The Early Days of The Fiesta
I went to my first Hidden Hills Fiesta in the early ’80s, and it was wonderful. All of the people who lived in Hidden Hills and their friends and family were wandering through the community from early in the morning until after dinner with large smiles and giving warm welcomes to all the people that crossed their path. It was an updated “Walton’s” episode come to life.
The action began with a fun run from the back gate to the front gate with a zig zag onto Jed Smith west from Round Meadow. On the other end of Jed Smith, we meandered back onto Round Meadow and finally turned right to charge down to the front gate. The good part of the race was that we all got to meet each other at the parking lot by Round Meadow School. By the time the stragglers got to the end, the winners had left. Kitty Andrews, the epitome of a Walton, would yell at me each year as I raced by (slightly behind 75% of the runners) that it looked like I wasn’t going to win again! (Writers note: I never won a race in my life).
Miss Kitty and her husband, I want to say Tim but my memory is easily as long as my hair, were among the nicest people in Hidden Hills. On the first day of the new school year, Kitty would have all the mothers to her house for lunch and whatever. My wife never told me what went on, and I couldn’t pass the physical to find out for myself. Kitty also ran a refreshment booth at the Fiesta in the afternoon which is now being run by others who knew her and want to keep her memory alive.
Before I enlarge this true-life adventure, I have to tell you that the physical Hidden Hills Administration Buildings were not where they are now. Today’s office stands where the parking lot and swimming pool used to be. The old office was where the swimming pool is now, and I really can’t remember if the tennis courts were there or not. The physical layout is important to understand the rest of this commentary.
After the race came the parade, rivaling other famous Southern California parades that happen near the end of each year, only most of the people on the street knew most of the people in the parade. Now that’s a parade!
When the parade ended, the activities began such as the swimming races for the kids, the best dog contest, the pie baking contest, etc. There was food to be eaten and snacks to be devoured and the atmosphere was a combination of dust, fun, water fights and a whole lot of laughter. As the day wore on, people headed back to their ranches to dress for the Santa Maria Bar B Que which was cooked at the back of the parking lot and served to all who bought tickets to support the event.
The adults came back to the parking lot as dinner was cooking and quickly staked out seats with their friends and neighbors. After the first Fiesta, I started to realize that the day was for the kids and the nights were for the adults. I talked with friends who lived there and we shared how kids were running up and down the lot while pretending that hay wagons and stagecoaches were coming. When darkness took over and the food was finished, the event began to breakup in early evening which was way to early to shut down.
The following year, the late Christina Baron and I volunteered to run the Fiesta from early in the morning until late in the evening. We were able to make some improvements. First of all, there had been a lot of walking and running from Clear Valley & Long Valley heading north to Round Meadow and Long Valley. It was fun for the kids but a little tiring for us adults and seniors. So the committee hired bicycle taxis from Westwood to come to our Fiesta. We sold tickets to ride these 2-seated taxis peddled by UCLA Bruins. It was exactly what was needed.
With the movement during the day solved, we started working on the night. Christina worked on getting us a hay wagon for the evening that would take the kids and grown ups on a ride for about a 1/2 hour as well as a stagecoach which would drive up and down Round Meadow. It was a good start but not enough.
We discussed the need to find something else for the kids at night. It wasn’t long before we remembered that Calabasas had a 4th of July celebration that included about 10-12 games of skill for the kids. Throwing darts at balloons, basketballs through hoops, baseballs at bottles, etc. We contacted them for info and brought the games to Hidden Hills.
It was a perfect ending for a Fiesta which included a fun run (maybe not so much fun, but well named), swimming races, good food and snacks, a pie baking contest that was won by those with cash to get Marie Calendar’s pie(s). Rides of all kinds, games of fun, great Bar B Que. Smiles were on the wee ones, grins on the teenagers and a happy, tearful good bye to an amazing day. Now that’s what I call—oh, never mind.
Good night, John Boy.
Good night, Grandpa!
Roger Schlesinger is second generation born and raised in Southern California. He attended Beverly Hills High School with two other Hidden Hills residents and went on to obtain a Bachelor of Arts from U.C.L.A in Economics and M.B.A from U.S.C. in Finance. Roger became a stock broker, a commercial rehab developer and finally a realtor-turned-mortgage broker by accident. He was on the Business Channel for most of the 1990s, and radio since 1997. In 2000, he went onto the Hugh Hewitt show nationwide for 14 years discussing mortgages and finance as the MortgageMinuteGuy. Today, Roger can still be found on local radio, working in mortgages, writing books or reminiscing about Hidden Hills for “Roger’s View.”