Tag Archives: featured

Grasshopper for Grandpa screens at the Alhecama Theatre

By Kevin McGarry

Film pays tribute to Santa Barbara’s Chinatown and the family-owned bar and restaurant that brought a community together for over 60 years.

Sue Udden and Helene Wong staff the check-in table. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Grasshopper for Grandpa, a film by local director/producer Casey McGarry first premiered at the 2015 Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF). The short documentary tells the story of Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens, a celebrated Chinese restaurant and bar in Santa Barbara for 60 years. Jimmy’s opened in 1947 by the Chung Family. Located at 215 E Canon Perdido Street, Jimmy’s quickly became a favorite hangout for a diverse community of people living in or around Santa Barbara’s Chinatown, a neighborhood located inside original quadrangle where the Spanish had established El Presidio Royal de Santa Bárbara in 1782.

Anne Petersen and Bob Lovejoy chat during the reception. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Jimmy’s outlived all the other Chinese-owned businesses on the block but eventually closed its doors in 2006 with the retirement of Tommy Chung, Jimmy’s son. The distinctly Chinatown-esque building, constructed in 1947, is now the last visible remnant of Santa Barbara’s historic Chinatown.

The sold-out crowd at the Alhecama Theatre. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

Casey’s well-crafted Grasshopper for Grandpa not only gives background to the history of Santa Barbara’s too-often forgotten Chinatown, but also explores why Jimmy’s in particular grew to be so special to so many people– and why its stewards, owner Tommy Chung and 30-year bartender Willy Gilbert, made the experience there so special and left a lasting impression on so many “regulars” and passersby. After the bar closed, in March of 2007, the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation purchased Jimmy’s Oriental Gardens from the Chung family. The acquisition of Jimmy’s uniquely enhances SBTHP’s ability to interpret the multi-layered history of Santa Barbara’s Presidio Neighborhood.

Barbara Chung during the Q&A. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

The film doesn’t stop there, however. In September of 2013, after the bar reopened after being beautifully restored to its 1947 form by longtime happy hour regular and patron, Bob Lovejoy, and his son, Clay. The restoration is highlighted in the film and leaves the audience with a hopeful look at a legacy and community that the collaboration between Bob and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation helped to restore. Bob’s bar is called the Pickle Room and the Jimmy’s sign now hangs inside about the bar reminding all patrons of the legacy of the Chung family.

The Panelists gather at the end of the evening. Photo by Dr. Paul Mori.

There were 150 people in the audience at screening of Grasshopper for Grandpa at the Alhecama Theatre at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on June 1, the theatre’s maximum capacity. Before the film, there was a reception outside the theatre. Following the film, Santa Barbara Independent’s Matt Kettman, a Jimmy’s, (and now Pickle Room) regular, moderated a panel discussion that included Bob, Casey, film producers Milo Wolf and Maureen McFadden, SBTHP’s Mike Imwalle, and Tommy’s younger sister, Barbara Chung.

Grasshopper for Grandpa posters and dvds will be available to purchase in the Presidio gift shop soon. Casey’s latest documentary film, The Boatmaker, debuted at the 2017 Santa Barbara International Film Festival.

For more photos from the screening of Grasshopper for Grandpa, please visit our Flickr album here.

Kevin McGarry is director of Programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation.

2017 Founding Day Festival

By Kevin McGarry

Founding Ceremony. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

The Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP) held its annual Founding Day Festival on Saturday, April 29th, 2017 from noon to 4:00 pm at El Presidio de Santa Bárbara State Historic Park. This unique public educational program offers Santa Barbara residents and visitors a free, family-friendly opportunity to visit the historic park and come together to learn about and commemorate Santa Barbara’s rich history. In all, approximately 800-1,000 people attended this year’s event.

Baile de California performs. Photo by Brittany Myles.

SBTHP’s annual Founding Day Festival provides the time and space for community members and visitors to not only commemorate Santa Barbara’s founding moment but also to celebrate its layered cultural history and the diverse communities and institutions that today call Santa Barbara home. Our 2017 Festival celebrated this cultural diversity by successfully showcasing why Santa Barbara continues to be such a wonderful place to live and visit.

Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara performs. Photo by Brittany Myles.

Directly following the 2017 Founding Day Ceremony, festival attendees enjoyed three hours of living history stations and performances by local artists, including the San Marcos High School Jazz Combo, The Folk Orchestra of Santa Barbara, Mariachi Las Olas de Santa Barbara, Spanish guitarist Chris Fossek, and flamenco dancers from Linda Vega Dance Studio. In addition, seven local artists and vendors hosted booths and sold their locally-made products, and Presidio descendants gathered to share their family history.

Community booths at the festival. Photo by Brittany Myles.

Many educational booths were offered by local nonprofit institutions, including the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library, the Santa Barbara Public Library, the Santa Barbara Museum of Art and the Santa Barbara Historical Museum.

Linda Vega Dance Studio. Photo by Fritz Olenberger.

The Burger Bus of Santa Barbara and Kona Ice provided festival goers with delicious food. Brass Bear Brewing and Standing Sun Wines offered free tastings in one of the Presidio’s interpretive heritage gardens. In all, our 2017 Festival attracted an estimated 800 visitors to the site, doubling last year’s participation and bringing many first-time visitors to the park.

Friends from the Santa Barbara Mission Archive-Library. Photo by Brittany Myles.

The SBTHP Programs Department would like to thank all local dignitaries and city officials, visitors, community members, Presidio descendants, artists, local institutions, living history interpreters, and SBTHP volunteers whose involvement in the festival helped to make this year’s Founding Day an unprecedented success. We can’t wait for next year’s festival.  ¡Viva Santa Barbara!

For a great article about the from our friends at Noozhawk click here.

For more photos from our Flickr Album, click here.

Kevin McGarry is director of programs at the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation. 

The History Relevancy Project Launches at Founding Day!

by Heidi Ortloff

History Relevancy project team members Nora Kassner, Heidi Ortloff, Ashely Baker, Yahjaira Cea, and Paola Dela Cruz. Photo by Heido Ortloff.

The History and Relevancy Pilot Project unveiled their first outreach effort during the Founding Day Festival at El Presidio de Santa Barbara State Historic Park on April 29, 2017.  This project is a collaboration between UC Santa Barbara, California State Parks, and the Santa Barbara Trust for Historic Preservation (SBTHP). Together, we hope to explore the topics of migration and immigration, while also building on the park’s relationship with the surrounding community.

UC Santa Barbara Student Yahjaira Cea assisting SBTHP Board President Teraese Chin with her story. Photo by Heidi Ortloff.

On Founding Day, project staff invited visitors to share their families’ immigration stories and learn more about the pilot project. Throughout the event, visitors recorded their family stories, while UC Santa Barbara students plotted their histories on a large world map. We were able to capture the family stories of several Presidio descendants who had ancestors that traveled from Spain, to Mexico, and finally to Santa Barbara. Participants related various reasons for their family’s arrival to the Santa Barbara region, from escaping bad weather, to religious persecution, economic opportunities, and avoiding war.

UC Santa Barbara student Yahjaira Cea felt a strong sense of community after listening to various visitors’ stories noting that, “The growth of the map throughout the day expressed the beautifully diverse community that makes Santa Barbara [what it is] today.”

We hope to continue exploring the importance of immigration in our community with further outreach efforts later this year and we thank everyone who participated at our Founding Day booth on April 29.

Heidi Ortloff is an interpreter with California State Parks assigned to El Presidio SHP.