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‘Experience’ Is the Walk of the Town

An idea gleaned at a convention in Columbus, Ohio, has taken root in South Pasadena, where both the city manager’s office and Chamber of Commerce report that they are seeing good results from the new “Experience South Pasadena” program.

Mary Jerejian, management analyst in the city manager’s office, said she was invited to go to the convention last year and saw all the ways that Columbus was showcasing itself.
“They had created tons of material for visitors, and I thought we could do some of these in South Pasadena,” Jerejian said.

“We loved the idea,” said Nichole Clark, communications manager at the Chamber of Commerce, which is working with the city manager’s office on the program.

The idea was to come up with themes which might encourage people to take a walking tour of local businesses or places in South Pasadena.

The first themes, which are “Around the World in South Pasadena” and the “Library Arts Trail” have been going since June 1 and continue through July 31.

Clark said that as of July 1, there have been 42 responses from people who scanned the QR code on the poster for the “Around The World” and for the “Library Arts Trail” tours. That may not be a true reflection of how many people have taken the walking tours because some people have done them without scanning a code, which is on posters in front of the businesses or the library.

“Mary (Jerejian) mentioned a few months ago that she was working on a walking tour program for the city and wanted to somehow incorporate local landmarks and historic locations in the tours,” said Olivia Radbill, library archivist. “We decided that one of the first walking tours would be on the art in the library. Being over a century old, the library building has collected quite of bit of artwork over time.

“The library art tour highlights a few of our most outstanding pieces, including our fused glass Ray Bradbury-inspired windows by Tim Carey and our entrance sculpture by Merrill Gage. We hope that the Experience South Pasadena walking tours will allow residents an opportunity to become more connected to the South Pasadena community.”

“I think it is a great fun idea and really appreciate Olivia developing the tour that showcases some of the truly unique works of art we have here at the library,” added librarian Cathy Billings.

The comments and photos received by the city manager’s office and Chamber of Commerce show that the tours have been a hit with those people who have hit the trail.

“The Experience South Pasadena Program is a really cool idea,” commented Michelle Chin. “Love that I get to explore the city and try new places with the program while also supporting local business.”

“I love Nicole’s (Market and Café) and this program incentivized me to go again,” said Wende Lee. “This time I tried their bean soup from the frozen section.”

The tour also got other people to go where they had either never been before, or discovered new things about a place.

“Delicious,” wrote Anthony Lai about the recently opened restaurant Rice & Nori.

“It was our first time trying this restaurant and we were impressed,” wrote Lai.

Videotheque is a small video store on Mission Street that fits the profile of a business that showcases products from around the world. It has DVDs from many countries and “old” American film DVDs.

“Awesome video store with arcades,” commented Jason Lew.

Jerejian and Clark came up with a list of possible businesses or places people might like to visit that fit the theme of the tours, and then asked the businesses if they wanted to participate.

New themes for self-walking tours are going to be introduced soon, so that the South Pasadena Experience can renew itself every eight weeks.

One of the businesses on the Passport Tour, Nicole’s Market and Café, is celebrating the return of its Bastille Day Festivities on July 16 from 11:30-3 p.m. The French patisserie celebrates the French holiday with an afternoon of food, drinks and the music of acclaimed accordionist Nick Ariondo.

Ariondo, a recipient of many awards, is recognized as a concert artist and composer, who has performed in chamber concerts, solo recitals and orchestra appearances.

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