The end of the year is always a time for celebration, and during its last regular meeting of 2023, the Beverly Hills Recreation and Parks Commission on Nov. 28 recapped successful fall events while previewing the festivities to come.
After an Oct. 29 Fall Funtastic that featured a pumpkin carving contest, Día de Los Muertos activities and a spooky storytime, the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market will come alive with holiday cheer once again for the Holiday Craft Fair and Cookie Baking Contest on Dec. 10, Recreation Supervisor Evan Doyle said.
Bakers in the cookie contest will compete for first prize as well as special categories including best-tasting and best-looking cookie, while the craft fair will allow attendees to shop for a range of artisan gifts including candles, jewelry and repurposed denim, Doyle said.
He added that 19 people have registered for the cookie baking contest and encouraged anyone interested to sign up soon.
Commission Vice Chair Amie Sherry commended staff for turning the Farmers’ Market into a hub of community celebrations.
“I’m really impressed with all that you’ve been doing this year,” Sherry said. “As we’ve come back from the pandemic you’ve really hit it out of the park. You’ve had event after event and they’ve really all been incredible.”
The craft fair and baking contest will be followed by the Roxbury Variety Show on Dec. 11, where Beverly Hills seniors will showcase talents including poetry, dancing and acting.
Even with the holiday season in full swing, the commission began preparing for next year’s Community Services Department Showcase, on March 10, where parents can learn about Beverly Hills’ summer camp offerings.
Held at the Beverly Hills Farmers’ Market, the showcase will introduce parents to summer camp “vendors,” giving them a chance to ask questions, obtain discounts and plan for registration the following month, Recreation Services Manager Adrine Ovaspyan said.
Registration for residents opens at 9 a.m. on April 10, and registration for non-residents opens at 9 a.m. on April 17, Ovaspyan said. She added that camps fill up quickly, and she advised parents to log on early to make sure they secure a spot and avoid potential glitches.
Commissioner Deborah Termei suggested that organizers host a booth demonstrating how to register online and asked if summer camp offerings could include community service opportunities for teenagers, or opportunities for teenagers to shadow City Councilmembers and learn more about civic life.
Ovaspyan said that staff is considering several new teen programs this summer, including a camp counselor-in-training program, though she is always open to new suggestions.
She added that the number of camps is limited by the available field space across the city, and Commissioner JR Dzubak asked if staff could increase the number of camps by hosting some at El Rodeo Elementary School, which is currently under construction but scheduled to be completed next summer.
“We would love to have [the offerings] expand,” Ovaspyan said. “The school site we will be at may determine if we can add more or not.”
In the months ahead, Commission Chair Myra Lurie encouraged Ovaspyan and her colleagues to talk with camp staff about how to improve the overall experience.
“It’s a great opportunity in the next few months as you’re planning towards summer to really sit down with your [Recreation and Parks] staff who have participated each summer and get some feedback on what works and what doesn’t,” Lurie said.
Lurie also said she and Dzubak have held ad hoc meetings to discuss changes to the city’s pickleball offerings, including changes to the reservations system and court locations. Dzubak and Lurie provided few details about the proposed changes but said they may return to the commission in January with more concrete recommendations.