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Sunday Funday Ride Tours L.A.’s Historic Lights, Celebrates Operation Firefly Season

When LACBC launched Operation Firefly in the fall of 2012, we started with about 500 lights and a plan to hand them out over the course of several months until we ran out. We limited each distribution to 40 light sets and stopped after 2 hours or when we ran out lights that night, whichever came first. We didn’t have any sponsors at the time, but we DID have enthusiastic volunteers to help us make Operation Firefly a reality. Now, after four winter seasons, we’ve distributed lights and safety information to more than 6,000 people throughout the county and we’re growing the program by distributing lights through partner organizations that work with homeless or formerly homeless people who ride bikes for transportation.

From the very beginning, we’ve relied on our Team Firefly volunteers. We’ve also been very fortunate to receive support from the Laemmle Charitable Foundation (LCF) as the Season Sponsor for the last two years. Their sponsorship gave us the ability to expand the program, reaching five times the number of people this winter than we did the first year. We can’t thank Greg & Tish Laemmle of LCF enough. We were thrilled that they were able to join us for the ride and picnic (not to mention their participation in Operation Firefly in Westwood last month). We also want to thank the City of Long Beach, New Belgium Brewing, SoCal Gas, and LA City Council Members Jose Huizar, Felipe Fuentes, Joe Buscaino, Bob Blumenfield, Mitch O’Farrell, Mitch Englander, Paul Koretz, and Gil Cedillo for their support this year.

For the April Sunday Funday ride, we combined it with a celebration of our Operation Firefly program and the close of another successful Firefly season this past winter. We thought a ride and a picnic would be a fun way to say “thank you.” We decided on a light-themed ride for our members and Team Firefly volunteers (who handed out lights and information to more than 2,500 people county-wide between November 2015 and March 2016).

So, on April 3rd, the first Sunday of the month, we gathered at Barnsdall Park in East Hollywood to take a tour of historic L.A. street lights from the park to LACMA and back. Thanks to information shared with us by Jeffrey Ziliotto, Assistant Division Manager at the Los Angeles Bureau of Street Lighting, we enjoyed a relaxing, informative ride through neighborhoods of L.A. with old streetlights (still functioning) at the center of it all. Thanks go out also to the LACBC Ride Marshal Team for guiding the ride and Orange 20 Bikes for doing basic bike checks at the start of the ride.

The whole group in front of the Urban Light exhibit at LACMA, featuring 17 different styles of light poles from southern California cities.

Riding 4th street in Hancock Park, one of several historic L.A. neighborhoods on the tour. The light poles in this part of Windsor Square (4th Street & Norton) were the first in Los Angeles to be connected to underground power lines, something brand new in 1925.

5th street in the Windsor Square neighborhood. Lights in this neighborhood are two distinct styles and were installed circa 1914 and 1924. The older lights were originally more ornate and converted in 1926. The Mayor’s residence is just a few blocks away.

Known as “Vermonica,” this exhibit sits in the Staples parking lot at Vermont & Santa Monica Blvd. in East Hollywood. Installed by artist Sheila Klein in 1993, it was only intended to be on display for a year, part of the reconstruction of this shopping center after it was damaged during the 1992 riots. It’s widely noted that Vermonica preceded LACMA’s Urban Light by 15 years and includes lights from all over the City of LA.

The post-ride picnic on the lawn at Barnsdall Art Park, right next to the historic Hollyhock House.

Thanks to our Team Firefly super volunteers (from top left): Karl Eggers, George Marxelly, Eric Gonzalez, David Hoy, Carol Kamjou, Danny Gamboa, Trent Whittaker, Dave Morris, and Kathleen Smith. Each was given a certificate of appreciation.

Extra special thanks (and framed certificates with photos) for Operation Firefly Season Sponsors, and all around wonderful people, Greg and Tish Laemmle of the Laemmle Charitable Foundation.

This year’s cake courtesy of super volunteer and genius baker, Trent Whittaker, made to look like one of the Operation Firefly cycling caps. It looked and tasted great!

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