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CIVR Blog: Catalina Silent Film Benefit

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The Catalina Casino will host the Silent Film Benefit on May 16.

The Catalina Casino will host the Silent Film Benefit on May 16.

One of Catalina Island’s most enduring events has been enjoying renewed popularity. The Catalina Island Museum’s annual Silent Film Benefit combines the power of a live orchestra with the nostalgia of silent films.

Held for nearly 30 years, the Catalina Silent Film Benefit has spotlighted some of the most iconic films ever made and 2015 will see another icon brought to the Avalon Theatre. The Phantom of the Opera was considered ground-breaking when it was first filmed and the story’s popularity has continued to resonate, thanks to the Andrew Lloyd Webber musical. The 1925 film starred Lon Chaney as the title character and was remarkable for several innovations. For the Silent Film Benefit, the film’s dramatic score will be performed live by a 30-piece orchestra, accompanied by a soprano soloist.

The Silent Film Benefit tends to sell out early and with the popularity of Phantom of the Opera, museum staff recommends advance ticket sales. Tickets are $20 for museum members and $24 for non-members and can be purchased by calling the museum at (310) 510-2414 or visiting the museum website. The Silent Film Benefit will be held on Sunday, May 16, at 1 p.m.

CIVR Blog: LGBT travel Catalina Island

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LGBT Flag

Catalina Island’s natural beauty and proximity to Southern California have long made it a popular getaway for gay and lesbian travelers. With dramatic natural beauty, extreme sports and one-of-a-kind environmental wonders, the island appeals to a diverse array of travelers and Avalon’s Mediterranean atmosphere, quaint shops and irresistible dining draw LGBT travelers from around the country.

Great spas, interesting shopping and unique restaurants make Avalon a frequent choice for a LGBT getaway, with Catalina’s reputation as the island of romance making it the perfect choice to inspire a new relationship or rekindle an old one. Engagement celebrations, honeymoons and anniversary getaways are just a few of the many reasons to plan a trip to Catalina Island.

With all the charm of destination wedding without the hassle of leaving the country, Catalina Island offers a range of options for a lesbian or gay wedding. Great venues are available to accommodate everything from a small ceremony with just the two of you to an epic gala with 500 of your closest friends. LGBT-friendly wedding vendors will help you arrange all the details of your special day, letting you concentrate on the love you share and the commitment you are making to one another.

CIVR Blog: Catalina transportation

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Golf carts a common choice for Catalina transportation

Golf carts are a common choice for Catalina transportation

One of the first things that visitors to Catalina Island notice is the prevalence of golf carts. Normally seen only on the links, these petite vehicles serve as primary transportation in Avalon, with families and individuals alike using golf carts for grocery shopping, errand running and visits with friends.

Unlike full-size vehicles, which have a 20-year-plus waiting list in Avalon, golf carts are available for every Avalon household, making them a viable alternative for travel within the city. Even though the vehicles are strictly prohibited in the interior of the island, they are effective on Avalon’s quaint streets and petite parking spots. Whether gasoline powered or electric, golf carts are an essential component of the Catalina transportation fabric.

Many of Catalina Island Vacation Rental properties, particularly those at Hamilton Cove, include the use of a golf cart during your stay. This convenient amenity provides guests with an opportune option for dinner transportation, grocery shopping and touring Avalon for which most visitors must pay $50 an hour. While Avalon is small and convenient enough to make walking your primary means of transportation, Catalina Island Vacation Rentals offers many properties with golf carts.

CIVR Blog: 26 Miles Across the Sea

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Catalina's reputation as the Island of Romance was cemented by the Four Preps' hit song

Catalina’s reputation as the Island of Romance was cemented by the Four Preps’ hit song

Santa Catalina Island has inspired artists and musicians for generations. The Channel Island’s natural beauty and serenity as well as the fact that it’s, well, an island seems to motivate the muse for many.

In the 1950s, that muse was motivated for Bruce Belland and Glen Larson who wrote 26 Miles. The song was recorded with the other two members of the Four Preps and the rest was history. 26 Miles (Santa Catalina) reached number two on the Billboard Top 100 in 1958 and has become an earworm for hundreds of thousands of people ever since.

Belland, who learned to play the ukelele at 15 while he was recovering from a broken ankle, used the four chords he knew on the instrument for the opening of the song. Its infectious lyrics brought renewed national prominence to Catalina Island’s reputation as “the Island of romance, romance, romance, romance.”

The relevance of 26 Miles didn’t end with bringing renewed popularity to this Southern California island. It also inspired a band that would become synonymous with Southern California beach culture and a musical icon of laid-back life. Brian Wilson of the Beach Boys and Jimmy Buffett were both heavily influenced by the song.

As for the song’s on-going influence? Ask anyone how far the island is from the mainland and they’ll tell you, “26 miles.” Except that it’s not. It just sounded good.

CIVR Blog: Catalina Island Conservancy volunteers

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Removing non-native plants is a key element in preserving the island's native ecology

Removing non-native plants is a key element in preserving the island’s native ecology

Catalina Island is home to an array of species found nowhere else on earth. Island ecosystems foster isolation, which in turn fosters specialization. Catalina Island Mahogany, St. Catherine’s Lace and Santa Catalina Island Ironwood are just a few of the seven endemic species that are found only on Santa Catalina Island.

Preserving and protecting those species is just part of the mission of the Catalina Island Conservancy, which is also charged with preserving the island’s entire ecosystem in perpetuity, as well as fostering education and recreation. Much of the Conservancy’s work happens in the interior of the island – and when it comes to plants that work happens at Middle Ranch, at the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery. A mecca for amateur and professional botanists alike, the Ackerman Native Plant Nursery is a wonderland of germination and propagation.

Most of the time, the nursery is the haunt of the Conservancy’s most senior botanists, but on Thursday mornings volunteers are welcome. Thursdays at the Nursery is one of many ways the Conservancy shares its important work with the general public. The days start early – at 7:15 – but volunteers get to enjoy a day in Catalina Island’s interior with the satisfaction of knowing they’ve contributed to the preservation of an island that means so much to so many. For more information about volunteering, visit the Catalina Island Conservancy website.

CIVR Blog: Catalina soapstone

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Catalina's airport was built near a historic  soapstone quarry

Catalina’s airport was built near a historic soapstone quarry

Catalina Island has been inhabited for thousands of years. Long before the first Europeans crossed the Atlantic, Pimu, as it was known, hosted generations of islanders, who created an Island based lifestyle and culture.

The island was generous to these original islanders. Fish, shellfish, marine mammals and native plants were their primary diet and they also utilized the island’s geology to create an extensive program of trade with Native Americans on the mainland. While shells and skins were most likely a key trade item, what the island was known for was soapstone. Also known as steatite, soapstone was used extensively both on the island and the mainland to create cooking pots and bowls. Catalina was one of only two known soapstone quarries in Southern California, making functional items created on the island sought after throughout the region.

The Catalina Island Museum collection contains an array of Catalina soapstone artifacts, both functional and decorative. Additional artifacts can be seen at Catalina’s Airport in the Sky, which has a large collection of native soapstone bowls. Visitors to the airport can also take a short hike to a nearby soapstone quarry, where islanders quarried bowls for use and trade with the mainland.

CIVR Blog: Oscar Night Catalina Island

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An Evening with Oscar is an elegant night in the Casino Ballroom on Catalina Island

An Evening with Oscar is an elegant night in the Casino Ballroom on Catalina Island

Catalina Island’s Casino Ballroom is one of the most elegant landmarks in Southern California. During the golden age of show business, its Moorish architecture and art deco design hosted some of the biggest stars in the Hollywood pantheon. It’s no wonder that one of the biggest events on the Catalina Island winter calendar takes place in the Casino Ballroom and celebrates Hollywood in grand style.

An Evening with Oscar is organized by the Catalina Island Medical Center Foundation and invites attendees to arrive dressed in black tie elegance or in costume as their favorite Hollywood star. The evening includes dinner, the Academy Award telecast and voting on Oscar favorites as well as live and silent auctions, all to benefit the Catalina Island Medical Center – the only source of medical care for Catalina’s residents and visitors. This year’s event is scheduled for Sunday, Feb. 22, to coincide with the Academy Awards telecast.

Tickets for An Evening with Oscar start at $75 per person and table sponsorships are available. The non-profit organization is the primary means of financial support for the medical center. Past events have raised funds for new radiology equipment, hospital renovations and more. For more information, including ticket information, visit the Catalina Island Medical Center Foundation website.

CIVR Blog: Little Harbor Catalina

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Little Harbor's wide sand beach makes it a popular destination for families.

Little Harbor’s wide sand beach makes it a popular destination for families.

Ask any local what their best recommendation is for a truly memorable Catalina Vacation and many of them will say “Get out of town.” They are right. Getting out of Avalon, whether for a tour, a hike or a multi-day expedition is the perfect way to see more of what this dramatic island has to offer.

Dozens of coves and beaches are waiting to be discovered, along with archeological treasures, unique wildlife and dramatic vistas. One of the most popular destinations outside of Avalon is Little Harbor, located on the windward side of Catalina Island. Although it’s located on the windward side, Little Harbor’s setting shields it from the pounding Pacific waves and it offers a relaxing wide sand beach on which to relax. The gradually sloping beach extends out into the shallow, protected cove, making Little Harbor on Catalina a perfect destination for those looking for a family-friendly destination.

This cove was home to generations of native islanders, who had an extensive village in the expansive meadow opposite the beach. That area is now home to a couple dozen campsites, which can be reserved through the Catalina Island Conservancy. Little Harbor can also be reached aboard the Safari Bus or through a private excursion.

CIVR Blog: Avalon School

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Avalon School is located in Avalon Canyon

Avalon School is located in Avalon Canyon

One of the most fascinating aspects of life on Catalina Island for many visitors is that many of us live on Catalina Island. Working and living here provides a number of rewards and challenges – and the fact that there is a full-time population of families here, means that there is a school here.

Avalon School on Catalina Island is actually three schools in one – elementary, middle and high school students attend classes at the same school. Part of the widely regarded Long Beach Unified School District, Avalon School serves about 650 kids a year, with each graduating class around 40-50 students. Like schools on the mainland, high school sports are a key component of the scholastic experience, with Avalon High School students competing in track, football, volleyball, basketball, softball, basketball and golf, among other athletic pursuits. Students travel to the mainland and other schools in their division travel to the island to compete. Avalon School also has an active theater and music program.

Avalon also has two pre-schools: a cooperative pre-school called PLAY, which operates out of the old Bird Park in Avalon Canyon; and Catalina Kid Ventures, which serves toddlers and preschoolers at its facility near Avalon City Hall.

CIVR Blog: Catalina winter getaway

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Catalina is a perfect spot for a long-term winter getaway

Catalina is a perfect spot for a long-term winter getaway

Catalina Island has long called to artists and writers. A muse to generations of creative individuals, the island offers a respite, where the cares of real life slip away and imagination can come to life. Whether you are looking to try out a new medium for your art, finish up your thesis or write the next great American novel this southern California island resort may be just the place to do it.

There’s no better time to connect with the muse that is Santa Catalina Island than in the winter. Although the days are shorter, life seems more concentrated during January and February. As in much of Southern California, Catalina Island weather is nearly always mild, with temperatures rarely dropping below 45 degrees, even on the coldest of nights. Winter is a great time to take a sabbatical and let your inspiration guide you. The Catalina off-season also presents a number of opportunities for housing. Quaint cottages, Avalon condos and Hamilton Villas alike are frequently available in the winter for longer stays. Catalina Island Vacation Rentals – and it’s friendly, knowledgeable staff—can provide a number of options for longer term rentals. Call  877.658.8376 for more information.