Robert Arends

5 to Try: Star-spangled Fun in Coronado!

Coronado 4th of July parade (credit: Coronado Visitor Center)

Let your patriotic colors fly this 4th of July – and all weekend long – in Coronado, just across the bridge from downtown San Diego.

Coronado’s Independence Day bash is the most popular in San Diego County. The prominent Navy presence on the island is a big reason why. There’s NAS North Island, aircraft carriers like the famous USS Carl Vinson which just returned from the Middle East, and Naval Amphibious Base Coronado where the elite Navy SEALs train. (Did you know: Coronado traces its rich military roots back to 1911 when the first navy plane flew from its shores)

A jam-packed day of July 4th fun includes a 5K/15K run/walk, rough-water swim at North Beach and a two-hour parade down Orange Avenue, Coronado’s quintessential “main street USA,” complete with military bands, floats and Navy aircraft. It’s like a Norman Rockwell painting come to life with families of locals and visitors alike lining the route donned in red, white & blue and waving flags. There’s also “Art-in-the-Park” and a music concert in Spreckels Park, and at night, catch the spectacular fireworks display over Glorietta Bay.

Before, during and after the festivities, following are Five Fun Places to Try along Orange Avenue:

The Music Man at Lamb's Players Theatre.

  1. Guaranteed to have audiences humming “76 Trombones” all weekend long, the musical classic “The Music Man” takes center stage at the Lamb’s Players Theatre on July 2-3. Great way to launch into the 4th and set the celebratory mood.
  2. Catch a movie at the all-new Village Theatre, a polished cinematic gem at 820 Orange Ave. The dazzling Art Deco design and 3-D color murals are eye-candy for the kids – adults too! Bargain matinee shows before 6pm are only $8.50. Current flick: Pixar’s “Cars 2.”
  3. Sample handmade candies like “Coronado Crunch” (white or milk chocolate with peanut butter, marshmallows and rice krispies, drizzled in more chocolate!). at Fuzziwig’s Candy Factory at 1126 Orange Ave. Other tempting sweets: caramel, fudge, turtles and several varieties of caramel apples.

    Elvis (and a cow!) greet ice cream fans at Moo Time.

  4. Another sweet place to “chill” is MooTime Creamery at 1025 Orange Ave., famous for their fresh made-to-order ice cream creations and hand rolled waffle cones with totally cool flavors like girl scout mint, apple pie and “silly vanilly.” There’s a Moo Time at the Hotel del Coronado too!

    One of Artist Navarro Montllor's amazing seascapes!

  5. Take home a slice of paradise at the Art & Frames by Wood Gallery at 936 Orange Ave. Their just launched exhibit of fantastic seascape paintings by world-renowned artist Navarro Montllor are so realistic you can almost hear the waves crashing through the frames!

Have a fantastic 4th of July weekend!

Robert Arends

Lights, Camera, Action – in Coronado!

Marilyn Monroe on Coronado Beach during filming of "Some Like It Hot" (1958).

I love the movies! From indie flicks to blockbusters (sci-fi!), there’s magic in motion pictures and it’s one of my favorite weekend escapes.

Coronado is no stranger to the silver screen. When folks think of movies in the “crown city,” glitzy Hollywood images of Marilyn Monroe basking on the beach by the Hotel del Coronado in “Some Like it Hot” usually come to mind.

But a little known cinematic gem is getting ready for its close-up: the Village Theatre on Orange Avenue. Built in 1947 (coincidentally, the same year Marilyn starred in one of her earliest roles as Evie in the film “Dangerous Years”), the Village Theatre is a striking Art Deco-style, single-screen sensation – one of only three such movie houses in San Diego County (another being La Paloma in Encinitas where I have, admittedly, seen “Rocky Horror Picture Show” – sans costume).

The theater has been closed since 2000 and is looking the worse for wear. However, an exciting sequel is in the works this winter… moviegoers are in for a treat bigger than a tub of buttered popcorn with Raisinets!

A major renovation is underway by Five Star Theatres (best known for bringing back Hollywood’s El Capitan Theatre to its former glory) which will transform the historic site into a three-screen cinema, including a main auditorium with 200 seats and two rooms with 50 seats each. Cost: about $3 million. It’ll include a sparkling new façade – keeping its towering illuminated “Village” sign – a retro-modern Art Deco design throughout and a brand new ticket booth on the front sidewalk. Completion is slated for March 2010.

Though it’ll retain that ol’ fashioned feel from yesteryear, complementing the classic charm of Coronado’s main street, Village Theatre has its sights set well into the future. Five Star plans to run the theater until 2026. Now that’s what I call a happy Hollywood ending!

I’ll keep everyone posted with pics including, hopefully, an exclusive look at how things are progressing inside.