Thanksgiving | Thankful Thoughts from South Pasadenans

We asked some in the community to give their thanks on Thanksgiving. Why not take a moment and ask yourself: What am I thankful for?

Thanksgiving in South Pasadena | A time to reflect on a year of hope, success, and growth

Oprah Winfrey once said: “Be thankful for what you have, you end up having more. If you concentrate on what you don’t have, you will never, ever have enough.”

Those words closely resemble what my now 32-year-old son Michael once told me – “Be thankful for what you have, not what you don’t have.”

As I launch into my retirement years, those words grow stronger. I’ve always been thankful for the relationship I have with Michael, and a new one I’m enjoying with a wonderful lady in my life – Diane – as we continue to explore fascinating new places in our travels. I’m also grateful for the many lasting friendships I’ve made over the years in South Pasadena – a city that truly has been a big part of my life.

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Sometimes I think about not having as much as others, but then I think, why would I want anything more?

Maybe this anonymous quote says it best: “It is not happy people who are thankful. It is thankful people who are happy.”

And, well, I’m fortunate to say I’m happy to continually write about South Pasadenans, something I’ve been blessed to do for 26 years.

With that, I’d like to extend to you and yours a happy Thanksgiving!

We asked some in the community, “What are you thankful for?” Here’s what they had to say:

Dear SPUSD Community,

“Appreciation is a wonderful thing. It makes what is excellent in others belong to us as well.” – Voltaire

Thank you – two simple words that carry so much meaning. As we enter this season of Thanksgiving, I want to make sure to tell you how much I appreciate you and how thankful I am to lead such a passionate group of faculty, staff, school administrators, parents, and students. Unwavering dedication and a spirit of cooperation are apparent every day within South Pasadena Unified School District.

A commitment to student success is at the heart of how we approach teaching, learning, and carrying out our day-to-day responsibilities. The support that our District receives from SPEF, the PTAs and Booster Clubs is critical and illustrates how committed our community is to providing high-quality, educational opportunities. These organizations also go above and beyond by providing community engagement activities for SPUSD families to socialize and grow together. They consistently offer long-standing, annual events and also introduce new opportunities for SPUSD families to experience.

We also are thankful for the Parcel Tax “Measure S” funding that our District receives. This funding, combined with the support of our community groups, provides nearly 10% of the revenue for the District and funds valuable school programs and services.

Thank you also to our strong school board leaders including Dr. Ruby Kalra who has volunteered and devoted so much time and effort to South Pasadena Unified in various roles throughout the District for more than 20 years. We are looking forward to working with our new school board member, Karen Tamis, who will join the board in December 2022.

Your commitment to the success of our students is so appreciated. We hope you can connect with loved ones and give yourself time to rest and recharge for the rest of the school year ahead. Have a wonderful and safe Thanksgiving week.


Geoff Yantz, Ed.D., Superintendent South Pasadena Unified School District

No. 1, I am thankful that all of my family members survived the pandemic. Second, almost every day I marvel at the fact that we no longer have to wear masks at all times when we are in public. I still have stockpiles of extra masks, plastic gloves and cleaning supplies in my car and my office, reminding me what a different world we lived in just a year ago.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Mike Thurman, President of SPHS Alumni Association

I’m grateful for meeting my granddaughter – Katie Hirata – for the first of three times this year after her May 2021 birth in Hawaii. Never imagined such a smile would top a Kirk Gibson World Series home run!

Mark Langill, Team Historian – Los Angeles Dodgers

This year I’m incredibly thankful for all the support from the community as I embarked on the campaign for city treasurer. I cannot be more grateful for our community as they rallied behind this important election for our city. I’m thankful for my family, health and the most amazing neighbors. I look forward to serving as city treasurer and wish everyone a warm and joyous holiday.

Zhen Tao, City Treasurer-elect

I’m thankful for big things and small things. Freedom and the rule of law; more inclusive paradigms of community; conscientious neighbors; dedicated city leadership and team members; 80s music; Cheetos.

Jon Primuth, Mayor Pro Tem

The holiday season is always a special time of year. It provides me with time to reflect back and think of all that I am thankful for. First and foremost, I am thankful for my loving family, those present who celebrate with me this year, and those that echo in memory. They are the foundation for the accomplishments and successes I have enjoyed.

I am grateful for the support of caring and loyal friends, a supportive community, and a dynamic city to work for. I am also appreciative of the freedoms and liberties this nation affords and for those who have sacrificed to provide them. I wish each and everyone in this community a safe and happy holiday.

Brian Solinsky, South Pasadena Chief of Police

I’m thankful to teach my students in person and unmasked.

Mark Afram, English Teacher – South Pasadena High School

I’m thankful to live in a free country with endless opportunity and a thriving family, and to have the ability and resources to effect change for the better locally and globally.

Dave Kinnoin – Owner, songwriter, music producer, singer at Song Wizard Records in South Pasadena

I’m thankful of the blessings that my children have provided. They are mindful and purposeful in their lives. These are qualities that I’m thankful in the support that I rely on everyday.

Jose Zavala, Tiger Run Coordinator

There is so much I have to be thankful for this year, including a healthy family, that the great people of South Pasadena renewed Measure LL to support the library in the future, and, of course, brisk morning walks with Lynn and our dog, Dusty.

Dean Serwin, President – Library Board of Trustees and President of the Oneonta Club

This year I’m thankful for volunteerism. So much of what makes South Pasadena athletics above and beyond are the volunteers behind-the-scenes that make great experiences. I am thankful for the volunteers who become team parents, join the Bingo Committee, take a role on Booster Club, or just bring snacks to the games. Contributions, little or small, to our student-athletes don’t go unnoticed.

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Anthony Chan, SPHS Athletic Director

Beyond being most thankful for all the family and friends in my life I am truly grateful to be in a position to assist others in the community. There are some truly wonderful and generous people in South Pasadena.

Happy Thanksgiving!

William Cullinane, President of the South Pasadena Senior Citizen’s Foundation

I am thankful for faith, family, friends and good health! Wishing you very happy holidays!

Paul Riddle, Fire Chief City of South Pasadena

I’m thankful for the great fishing season this year has been!  But most importantly I’m thankful for seeing all my friends and family being able to enjoy our health, each other, our communities.

Jason Mak, Chair – South Pasadena Chamber of Commerce

I am thankful for my family, friends, health, and the opportunity to serve our wonderful community here in South Pasadena.

Shannon Robledo, South Pasadena Police Lieutenant

This year I am grateful for some very simple things. I am so proud to see my son thriving and looking forward to having an adventurous life after high school. I am thankful to see my wife put pen to paper and complete the book I know the world needs to read. I am thankful to work side by side with my fellow Measure LL committee members and once again see the residents of South Pas affirm their belief in our community. And I am always grateful to work with all of the amazing musicians and songwriters that come into my life and trust me to help them create their art.

Ed Donnelly, Public Safety Commission Chair

This year I’m especially thankful for retiring from Shawn, Moses, Mendenhall Insurance after 28 years. Thankful for realizing that sometimes you can’t change the world but you can make your city and community better by volunteering. I’m always grateful for our sons, their wives, four healthy, bright grandchildren and, most importantly, for Lin, my wife and best friend.

Alan Vlacich, S.P. Tournament of Roses Volunteer

I am thankful for a supportive community, friends to celebrate life with, my beautiful children and amazing family, and for the sun that shines down everyday. I am so very thankful for the peace we experience but hardly acknowledge.

Yuki Cutcheon, President of South Pasadena Chinese American Club

I am thankful for my three children and amazing husband, along with extended family, who continue to be my biggest support system along with my City of South Pasadena family. This year in particular, I am extra grateful for my parents and in-laws because their unwavering support means the world to me.

Arminé Chaparyan, City Manager – City of South Pasadena

I give thanks for my faith, my wife, my family, for life, and for the precious freedom we have. I am enriched with South Pasadena friendship and community. May Thanksgiving be a blessed time for all.

Bob Joe, Former South Pasadena Mayor

Thank you to voters of South Pasadena who confirmed that the library is the heart and soul of the city by renewing the Library Special Tax Nov. 8.

Sally Kilby, Member, South Pasadena Loves Our Library Committee for Measure LL

On behalf of all that are served by our office of Life, Justice, & Peace, we are thankful for the many donations that are received that allow us to assist those most in need. We are thankful for nutritious food, warm clothing, and the friendly smiles of our volunteers. We are thankful to build relationships with those that come to us. We are thankful for this generous community!

Happy Thanksgiving to all!

Marlene Moore, Holy Family Church – Director of Life, Justice & Peace

I am extremely grateful and thankful for our community for supporting the passage of Measure PCC. Your support will fund new and improved facilities at Pasadena City College, allowing PCC to continue to provide affordable educational opportunities. I am also thankful for my family and friends.

Kristine Kwong, PCC Trustee Representing South Pasadena

As I have now been honored to serve this special small town for nearly 22 years on the city council, I am grateful more and more each day for those who make our unique community possible. The unselfish service of our dozens of citizen volunteers on our commissions, our library volunteers, senior center volunteers, our many service clubs and organizations, our engaged faith community and their volunteers, our volunteers who coach, referee, and assist with AYSO and our Little League Programs, our Chamber of Commerce and merchants who give back to the community; our dedicated city staff and elected officials at all levels who work overtime to tirelessly serve our community!

Michael Cacciotti, Mayor of South Pasadena

I’m grateful for the opportunity to represent my City for nine years, and to feel confident my district will be well represented by my successor. I am profoundly grateful for the good health my entire family, especially my husband and senior mother, enjoy. There’s no substitute!

Diana Mahmud, Councilmember