"Celebrating our 50th Year"
of the 2016 Laguna Beach Patriot's Day Parade
Our grand marshal of this year’s parade needs no introduction to the people of Laguna Beach.
Former Mayor Kelly Boyd’s roots go back to his great-grandfather who was the first settler
of what became Laguna Beach along the banks of Aliso Creek. Kelly Harding
Boyd was born in 1944 and went through Laguna’s school system beginning with
the old elementary school across from the high school. After El Morro was completed in the
mid-1950s, he transferred there. Although he played football in high school, his passion
was surfing at St. Ann’s and Brooks where at age thirteen he won the won the Junior Brooks
Street competition in 1957 on a Hobie surfboard. Graduating in 1962, he attended
Orange Coast College and later the University of Southern California. American
involvement in the war in Vietnam was growing rapidly, and in February 1965 he received
his draft notice.
Kelly underwent basic training at Fort Polk in Louisiana followed by specialist training on the
M40 106-millimeter recoilless rifle. He arrived in Vietnam in late 1965 as an individual
replacement and was assigned to the 2nd Battalion of the 1st Infantry Division, the
famed Big Red One, then operating north of Saigon. Because the M40 was not being
used in theater, he was assigned to be a radio operator to his company commander. Over the
next twelve months, the division participated in some eight major operations, which
kept his unit almost continually in the field conducting sweeps, often being dropped off
from helicopters into hostile areas. He received three campaign stars on his Vietnam Service
Medal plus a unit citation of the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry with palm and the Vietnam
Civil Action Unit citation. More importantly as he reflects today, “I was shot at… but never shot.”
However, it was a different kind of operation there that brought him attention in his home town.
One day, he was riding with the company first sergeant when they came across an
orphanage run by Vietnamese nuns near the division’s base camp. “We saw the problems---
especially the lack of clothing---and decided to do all we could.” He wrote back to
Laguna’s Rotary with a request for help. Aided by newspaper coverage, there was a large
response for “Kelly’s Kids.” The difficulty came in getting the stuff shipped there during
the heat of a war. The problem was eventually solved when a congressman intervened
to get the humanitarian aid under way.
Returning home in late 1966, Kelly went to work for his dad at Bob Boyd’s French Restaurant
on Coast Highway where Nick’s is now. He then went on to be Dick Toomey’s manager at
Reef Liquor and later as a troubleshooter for a large restaurant chain. In 1978,
some of his fellow Rotarians convinced him that his experience and long roots in the
community made him a good candidate for city council. Soon after being elected, he
was in the thick of problem solving for the disastrous Bluebird Canyon landslide.
One night after a meeting, he retreated to the old Ivy House, hangout of Laguna’s
famous cartoonists, where he met a captivating young woman named Michelle Vierstra.
She took on the irrepressible Kelly along with the responsibility of helping raise his children,
Sean and Shana who would bless them with three grandchildren. This year, they will
celebrate thirty-four years of marriage.
A entrepreneurial spirit then began working on Kelly in the form of a venerable
Laguna institution, the Marine Room. It had been founded in 1934 by the father
of its owner, Walt Elderman, on a nautical theme rather than that of its many
patrons who happened to be U.S. Marines. By 1987, Kelly had persuaded Walt
to sell his interest, and for the next twenty-five years, he and Michelle would make it into
an iconic landmark of local culture including showcasing original music
composed and performed by numbers of talented Lagunans.
In 2006, Kelly successfully ran again for city council, and eventually would serve twice as mayor.
As it had earlier, Bluebird Canyon experienced another landslide adjacent to the old one,
and as before, Kelly was instrumental in having the geology made safe and
streamlining the rebuilding process. Another issue that Kelly led was Laguna’s
effort to care for its homeless persons. Although the situation often seemed intractable,
working together with Laguna’s church and civic groups led to the creation of the
Alternate Sleeping Location, a safe and secure place in Laguna Canyon. Other issues
included the landmark view preservation ordinance. Most recently he supported
matching funds for the renovation of the Laguna Art Museum and the Playhouse,
both vital Laguna institutions. Today, he also serves as chairman of the board
of the non-profit Laguna Beach County Water District. An avid golfer at Ben Brown’s,
Kelly helped found the annual Laguna Spring Classic. Kelly Boyd is a true son of
Laguna Beach, who by his selfless service to nation and community, has exemplified
the goals of the Patriots Day Parade. We are proud to have him as our Grand Marshal.
The 2016 Laguna Beach Parade
Honored Patriot of the Year
Marine Lieutenant Colonel Carlos K. McAfee
This honor is given to a citizen of Laguna Beach who has served the nation gallantly or meritoriously
in time of war or national emergency. Our honored patriot, Carlos McAfee, holds the rarely awarded
Navy Cross, which is our nation’s second highest decoration in the naval service for gallantry in combat.
Carlos K. McAfee was born in 1933 in Sapulpa, Oklahoma and grew up in Oklahoma City.
In 1951 as the Korean War was in full spate, he won an appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy
with the expectation that his class would be graduated early to serve there. The war ended
in a truce two years later, and in 1955 following the normal four year progression, he accepted
a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps.. This was a period of rising
nuclear tension between the Soviet Union and the United States, and Carlos embarked
on a dual career path in artillery and intelligence. His first overseas tour was on Okinawa
where he served as a battery commander. This was followed by three years as a gunnery
instructor at Fort Sill in his native Oklahoma, where he taught not only U.S. forces
but classes from NATO and other allied countries as well.
In 1965 he was sent to language school to learn Vietnamese prior to a prospective tour as an artillery
advisor to the Army of the Republic of Vietnam. Instead, after arriving in country in the
Fall of 1965, he became an operations briefer to General Westmoreland, the senior
American officer there. After four months, Carlos learned that that a Marine advisor to the Vietnamese
Marine Brigade had been killed in action. Carlos volunteered to take his place. Serving initially
with the artillery, he soon joined the brigade’s 5th Marine Battalion as an infantry advisor.
On June 12th, 1966, then Captain McAfee was with the unit’s leading elements when they became heavily
engaged with a superior enemy force during which the battalion commander and other key personnel were killed.
His citation for the Navy Cross goes on:
“Captain McAfee, the only American remaining, was instrumental in reforming the shattered
command and organizing the defense. He requested tactical air support, and with complete disregard
for his own personal safety, stationed himself under the direct fire of the enemy in
order to direct and adjust air strikes and artillery fire. Despite continued enemy fire of automatic
weapons, machine guns, mortars and grenades, Captain McAfee directed the medical
evacuation helicopters into his area to receive wounded. He moved continually between the
helicopter landing area and the defense perimeter, directing the medical evacuation and
adjusting air strikes and artillery support. After three hours of intense fighting, reinforcements
arrived and were led by Captain McAfee on a counterattack. Through his valiant efforts,
he prevented the possible annihilation of a Marine battalion by a numerically superior enemy
force, and his courageous direction of the medical evacuation undoubtedly saved many lives.
Captain McAfee's selfless devotion to duty, quick acceptance of responsibility, and great
personal courage reflected credit upon himself and the Marine Corps and were in keeping with
the highest traditions of the United States Naval Service.”
He returned to the artillery regiment at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina and then was selected
for advanced studies in operations research at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey.
In July of 1970 he returned to Vietnam as a major where he took command of a reinforced
artillery battalion that was spread out over a half dozen fire support bases south of Danang.
He led the unit in combat until it was withdrawn from country the following Spring. Other
awards for his service in Vietnam include a Legion of Merit with Combat” V”; a Bronze Star Medal
with Combat “V”; and the Vietnam Cross of Gallantry. He returned to Camp Pendleton,
was promoted to lieutenant colonel, and spent his last four years in the Corps developing
modern command and control systems for the future.
After retiring in 1975, he joined Hughes Aircraft and continued working on command and control
developments. He spent the next seventeen years in Israel and in Brussels, Belgium
home of NATO headquarters, implementing these state of the art systems. It was in
Tel Aviv that he met his future wife Waltraud, a native of Germany. This year the couple
will celebrate their 37th anniversary. Retiring initially to Laguna Niguel, Waltraud fell in
love with the modern architecture of the late Mark Singer in Laguna Beach. That led
them to decide to build their own home from a Singer design at Top of the World. About
the same time, Carlos began working with the Laguna Beach Police Department in
its citizen volunteer program. Full retirement did not appeal to either of them, and they
found themselves searching for an experience to counter their previously serious lives,
something that they could do together simply for fun. It would take the form
of the acting bug and Hollywood. Over some eight years, Carlos estimates they appeared
perhaps sixty times as extras, in bit parts, and in commercials where they rubbed shoulders
with actors like Tom Hanks and Gary Sinise. Despite these diversions, there is a
saying in the Corps: “Once a Marine, always a Marine.”
Although he wishes no attention on himself, we remember that on one particular day a
half century ago, Carlos McAfee was called upon to save his fellow warriors trapped
in circumstances so dire that few can imagine them. We honor him this year,
and by extension, all those whose selfless acts of heroism remain unknown.
The 2016 Laguna Beach Parade
Honored Citizen of the Year
The Citizen of the Year Award is given to persons who have made significant contributions
to the people and community of Laguna Beach. This year we honor Stu Saffer, community
volunteer, journalist, editor, and publisher who has so greatly enhanced civility and public
discourse over many years in a town known for the diversity of its citizens and their viewpoints.
Few in the field of local journalism have faced the challenges he has encountered.
Stu was born in 1942 in Washington, DC and grew up in Middleburg in rural Virginia, the
youngest of four children. His father was the town’s doctor who would die when Stu was
only eleven. In years to come, Stu was inspired by the examples that his mother and revered
older brother, Thornton or “Doc,” had set. His father too was in the habit of forgiving debts
to his medical practice for those who could not pay. As Stu puts it today: “It was simply
treating people right and giving back to the community. Those became my values.”
He was attending Staunton Military Academy when illness forced him to drop out. He eventually
finished at a public high school in Arlington and won a baseball scholarship to the
University of Virginia. However, family circumstances now intervened, and he was forced
to attend night classes at what is now George Mason University, where he studied radio
broadcasting and advertising sales. To support himself, a young wife and child, he was also
holding down two jobs, one as a mailman and the other coaching baseball at a junior college.
Nonetheless, he harbored a growing passion for journalism.
In 1966, his dream was about to be realized when he was offered a job as a beat reporter
for the Houston Chronicle, but that was dashed when an older brother called from
California with an urgent plea for Stu’s help in his business. He dutifully took up the call,
but the relationship soured, and Stu became a semiconductor sales engineer for
Teledyne with Orange County as his territory. Although he enjoyed the work, he also found it
stressful. After a few years, he formed his own mortgage brokerage, which was successful
enough that in the late 1980s, he decided to pursue his goal in journalism. His beloved
brother Doc counselled him: “Don’t be a writer; you’ll starve.” As to that, Stu reflects,
“He was right,” but he vowed that he would “never work just for money again.”
Thus he dove into the financially treacherous waters of local newspapering.
He began by starting another business: co-authoring private autobiographies. He then
approached the crusty editor of Laguna’s Coastline News, Jerry Ledbetter, about writing a column.
However, what Jerry wanted was front-page stories. There was a shortage of reporters---
probably due to Jerry’s failure to pay them---a situation rectified in the case of Stu
who soon discovered that Jerry also refused to use a computer…or typewriter. This arrangement
lasted until 1998 when Jerry offered Stu the paper, which he bought with the help of a
silent partner. In addition, he brought in Barbara Diamond, the doyenne of Laguna reporters,
from the News-Post. With other local writers, Weather pro Dennis McTighe, the late
Elizabeth “Susi Q” Quilter, James Pribram, Suzi Harrison, among others, the paper was now
in a dominating position. Then after only four years, his partner who had kept the books
needed to sell. Unfortunately the accounts were in such disarray that Stu couldn’t
figure them out. In 2002, the paper was sold to the Times, and Stu walked away.
Dismayed but not for long, he decided to start a third local paper, the Independent.
But could Laguna support three newspapers? Stu thought that the situation of
having distant owners now of both local papers would open up the possibility. The Indy quickly
became the town’s top news source. In 2008, when the financial world was in upheaval
and the newspaper biz going awry, Stu didn’t stand in the way when his financial partner
was ready to sell and bail. Such turbulence might have daunted less dedicated people, but
the internet was revolutionizing the way people got news.
Stu created what is known in the news business as a “hyper-local on-line newspaper” in the
form of StuNewsLaguna. The new format proved successful, especially after Shaena Stabler
came on board to handle the business end as his partner and co-owner. There were other
challenges to make it work including a battle with cancer, but by any measurement, StuNews has
been a great success with an individual readership that sometimes exceeds 28,000 in a town of 23,000.
The paper has logged visitors from 157 countries and in all fifty states. Once during the recent canyon brush
fire, the StuNews Facebook Page got 70,000 visits in less than three hours. Stu’s goal has
been to “make the town smaller” by following a policy of not taking sides, editorializing, publishing
puffery, or censoring letters except for those that are outright personal attacks. By dedicating
himself to providing the community with reliably objective and timely news of Laguna Beach that is
available literally worldwide, Stu Saffer has made a significant and valuable contribution to us all.
The 2016 Laguna Beach Parade
Artist of the Year
Editor’s Note: Art is at one level a highly individual undertaking. Dion Wright, our 2016 Artist of the Year,
not only paints and sculpts, but is also a vivid and insightful writer about the mind of an artist.
In many ways, the year 1967 was pivotal in Laguna Beach: the nation was divided by the
Vietnam War, the first Patriots Day Parade took place, and a local artistic counter-cultural
movement led to the creation of the Sawdust Festival. Now a much loved institution,
Dion was a leader in its formation in its early days he recounts in his autobiography,
Tempus Fugitive; Art, Beatniks, Sex, Hippies, Art Festivals, Mind Expansion, and Immortality .
We have decided to let him explain in his own words:
How I Got This Way
An artist's brief autobiographical sketch
by Dion Wright
In 1937 the Golden Gate Bridge went up, Boulder Dam started holding water, the Hindenburg went down,
and I was born on the winter solstice. Also, Aldous Huxley, author of Brave New World, relocated
in Hollywood, as far from Hitler as he could get.
My earliest memory is of Rembrandt's self-portrait with the warm brown eyes and wearing the
brown velvet cap. My Mother was ecstatic about the Metropolitan Museum of Art in general and
Rembrandt in particular, starting to take me in to NYC to visit him when I was about four.
The memory is clear, through repetition, and the influence of Mom's unfeigned ecstasy in the
presence of the Master. She was a business woman who knew next to nothing about child-rearing.
It seemed reasonable to her that she should share her favorite artist with me at four.
After all, I could talk (a blue streak) couldn't I?
I could read by then, too. Mom was a busy woman who read to me every night because she knew she should.
She didn't want to be bored by Wee Willie Winkie, though, so she read me books she could tolerate,
like ones by Booth Tarkington, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Mark Twain and Albert Payson Terhune.
After a while, some time between the ages of three and four, she made a deal with me:
I should learn to read to her, and THEN she would read to me. I had been following her words
across the pages, and was already getting the hang of reading, so I quickly achieved reading to her.
When she saw that I could, she unloaded a couple of crates of books in my vicinity,
leaving me to my own devices, and I've been reading ever since.
My Old Man was of a different persuasion about Art, which interested him but mildly.
An odd thing, since he was an operatic tenor; a graduate of the Eastman School in Rochester, so
one might have assumed he'd like the Met too, but the Met he favored was the Metropolitan Opera,
which we listened to weekly on radio, hosted by Milton Cross. Regarding physical collections,
HE liked the American Museum of Natural History, with the gigantic statue of Teddy Roosevelt
on horseback at the entrance, which monument set me early a high bar of sculptural possibility.
My Old Man took me mostly into the dinosaur wing and into the armor collection. Both areas were
inducive of sculptural enlightenment. The dinosaurs paced, arrested, in their internal skeletal forms,
while the suits of armor were all surface, sombre, sinister and existentially dangerous,
even without anybody inside of them. The thing dinosaurs and Medieval knights had in common
was that they were lethally dangerous. Nobody ever thought that about Rembrandt. My sculptural
intentions were set early by the contrast and balance of the internal with the external, and
informed by mythology, both classical and personal.
I also have riveting memories of World War II; not Pearl harbor, but D-Day, and wondering
what it meant, with everybody so buzzing about it, but not so agitated as when FDR died.
I'd never seen a lot of grown-ups shedding tears, and it impressed me. My kindly Grandmother
took me into Manhattan to see the contrasting realities of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs at Radio City,
and the hole in the side of the Empire State Building, where a bomber lost in fog had plowed into it.
I had expected to see the tail sticking out. When I heard on the radio that the Red Army was advancing, I
colored the soldiers in my coloring book red. Then we moved to California, my Old man
going ahead, and then the rest of the family following via the Chief, at the end of the coast-to-coast
streamliner era. I kept my nose pressed to the window all the way, and received a sense of how big
our country is. We arrived into the bedlam of LA's Union Station in 1945, and then saw the blue
Pacific Ocean appearing at the end of Santa Monica Boulevard. I had my 8th birthday in
Santa Barbara, where my mother cried out, "Come listen to the atom bomb!"
That was an irreversible moment.
Changing coasts was a paradigm-shift that was conditionally good for me, but which
shift of bearings threw my parents into deep psychological waters in which they struggled evermore.
The horizons opened for me. From one of our homes on Point Fermin in San Pedro we watched
Howard Hughes lift off the Spruce Goose on a sparkling blue day at LA Harbor,
the giant plane a precise miniature in the distance, but loud. How could we know it would never fly again,
and that Hughes would recede into his self-administered disgrace?
Our family commenced a peripatetic series of domicile relocations which came to rest in San Clemente,
population then 1200. I had a series of teachers who saw value in Art, and encouraged my fledgling efforts,
especially Mr. Douglas Hammond, the Renaissance Man who was the bright light
at old Capistrano High. He talked Aldous Huxley with me, and told me I was too young for Ayn Rand.
As a social outsider, my young life was spent in nature. I learned the entire ecology of south
Orange County, from the top of Saddleback Mountain to the roots of the kelp forest.
All of it was grist for the mill of emerging artistic operations. In the cultural world,
TV replaced radio, and imagination suffered for it.
At UCSB I came under the influence of Mr. Howard Warshaw, the most brilliant thinker
and best artist I ever had the privilege to know. His disciples became passionate advocates
of his traditional view of Art as existing on an unbroken continuum from the ancient caves
into the problematic future. He cleaved to the timeless principle that Art served a social transaction
within the ancient equation of Artist-Art-Observor. Howard Warshaw was troubled by contemporary
philosophical revisionism which elevates the artist so far that the observer becomes irrelevant.
I have never deviated from advancing and expressing his view, and worked during the next fifty five years
to attempt to find meaning in an increasingly fragmented and psychotic world.
Individual Art works are no more than the physical detritus of a spiritual quest.
Within the accelerating coalescence of global culture, new and holistic modes of expression
will have to emerge, given the by-no-means certainty of our survival. Assuming that we
do survive, the nature of Art will continue, at bedrock, to be revelation, and the communication of it.
The 2016 Laguna Beach Parade
Athletes of the Year
Nick Hernandez Jr. and Sam Stinett, champion skim boarders
If Laguna Beach can claim any sport as its own, it would be skimboarding. Anyone who grew up in Laguna Beach
from the 1920s and on will remember daring young men who took pieces of varnished plywood to certain
sandy stretches of beach where the waves receded in such a way so as to leave a thin layer of water.
If you threw the board so that it landed just right, you could step onto it and ride it into the face of an
oncoming wave. Over the years, the sport has grown immensely along with the skills of our two champion
Athletes of the Year.
Nick Hernandez III, 51, grew up in Laguna Beach and went through its school system. Although the sport
had existed here in crude fashion for decades, at the age of seven he was already closely observing
others like Chris Henderson at Aliso Beach who were taking the sport to new levels. By age fifteen, he
became one of the first ever to skim into a wave and then surf it back to shore. Emulating surfers, he
also perfected the art of riding into the tube of a falling wave and then shooting back out of it.
He is the first skimboarder ever to earn money in the sport when, in 1986, he won a $300 prize at
Aliso Beach in a competition sponsor by Club West, the first of his many professional
contests. He has also done more conventional “big wave” paddle-in surfing and has been known to
surf with skimboards on standing waves of rivers where they flow into the ocean.
Nick credits Tex Haines, who founded Victoria Skimboards in Laguna Canyon in 1976, for
the development of the technology of skimboarding with its current double-pointed boards that are
wide, strong, and thin. Yet, skimboarding is physically very demanding, and he compares it to
football as “a younger person’s sport.” Now retired as a pro, for the past seventeen years Nick has
been on the board of directors of Surfers Healing, which has taken hundreds of autistic kids and their
families to the beach to experience a day of skimming and surfing. In more recent years, his
interests have turned toward music as a career, and together with his band, Common Sense, plays
mixed genre reggae-rock under contract to Virgin Records. Under the sponsorship of Ford, the
group has toured not only America, but Europe, Asia, and Mexico as well.
The next generation of champion skimboarding is represented by Sam Stinett, 23, who
also grew up in Laguna (LBHS Class of 2011). He started the sport at the age of only five at
West Street Beach near his home in South Laguna. Two years later, he was encouraged by his
father, Scott, to enter his first competition at the Victoria Skimboard Contest at Aliso Beach.
Sam quickly mastered the advanced forms of the sport, which have gotten increasingly challenging
over the past decade. For example, the intricate “sider” trick involves skimming out into a wave
formed by its hitting a rock formation, catching the reflected wave and then riding it
into an oncoming wave and then back to shore.
Sam turned pro at age fourteen when he began competing in the Victoria World Championships
of Skimboarding started by Tex Haines also held at Aliso Beach. This is the premier
world contest in the sport, and Sam first won it in 2011 and would go on to win it twice more.
Other competitions have taken him to Portugal, France and Spain on the Atlantic as well as to
Brazil, Angola, and Mexico’s Pacific coast. Today Sam is grateful that he has been able to follow
other top skimboarders from Laguna like Nick Hernandez who have put the sport into the
world spotlight and given him the experience of international competition. By their superior abilities
in Laguna’s native sport of skimboarding, Nick Hernandez and Sam Stinett have brought glory
on themselves and honor to our community.
The 2016 Laguna Beach Parade
Junior Citizens of the Year
Laguna Beach High School Seniors
Elle Mahdavi and Alexander Rounaghi
The Junior Citizens of the Year are members of the Class of 2016 at Laguna Beach High School who have been selected by the faculty and staff on the basis of their achievements in academics, leadership, and service to school and community.
Elle Mahdavi has lived in Laguna for the past nine years. She is presently co-secretary general of the high school’s Model United Nations chapter. This past summer, she was active in organizing events and seminars for the local chapter of the United Nations Association as part of its 75th anniversary. In addition, Elle is president of the LBHS Art Club, which, under her leadership, has curated two exhibitions of student art at Seven Degrees. In other service, she volunteered as a receptionist at Mission Hospital Laguna Beach for a year and a half. She is a high academic achiever with a 4.4 GPA, Elle recently received the DAR’s Good Citizenship Award for her passion in studying American history. In April 2015, she was honored with Rotary’s Youth Leadership Award. She hopes to attend UC Berkeley or UCLA to study international relations and economics.
Alexander Rounaghi has grown up in Laguna Beach. He has been heavily involved in student leadership in his time at LBHS, serving as class president both in his freshman and senior years. Alex has also participated in the Model United Nations program for four years including being its co-secretary general. Academically he also holds a 4.4 grade point average and was chosen by American Legion Post 222 to be a delegate at Boys State in Sacramento where he served as a county supervisor. Last summer, Alex was honored by Senator Diane Feinstein who selected him to participate in the United States Senate page program in the nation’s capital. More recently, he led a successful effort to bring back the Safe Rides program for students of Laguna Beach. Alex hopes to attend college at either Georgetown, Stanford, or Princeton to study political science and economics.
PROGRAM COVER ARTIST: LBHS Senior Garry Ledesma
and ESSAY WINNER: Nicole Motherway
Nicole is a 8th grader at Thurston Middle School
and a student in Miss Laura Silvers Language Arts class
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Last updated February 8, 2016