The Downtown Report: Early December Edition

A look back to a look forward

Everyone here at The Observer hopes every one of you had a memorable reunion of sorts at Thanksgiving, and that you feel optimistic as we head into a new year that we desperately need.

Last year, about this time, we all seemed to be looking forward. This was not so much looking forward to the New Year as it was for wanting the current year to end. Fini. It’s largely the same again now, so how about an early look back to kick start looking forward again. This may be the last time, may be the last time, I don’t know.

Tents outside St. Jude in 2020.

The first COVID vaccinations in Orange County were in December of 2020 and they came just in time, as tents had been placed in the parking lot of St. Jude to take care of the large number of patients arriving. More and more Fullerton residents were getting the much-anticipated vaccine and suddenly there was hope in the air that we were finally on the journey back to normalcy. At least there was light at the end of the tunnel. 

In January, a pot of gold was found in the last large stand of orange trees in Fullerton at Acacia and Orangethorpe. Gone forever.

The Downtown Report actually became a page of prophecies. Let’s see if any of them came to pass.

“More of us grew very weary of blaming one group or another, and all of a sudden, the ‘United’ States reappeared and as the air warmed, we warmed up to each other.” So much for optimism; seems like we got hotter and hotter, not warmer, but with each passing week, we all wanted to believe that the worst was behind us and that something close to normal was heading our way.

“Many preferred dining al fresco by now so it was not as difficult to keep indoor dining manageable.” At least that was true and we have spent some time on this page keeping everyone up on the outdoor options, which continue to this day.

“Knowing the virus was close to being contained meant we could all likely have an actual Thanksgiving, Holiday Season, and a Happy New Year.” Looks like that prediction came true too.

February, we lost Fullerton resident and baseball legend Tommy Lasorda, and in September, we also lost his wife Jo, so Tommy Lasorda Tribute Day on September 22 became a tribute to both of them.

Building the new FUHS gym.

March, the new Fullerton College Humanities building and the new Fullerton High School gymnasium were quickly coming together, and Steve the Peacock was sighted for the first time. Steve, if you read The Observer, please let us know where you are now. Include a photo.

Fixing up Fullerton’s trails.

April saw the Fullerton Loves Food Egg Hunt, the return of the Fullerton Market at the Downtown Plaza, large numbers of volunteers participating in the citywide Love Fullerton cleanup/fix up day, and a number of road reconstruction projects began, which was something residents had been demanding for quite some time. Oddly, the complaints then came in that the work was disruptive. What to do…

May/June: We missed out on Day of Music and so many other events in and around May and June, and discovered there would be no City funds budgeted for our Museum Center, which fortunately reopened 4 months ago and the board is currently planning new events. Still looking for a sign of something positive, we noticed the Railway Stairs were being replaced and were told the Korean War Memorial, which has since opened, would begin development at Hillcrest Park.

July: Some events would just not be stopped and the Downtown 4th of July Parade was huge, so much pent-up energy would not be denied as hundreds toured the town, some wondering if the annual fireworks show would go on. It would not but as you all recall, there were more than enough fireworks all over town to light up the sky, and then some. Soon after, Summer Concerts in the Park reappeared and live music came back elsewhere. Notably, the Continental Room opened its second area with a stage and more seating, waiting for the all clear sign to start booking shows.

As this year was drawing to an end, The Auditorium at Fullerton High School underwent a retrofit and upgrade. Work began on revitalizing the corner of Harbor and Commonwealth with new businesses coming in, the Korean War Memorial we mentioned above was dedicated at the conclusion of the Veteran’s Day Parade, which returned and was impressive as ever, and…

We said sad goodbyes to favorites Roadkill Ranch and Vino Nostra this year, but we also know Julie and Dena are doing well in their new ventures. So much has changed since COVID-19 hit but many have been fortunate enough to weather the storm and we have to believe 2022 will be filled with good times and great success. Thanks for spending time with me on this page again this year. There will be one more Observer this year in mid-December but late November just seemed like a good time for a review, so there you have it. If I missed something let me know and I’ll try to fit it into the next issue.

Trimming trees along Commonwealth downtown.

Caught the crew trimming trees on Commonwealth, just in time. We’re ready to start installing new banners up and down the Avenue and when the trees are overgrown, they block the view. Hopefully you will notice the new ones going up soon, thanks to all who sponsored a Fullerton Honors Banner. If you want to participate send your information to Mike at

Photo Quiz

Something different this time. You have seen them all over town. Specifically, what are they? Send answer to Mike at Please do not post answers in the comment section below.

3 replies »

  1. This article appears to be quite interesting. We lost out on Day of Music and a slew of other events in May and June, and learned there would be no City money earmarked for our Museum Center, which reopened four months ago and is already preparing new activities. We noted the Railway Stairs were being renovated and were told that the Korean War Memorial, which has now opened, would begin development at Hillcrest Park.

    • Was it unclear? The Museum Center was closed, staff cut, etc. but funding was found to re-open, maybe I should have included that info.

  2. Wonderful article Mr. Ritto! Having lived in Fullerton years ago, it was nice to read about all the positive happenings in 2021 and what will be in 2022. Thank you,