Kids and their families got to run, jumping jack, walk, bike and more all over South Pasadena during a fun (and sun) filled weekend last Saturday and Sunday, as onlookers saw the city come alive. For anyone curious as to why the streets were packed with more exuberance than usual (thanks much in part to the seemingly endless supply provided by kids), it can be linked to the Arroyo Vista PTA, who hosted the ‘AV Golden Shoe Adventure’.
In lieu of the annual Jog-a-thon traditionally held on the school’s campus, the scope took a drastic but welcome turn as organizers had to reconceptualize a COVID-safe alternative, where social distancing and masks were mandatory. So came the idea for a city-wide scavenger hunt involving the school, student families and local businesses. Jumping between 15 different locations, participants gathered clues to piece together, coming ever closer to the ultimate goal of finding the enigmatic ‘Golden Shoe’.
While fun was the top priority, equally important was the goal to raise money for the school. Pledges and donations were gathered in the weeks leading up to the school’s biggest annual fundraiser, with palpable excitement from students for the big day. “We had a kindergartner who asked his parents everyday for two weeks when the Golden Shoe was,” says Jennifer Wang, one of the event co-chairs, working alongside fellow co-chairs Keri Tuazon and Stella Jang. She was surprised to hear that the student “thought an ad on the radio was for (it)… his parents said it was like his Superbowl!”
Student endeavors did not go unrewarded either as the top prize, the “Golden Shoe” trophy, would be given to classes from each grade with the highest per student average based on four qualifications: number of locations completed, number of pledges turned in, most money raised, and most AV spirit during the adventure. Additionally, special medals were given to individual students who raised the most money and pledges.
Pit stops at popular shops also saw some families bringing appetites and patronage, from cafes to toy stores like Jones Coffee Roasters and the Dinosaur Farm. “In addition to providing a special activity for the AV families to enjoy, the AV PTA wanted to highlight and support some of the small businesses in our lovely city of South Pasadena,” says Wang.
The route — which took about 1-2 hours, depending on the pace — guided students through sets of challenges at some locations, the first of which being a chance to show off dance moves with AV mascot Whiskers and Principal Kim Sinclair at the SPUSD district office. QR codes at locations commenced and continued the adventure, as each scan revealed special video messages containing clues created by beloved AV faculty: Christine Malach, Helena Yee, Julie Littlefield, Brian Jehue, Rich Fiedler, Kyle Bender, Jillian Jones, Heather Jara, Laura Ishibashi, Reina Rogers, Lisa Clark, Sharon Reed, Ann Davis-Martinez and Principal Kim Sinclair, AV Staff Anthony Ross, and AV Mascot Whiskers.
Blazing the Golden Shoe trail took Wildcats to landmarks that included:
- Nicole’s Market
- The Library Tree
- Berry Opera
- Dinosaur Farm
- Hotbox Vintage
- Square Deal Barbers
- Munch Co.
- The Red Shoe
- Jones Coffee Roasters
- The Walking Man at the Metro Goldline Station
- and Orange Grove Park
Xochipilli Castro, a parent and volunteer overseeing the Library Tree check-in station, encouraged kids — and sometimes parents — as they powered through sets of 20 jumping jacks. “I grew up in South Pasadena (and) my daughter goes to school here. So I’m just so excited and proud to be representing the school and also promoting activity,” she told the South Pasadenan News, adding that it was motivating to see parents “get in there and move along with the(ir) kids.”
“I loved seeing the kiddos jumping with joy with their parents and friends when they found Hotbox searching for their next clue!” said Delilah Rabina of HotBox Vintage, where kids played in the parking lot as some parents perused iconic, timeless fashions. “It was great to see families exploring the city together and enjoying the perfect first day of spring. It was beautiful!”
When all was said and done, a total of 331 AV student participants were counted, though accounting for siblings, parents, grandparents, and friends, Wang says the number of overall participants was “most likely over 800.” 4,634 QR codes were scanned as well, showing great engagement, while 6,620 jumping jacks were completed and 662 total miles were walked.
With the finish line in sight, a big sign planted on the front lawn of Arroyo Vista Elementary congratulated the intrepid Wildcats for finishing their journey while refreshing popsicles were handed out as rewards by volunteers Cindy Shin and Jennifer Koca, with co-chair Jang. The Golden Shoe, a giant balloon sculpture created by South Pasadena’s very own Ballusionist was the centerpiece for many a photo op. Jang, who is also a parent at Arroyo Vista, found that families responded very well to the large-scale event, perhaps even more so than the school’s annual Jog-a-Thon, leading to the PTA’s consideration to make Golden Shoe the new annual fundraiser. Admiring the commitment and spirit from families, the trio said, “We hope you had a great time, thank you for supporting the school! (We) really feel like AV has such good families and teachers who participate and just are always involved in events like this. Thank you to all the families!”