Thanksgiving 2020 | Thankful for Getting Through a Year of Uncertainty

Community members express what they are grateful for, from our first responders, to teachers and grocery workers, as the world continues to face the challenges of the coronavirus dominating the news 

In a year full of uncertainty, we can all be thankful for something with the arrival of Thanksgiving.

It has been difficult to find any sign of gratefulness as the coronavirus continues to take its toll on the world’s population. A public health crises, coupled with a statewide curfew, rising hospital rates, mental health concerns — furthered by social justice protests, unrelenting wildfires, hurricanes and a heavily waged presidential election — have dominated much of the news cycle, disrupting lives everywhere in a dreadful year.

Yet, during a time when so many are struggling emotionally and economically, it’s important to look to family and friends – staying six feet apart, of course – for support and comfort as we all weather the storm of the unrelenting virus.

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Recognizing a vaccine is on the way and some sort of normalcy is within sight, make sure to continue to reach out and say thank you to our first responders – doctors, nurses, other medical professionals, and police and fire department officials – who are available for us all hours of the day and night, and express your sincere gratitude.

Pay special tribute to farmers, truckers and grocery workers who have all helped to bring the Thanksgiving meal to the table.

Our teachers deserve special recognition, many educating students remotely online – no easy task these days – to continually inspire young people in pursuing their dreams.

Perhaps, the biggest thanks should go to our military, located all around the globe, providing peace and tranquility for the rest of us.

Should you find yourself going it solo this year, avoiding others to lessen the spread of COVID-19, it might be the perfect time to make good use of online streaming services by taking in a movie during the holiday.

Finding yourself alone, reminds me of a humorous line delivered in a text this week by South Pasadenan Publisher Steven Lawrence, who was able to find some levity for those not venturing out this year in light of the pandemic: “I still don’t know what I’m wearing to the living room for Thanksgiving…I might not go.”

Make the best of your Thanksgiving everyone.

The following are some thoughts from community members as we welcome Thanksgiving 2020 at a time when we’re thankful to get through it.


Through all the trials and tribulations of this unprecedented year, may we all find hope and thankfulness this thanksgiving season. On this Thanksgiving Day let us be thankful for what we have, for the family we love, the friends we cherish, and for the blessings that will come.

Bob Joe

South Pasadena Mayor


I am thankful to be an American, warts and all.  Living in a community that is so responsive to the needs of others and to have friends and family who are also deeply caring makes me thankful. Finally, elastic waist bands make me thankful, especially during Covid!

Mary Urquhart

WISPPA President


I am most humbled, thankful and inspired by friends, shopkeepers, city staff and family that have shown incredible resilience, creative “outside the box” thinking and look for the silver lining day after day.  They have all been there to provide reality checks and comic relief when its been needed most.  The humanity of people reaching out to help others, working harder than they ever imagined, and the continuing focus on what’s really important has never been more apparent than this most unusual 2020.  I am very blessed to know and work with so many incredible people – thank you all!

Laurie Wheeler

SP Chamber of Commerce President


I am grateful this Thanksgiving for the Wonderful community we call South Pasadena and the special people who work tirelessly to make us one of the most desirable places to live in the Western USA. Our city commissioners and volunteers who sacrifice many hours each year to improve our quality of life.  Our residents who worked persistently this past year to redirect our city administration and majority of our city council back to our core mission of outstanding service to our residents: those residents who advocate for clean air, water and a sustainable lifestyle: those who advocate for racial, economic, and environmental justice; those over 100 city staff who dedicate their careers to serving our and protecting our community every day!

Michael Cacciotti

SP City Council Member


I am thankful for my friends and family. I am thankful for all of the front line workers who have been going to work everyday for the last 9 months. I am thankful for my family’s health. I am thankful for all the business owners who work very hard staying afloat.  I am thankful to be surrounded by all the amazing people that I am associated with…social distanced of course. And I am thankful that 2020 is almost over. Have a great Thanksgiving!

Brant Dunlap

President of SPTOR


I’m thankful for South Pasadena.  The community has come together to support our schools, staff, and student-athletes.  I am grateful to work with so many people who want to support our kids and place their trust in our ability to run the best possible programs.

Anthony Chan

SPHS Athletic Director


I am in gratitude and thankful for my life with Peggy, good health, faithful friends and the blessing to have had the good fortune and privilege to have owned Reimagine Your Home for 27 years in our wonderful South Pasadena community.

John Vandercook

Active Community Member


I am thankful for my Faith, Family and Friends! I have needed each of them equally to be able to meet the challenges of this year.

Paul Riddle

SPHS Fire Chief


During these incredibly challenging times, I am so very grateful for my family and for the (virtual) love and support I receive from my South Pasadena friends and neighbors. I know how difficult this past year has been for our students and families, and I am so proud of and grateful for our district’s teachers, staff and administrators. I know first hand how hard they are working, often sacrificing time with their families, to support the educational and social/emotional needs of our students.

Michele D. Kipke, PhD

SPUSD School Board President


I am thankful for the silver linings that 2020 has brought: more time for family meals, more time to reflect about life, priorities, friends, and most importantly, focusing on our collective mental, physical, spiritual health and well-being. I continue to believe we need to develop a collective consciousness to bring humanity together, addressing racial and ethnic injustices, using the power of hope and action to create a better world.

Laura Farber

Former TOR President


This year, I am especially thankful for my two older brothers. Together, we hugged, laughed, and cried as we cleaned out my dad’s house after his passing on September 15 at the age of 89. The three of us are now without parents, but we have each other.

Karen Reed

SPUSD Assistant Superintendent Human Resources


The Thanksgiving tradition started in Plymouth as a celebration not only of a bountiful harvest but also a celebration of cooperation and community.  That spirit continues here in South Pasadena where our friends and neighbors selflessly support each other. The challenges of the past nine months have been met with a determination and generosity that is unrivaled. I am thankful to live here and to serve the residents of our city.

Ed Donnelly

South Pasadena Volunteer Grocery Shoppers


I’m thankful that during uncertain times, there are still people in the world who have always practiced being a good “teammate,” whether at home with family, in the community helping the less fortunate, as front-line workers in field of health care, or the grocery store employees. Now is the opportunity to appreciate and emulate.

Mark Langill

Dodgers Historian


I am thankful that all Library staff remain healthy and that we have been able to continue to come to work and provide library services to South Pasadena residents. I am also thankful for the library customers who have been so supportive and taken the time to express their appreciation. And also thankful that they always wear their masks when they come to pick up their Library Takeout!

Cathy Billings

Director of SP Library


I am thankful that the Rialto Theatre is seeing new life after 35+ years advocating for it!  It takes a town that cares about history, that values memories passed down between generations, and that takes pride in the things that make it unique. So I guess I am really thankful to the people of South Pasadena who are real Friends of the Rialto!

Escott O. Norton

Founder, Friends of the Rialto


“When we give thanks for everyday things, we make them visible again. When we’re able to do that, numerous studies suggest, we give our happiness a little boost and train our brains to see the good, even amid so much bad.”

Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Jeremy Adam Smith

Greater Good Magazine, October 2020


Showing gratitude during a pandemic sometimes feels like a challenging thing to do. We are exposed daily to stories in the media about rising COVID rates, social unrest and political uncertainty. When the news is dark, the big stories seem loud and overwhelming and affect how we approach each day. Throughout this time, it is even more important to uncover the everyday things that—as the quote above mentions—may help improve our overall outlook.

Within the South Pasadena Unified School District, we have much to be thankful for including a strong community of students, parents, faculty and staff who support our public school system. The citizens of South Pasadena regularly go out of their way to ensure that our students’ minds, hearts and bodies are growing and learning every day. We are especially thankful for SPEF, our educational foundation, and local groups such as the PTAs and Booster Clubs that help bridge the gap between dwindling State funding and the funding that is needed to grow programs and services that enhance educational opportunities for our students. These organizations further help create a sense of community and commitment to our public school system.

Also, during these last few months when our students have been learning remotely, we are grateful that our team has been able to continue the many construction projects that started prior to the closure. Because of Measure SP funding, we have been able to complete the SPHS athletic facilities, which students and the community will be able to use once we are back to in-person learning. In addition, the SPMS old gymnasium rehabilitation project is scheduled for completion in early 2021. The building will house a new black box theater for drama, dance and other related functions as well as a new visual arts room and a lab.

We also are fortunate to work with strong, school board leaders. We’re thankful for the years of volunteer service given by Jon Primuth in his roles both as a parent, SPEF board member, and school board member, and we wish him luck in his new role as a member of the South Pasadena City Council. His wisdom and never-ending commitment to students within South Pasadena will be greatly missed. We look to the future with hopeful eyes and welcome our returning school board member, Dr. Suzie Abajian, and our new school board member, Dr. Patricia Martinez-Miller, who will join the board in December 2020.

When we emerge from this pandemic and return to school, we will be stronger; we will have learned many new skills; we will have implemented many new, creative solutions for our students; and we will be far more resilient than we ever imagined.

Thank you for your support. I am very appreciative of all the opportunities we are able to offer our students and look forward to our future together.

With much gratitude,

Geoff Yantz, Ed.D.

SPUSD Superintendent