. A similar situation exists outside Pep Boys on Lakewood Boulevard, with cars attempting to turn left (north) onto Lakewood. I propose the city make left turns illegal from the parking lot onto Downey Avenue and Lakewood. This will help traffic and probably prevent an accident, if there hasn't been one already. Mayra Cabrajal Doweny

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Paging Dr. Frischer - Healthy Eating

A recent Gallup poll succeeded in shocking me. It found that healthful eating is at its lowest point since 2008. Considering the resurgence of quinoa, organic foods, specialty markets, etc., I honestly would have expected a different result. However, the survey found that for every month during 2013, Americans reported they were eating worse than during the same month in 2012. Some of the reasons given included economics and the recent recession (making fast food "dollar menus" look attractive), along with the rising cost of fruits and vegetables. Just what is a "good" or "bad" diet? Planning a business lunch recently, I carefully took into account those who were lactose free, gluten free, was quite a challenge, and one is not necessarily better than another. Nonetheless, it is clear to all of us that soda, candy, doughnuts, Wonder Bread and Oreos generally don't hit that high bar for excellence in nutrition. What we eat has a significant impact on our health. Here are some helpful suggestions to help you get a healthy start for the new year: *Avoid "white' foods, "fast" foods, and "fried" foods. Choose items that are as close to their natural state as possible. *Carbohydrates should be our main food source. "Simple" carbohydrates include white bread, white rice, white pasta, and sugar products. However, these simple carbohydrates wreak havoc on our ability to regulate sugar levels, and are generally empty calories. On the other hand, vegetables, fruits and whole grains represent far more nutritious complex carbohydrates. *Protein is a necessary part of our diet. Protein is abundant in meat, ice cream and cheese. Of course, these sources of protein are high in calories and artery-clogging saturated fats. More reasonable protein sources include fish, beans, nuts, low-fat dairy, poultry, soy, and quinoa. *Fats have a bad reputation, but are nonetheless necessary. They typically make up about 30% of the calories in the typical American diet; 20% would be desirable. Saturated fats come from animal sources such as meat, cheese, ice cream, butter and eggs, as well as palm kernel oil. They contribute to plugged arteries, heart disease and strokes. Focus instead on unsaturated fats, found in olive oil, avocados, peanut butter, rapeseed oil, canola oil, nuts and seeds. A healthier diet needn't take more effort. Always look for 100% whole grains. Choose foods as close to their natural state as possible; most processed foods offer reduced nutritional value. I have heard the excuses for using processed or fast foods: "I don't have the time," "I'm only cooking for one." But remember that it is now easier than ever to buy bags of pre-washed vegetables, fish and chicken filets for the freezer, and many more simple alternatives. Make more thoughtful choices when food shopping during this coming year, and your body will reward you! Dr. Alan Frischer is former chief of staff and former chief of medicine at Downey Regional Medical Center. Write to him in care of this newspaper at 8301 E. Florence Ave., Suite 100, Downey, CA 90240.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Cerritos College Foundation issues scholarships

NORWALK - The Cerritos College Foundation recently awarded thousands of dollars worth of scholarships to local students, including some from Downey.

Below is a round-up of scholarship recipients:

The $500 Granada Family Scholarship to Lorelie Roska of Bellflower.

"I promise to continue working hard and look forward to the day I can give back to students working toward achieving their goals, just as the Granada Family has helped me," said Roska as she received the scholarship.

The mechanical engineering major plans to transfer to California State University, Long Beach next fall.

The scholarship was established by siblings Evelyn Granada-Enriquez, Erlinda Granada-Sabah, Manuel Granada, and Roy Granada to provide financial support to a Cerritos College student of Filipino ethnicity.

Student Allegra Celestine of Los Angeles received two scholarships, the first being the $1,000 HAB Bank Business Scholarship which was established in 2004 by HAB Bank to recognize outstanding business students. The bank's Chief Operating Officer Saleem Iqbal serves as a Cerritos College Foundation board member.

The second scholarship was the $1,000 Jean O Michael Scholarship which was established in honor of Jean Michael, wife of retired Cerritos College President Dr. Wilford Michael. This scholarship is awarded annually to a female re-entry student majoring in business.

Celestine is a re-entry student pursuing her degree in business management. She plans on transferring to California State University, Dominguez Hills next fall to pursue her bachelor's degree. Celestine has always enjoyed cooking and dreams of opening her own catering business. She looks forward to giving back to the community.

"I am so grateful for these scholarships, it is such a blessing to me and my family," Celestine said.

Student Daniel Rizo Jacobo of Compton received the $500 John Moore First Step Scholarship, which was established by John Moore, a now-retired 19-year member of the Cerritos College Board of Trustees to give others the opportunity he received and to help first semester college students who show promise of success.

Moore grew up in south central Los Angeles and never imagined that he would go to college. He was lucky enough to be the recipient of a scholarship right out of high school that gave him the boost he needed.

Jacobo is in his first semester at Cerritos College. Throughout high school, he took multiple AP and honors courses such as calculus, chemistry and government and ranked 70 out of a class of 1,154 students earning a high school GPA of 3.7. The computer science major hopes to transfer to the University of California, Berkeley in the fall of 2015.

Physical Therapist Assistant Program Chair Julie Bathke presented the $500 Mark and Barnett Chen Physical Therapy Scholarship to Sage Crum of Long Beach.

Crum is in his second year of the Physical Therapist Assistant program. He has already earned his bachelor's degree in kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton and worked in a variety of health fields before returning to school including developing gymnastics and swimming programs for children with autism.

"Your support inspires and motivates me to give back to those in need," said Crum as he received the award.

This scholarship was established in 2009 by Angela Lindstrom to honor her parents, Mark & Barnett Chen. Each year the scholarship is awarded to an outstanding student in the PTA program and Nursing program.

Students Melanie Brebaugh of Paramount, Mayra Jimenez of Downey and Halyna Le from Garden Grove received the $500 Alice Wang Scholarship which was established in honor of Alice Wang, the wife of Foundation board member J.P. Wang.

The Wangs actively support academic endeavors of low-income students through scholarships. Annually, six $500 scholarships are awarded to single mothers who major in Child Development, or other students who demonstrate outstanding academics.

"The financial generosity of Mr. J.P. and Alice Wang has allowed me to get one step closer to my goal and has motivated me to put my best efforts into helping others by giving back to the community," said Le.

The Ameripec, Inc. Scholarship was established by the Wangs' family friends Ping and Norma Wu, who were inspired by the Wangs' commitment to education and student success. The Wu's established a scholarship last year to provide financial support to Cerritos College students formerly in the foster care system.

Yvette Tafoya, assistant director of EOPS, presented the $500 scholarships to Tommy Diaz of Downey, Joshua Mazyck of Cerritos and Junely Merwin of Downey.

Students Scarlett Hernandez and Maelianne Washington of Bellflower received the Bellflower Noon Lions Club Scholarship which recognizes students who have lived, worked or attended school in the city of Bellflower. The recipients were awarded $1,000 each in recognition of their community service and involvement.

The scholarship was presented by Club Member and Cerritos College Foundation Chairman Dr. Eric Ikeda.

Hernandez is a liberal arts major who has always enjoyed working with children. She recently completed an internship at the Cerritos College Child Development Center. Hernandez is in the college's Teacher TRAC program and will be transferring to California State University, Long Beach next fall to pursue her bachelor's degree and would like to one day teach preschool or elementary school.

Automotive management and marketing major Washington is completing her first semester at Cerritos College. While in high school, she competed in the Senior Automotive Competition earning a second place finish. Washington is active in her church and has volunteered in numerous ministries. She would eventually like to earn a bachelor's degree from Northwood University at Cerritos College and own a Chrysler dealership.

The recipients of the Cheryl A. Epple Memorial Scholarship were Eduardo De La Rosa of Artesia and Stephanie Martinez of Whittier.

Sean Cervantes of Downey received the $1,800 Carmen Solis Pratt Scholarship, established by retired Norwalk Superior Court Judge Dan Pratt established the Carmen Solis Pratt Re-Entry Scholarship in 2001 in memory of his mother who valued education, but was never able to attend college herself.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Camping and the Psycho Deer

Nsa Nsa grew up in Nigeria where it was not his custom to go camping. His wife was Canadian and she loved the outdoor activities in North America. This is Nsa's account of what happened during a family visit to Yosemite. Shared Stories is a weekly column featuring articles from a writing class held every Thursday at the Norwalk Senior Center. Curated by Carol Kearns

I was never the camping type. I was always the city boy. The idea of driving so many miles just to find a space in the woods to set up a tent had never crossed my mind. I'm a Nigerian and I have seen what types of critters and animals you can encounter in the woods, and I do not think about sharing space with them.

I had always believed in the animals keeping their distance and me keeping mine. As long as we did not cross that line, then life was fine.

All of a sudden I got married, and believe it or not, from then on my life wasn't mine anymore. Rather, I became a family man and was thinking like one. My wife was from Montreal, Canada, and her family grew up camping and traveling. That's how they wound up in Downey, California, and continued with their free-spirited outdoor activities.

We met, got married, and the rest was history. Now, one cannot make a decision without the other. Everything was a joint decision, and boy, did she ever find ample opportunity to sell me on the idea of going camping and how refreshing camping can be.

I agreed on one condition: we would spend our first camping experience together in a motel in the area, and while we were there, we would research the camp grounds and sites for our next camping trip. Even though that suggestion did not appeal to her, she went along anyways. So, kudos; one up for me.

We set out for Yosemite and we decided to stop at a day campsite where we could feed the kids before going back to check into our motel. As we pulled into the camp area, there were signs posted everywhere which stated, "Please do not feed or pet the animals."

You would think that any reasonable individual who could read would know that those signs were posted for their safety. I hate it when people act stupid, because I can see a lady with her three young kids putting her children's lives in danger by trying to get closer to the animals. This is no zoo, people; this is the wild out here! The animals are in their natural habitat and we are the intruders.

I can feel my blood pressure mounting after seeing this family still acting stupid, and my wife knew I was furious about something. She asked me what the problem was, and I told her to look out my window. By this time I felt the family was too close for comfort, and I blurted out: "Woman, are you stupid or something? If you have a death wish, why don't you do it without your children!"

Even the animals were thinking, "Look at these stupid humans coming to say hello. They must not be from around here, but we will let them live if they feed us or we can have fun with them."

I kept driving until I found us an open day campsite that was not taken. As we pulled up and were getting ready to get out, we had a welcoming committee. Two deer were approaching us, so I asked everybody to get back into the van until they left. But the deer came right up to the van with one on either side of the vehicle.

They had their routine down and we were trapped in the van. At this point the kids were complaining about being hungry, and my sister-in-law decided to reach into the ice chest and hand the kids sandwiches. The adults decided to wait.

The moment the deer saw the kids eating sandwiches, they started pawing and stomping on the doors of the van. So my sister-in-law took the sandwiches back from the children and put them away. At last the deer stopped playing the drums on my van doors.

I started the engine and was trying to leave when the deer started circling the van. Because I did not want to run them over, I stopped my engine. At this point the kids were crying because they wanted to eat.

I decided to improvise by asking the kids to take off their seatbelts and drop down on the floor of the van. My sister-in-law handed them their sandwiches and covered them up with a blanket. The deer suspected that something was amiss and started playing music on my van doors again. It was at this time that I found my window of opportunity to speed out of there. Now I could see why that spot was not taken.

Aside from that encounter, the rest of the camping went just fine. After that incident, I decided to change camp areas from Yosemite to Big Sur. At Big Sur, the beach is only five minutes away and there were no wild animals around the camp sites - outside of the campers' pets (dogs).

I would say now that camping is good and fun. Try it when you can for a lifetime experience. Lastly, research your campgrounds before booking. Happy camping!

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Downey Police cracking down on DUIs

DOWNEY - A DUI and driver's license checkpoint is planned at an undisclosed location in Downey on Friday, Dec. 20, between 8 p.m. and 3 a.m.The checkpoint is part of an anti-drunk driving program being administered by Downey Police after receiving a $40,000 grant from the California Office of Traffic Safety. Twenty-seven people were hurt in Downey last year as a result of alcohol- or drug-impaired vehicle collisions. "In addition to DUI and driver's license checkpoints, you will also see us making lots of stops during this highly visible enforcement period," said Police Chief Carl Charles. "If we suspect anyone is driving while under the influence, officers will show zero tolerance for drunk or drugged driving." Data shows that December is a particularly deadly time due to the increased number of drunk drivers on the road. Nationally between 2007 and 2011, there were 4,169 people killed during the month of December in crashes that involved drivers with blood alcohol concentrations of .08 percent or higher. In California during those same five Decembers, 505 people were killed and thousands seriously injured. The Downey Police Department offered the following tips to be safe during the holidays: *Even one drink can impair your judgment and increase the risk of getting arrested for driving drunk, or worse, crashing while driving *If you will be drinking, do not plan on driving. Plan ahead; designate a sober driver before the party begins *If you have been drinking, do not drive. Call a taxi, phone a sober friend or family member, or use public transportation *Be responsible. If someone you know is drinking, do not let that person get behind the wheel. *If you see an impaired driver on the road, contact law enforcement. Your actions may save someone's life, and inaction could cost a life.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Warren High students win video challenge

DOWNEY - Warren High School engineering students Michelle Tulean, Ike Enenmoh and Dereck Bejarano have won an international video competition that challenged high school students to use science, technology, engineering and math skills "to develop the products of tomorrow."The "Make the World More Awesome Video Challenge" by the Conrad Foundation's Spirit of Innovation asked students to make a three-minute video explaining how they can "Be More Awesome." Student teams competed for awards and recognition, including a chance to attend the annual Innovation Summit. The Warren High students - competing as Team Dynamic Minds Inc. - competed against teams internationally and from the United States. Their video, "An Awesome World," will be played at the 2014 Conrad Spirit of Innovation Summit in April at the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston. The video can also be viewed online at

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Church service offers message of hope

DOWNEY - Downey United Methodist Church is holding its annual Longest Night Service on Dec. 21 at 7 p.m. to reach those in the community who are suffering with loss during the holidays."The Longest Night Service is not about telling people that they should cheer up. It is not about trying to brighten people's mood," said Pastor Jon Wesley Waterson. "It is about acknowledging that the 'bells and whistles' of the Christmas season do not make everyone happy. Ultimately, it is a service about hope. Downey UMC holds this service on Dec. 21 - the longest night of the year - to symbolize "that the light of God is about to overcome the darkness that many people are experiencing." The service will include advent candle lighting, music, prayer and a short sermon. Everyone is welcome. The service has a contemplative feel, with an emphasis on music and prayer. After the service, anyone that wishes will be invited to stay a while for snacks and fellowship or more reflection and prayer. Pastor Jon will also remain after the service for anyone who wants to talk or pray. Downey United Methodist Church is located at 10801 Downey Ave.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

5 Questions: Kelley Roberts

"5 Questions" is an occasional feature in which we ask five questions of Downey business and community leaders. This week's participant is Kelley Roberts, construction chairman for the Downey Rose Float Association.

1.) This is your 35th year as a volunteer with Downey Rose Float. How did you get started?

When I was 10 years old my neighbor and his sister were going down to decorate this thing called a parade float, it sounded like fun. I asked my parents if I could go, they said no, because I was on restriction, so I stormed off to my room and shut my door. Then I proceeded to sneak out the window, jump over the neighbors fence onto the next block, where my neighbor and his sister met me, and I went to check this thing out.

I ended up staying down there for six hours, not realizing that within 10 minutes of me leaving, my parents were aware of where I was at. So when I snuck back into the room, they were happily waiting for me. And after a little discussion, they said that I could have been doing something worse with my time, and let me go back the next day. This time I used the front door.

And 35 years later, I'm still here...where I have been in charge of and personally helped build more than 20 floats and counting as construction chairman.

2.) Have the floats changed much since you first started volunteering?

They have gotten much better in all aspects. The overall look and feel has evolved from when I started - from the architectural aspects, fine detail of construction, newer materials that will provide a fine line allowing for more intricate decoration. In addition to the construction, the animation has become more elaborate over the years. Also, the artistic shaping of metal allows for a cleaner look, and the elaborate floral arrangements definitely make more of a statement.

With the Downey Rose Float Association, we were the transforming float (which transforms from a 1800's carriage to an entire Mardi Gras scene). As Construction Chairman, we were the first self-built to design, construct and ride a working roller coaster and we were the first self-built to have a stunt show on a float. We were also the first self-built to design, build and ride a working water slide on a float.

We can keep up with the commercial float companies, provided we had the same funds available.

3.) Can you tell us a little bit about the 2014 float?

The theme of the parade is "Dreams Come True". The dream that many people can relate to is finding their perfect fit. Appropriately themed "The Glass Slipper" designed by Jason Redfox, Jeff Shadic, Thom Neighbors and myself will be the 62nd consecutive entry by the DRFA.

The float will be 28 feet high, 18 feet wide and 50 feet long, decorated with flowers that will come from all over the world. An estimated 10,000 roses in an array of colors will surround the staircase and columns. There is a fountain located in the center of the float that will have orchids appearing as water, and hydrangeas will compliment the piece. In addition to the floral, sweet rice, jasmine rice, barley, orange lentil, green peas, onion seed and several types of moss - sheet moss, mood moss and ming moss will be used on this years' float.

4.) How can residents get involved?

There are so many ways to get involved in the Association. The best way this time of year is to come down to the float site during decoration week. The float site is located at 13030 Erickson in Downey. Decoration week starts December 26 to December 31 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m.

5.) January 2 must be a giant relief for you. How do you celebrate?

January 2 isn't a relief. January 2 I bring the float back from Victory Park to Embassy Suites, where I stay the next few days, while the float is on display.

Usually January 6 is my official day to celebrate by sleeping and watching way too much TV. Last year I "celebrated" by overseeing rehabilitation of Knott's Berry Farm's Timber Mountain Log Ride, which re-opened in May. January 6, 2014 I will celebrate by being one of the project managers of the major rehabilitation of the Calico Mine Ride. Interview by Eric Pierce

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35

Downey's Erin Freeman commits to Utah State

DOWNEY - Downey High School senior and four star tennis recruit Erin Freeman has announced she will attend Utah State.During her senior season at Downey, Freeman recorded 23 wins over other four-star recruits to earn a ranking of No. 123 in the country. "Erin hits a very heavy ball and has unlimited potential as a college player," said Utah State women's tennis head coach Sean McInerney. "She has already proven that she can beat a very high-caliber player, and I am very excited for this program to take her game to the next level. She will be a great teammate and will be an immediate contributor to our program." Freeman cited her relationship with McInerney as a deciding factor in choosing Utah State. "I really like Coach McInerney," she said. "I believe he is the right coach for me and can push me to the next level. I think we hit it off, and I hope the relationship continues to grow." "I chose Utah State because I felt like it was a good fit for me," Freeman added. "I really like that I have the opportunity to be the start of the turn of the program, and I think that working with Coach McInerney we will have a great season." Freeman plans on majoring in exercise science.

********** Published: Dec. 12, 2013 - Volume 12 - Issue 35