Happy 100, Mr. Laguna

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Editor,

Laguna gathered outside Selanne’s Steak Tavern to celebrate the late Harry Lawrence’s 100th birthday on Oct. 1 and to thank “Mr. Laguna” for his vigilance and efforts on behalf of our City.

Zahide Lawrence and Ruben Flores, of the Laguna Beach Beautification Council, cut the ribbon dedicating a brass plaque in Lawrence’s memory in front of the historic Tudor cottage and majestic Monterey pine Lawrence himself planted circa 1960.

In 2007, Oct. 1 was declared Harry Lawrence Day by the city of Laguna Beach. He hoped to live to 100, but passed away in 2012. So a final champagne toast was made this year.

As founder of the Beautification Council in 1952, Harry holds a special place in the hearts of Beautification Council members. Harry’s standard of “clean, quaint culture” and his vision and passion for Laguna Beach forged committees, codes, laws, civic action and much more.

It is impossible to enumerate Harry’s contributions. In a Chamber interview, Harry explained, “it took 21 years of work creating Main Beach. The police chief challenged me in 1950 – at the time, there was a bowling alley there, and bars. It took our team 21 years in creating what you see today. I asked why we can’t buy that property through the city. It cost $3 million; to me, it’s worth $100 million, to have that beach from Hotel Laguna to Las Brisas.”

Harry, the city and the Festival of Arts all figured out a way to buy it.

Billboards and signs once cluttering Main Beach fell victim to Harry’s new codes, which today still separate us from other beach cities.

In 1959, the prestigious Laguna Beautification Awards were created and first presented by Harry’s Beautification Council.

More recently, Beautification raised awareness of street end improvements through its Street End Project. Since then, many have been planted and revamped, and are city funded.

Forest Lane, another Beautification Council project, in conjunction with the City and Arts Commission, added cobblestones, a mosaic, benches, a mural, plantings and renovated restrooms to enhance our alley.

Harry Lawrence, you rock! The Beautification Council thanks you, Mr. Laguna, and pledges to continue in your honor.

Joanne Sutch, Laguna Beach

The author is the Beautification Council secretary

 

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