From left, Arleene Sommer, Gail McDonald-Tune, Paul Ferra and Melissa Oliver with their daughter, Sami; Jordan Lederer (rear), Pam Hawley, director of Cali-Camp and Buz Tarlow, president of the Topanga Historical Society at its annual community potluck picnic at Big Rock Ranch on Sunday, Oct. 14.
The landmark Big Rock Ranch, home of Cali Camp, was the location for the Topanga Historical Societys annual potluck picnic on Sunday, Oct. 14.
More than 50 members gathered with their families and friends under the spreading oak trees on a gorgeous afternoon to enjoy the great outdoors and delicious food.
Gail McDonald-Tune decorated the tables with fragrant branches of herbs, including sage and rosemary, from her garden.
Located on Old Topanga Canyon Road, the ranch spans more than 20 acres of coastal woodlands situated against the majestic Santa Monica Mountains.
Topangans Paul Ferra and Melissa Oliver, realtors with Coldwell Banker generously hosted the Topanga Historical Society and guests.
In the past, this property was not shared with Topanga, Oliver said. Our purpose is to open it up to the community.
Beyond Cali Camp, the couple envisions opening up a senior center, teen center, public garden, a theater, as well as ongoing education and recreation classes.
They said they are also engaging in a wide-ranging discussion with Topangans to create a music and arts center, theater, yoga, Pilates and offer a host of ongoing activities.
Ferra opened the program by thanking the Society and the Topanga community for its support and to offer the group self-guided tours of the facility that has been completely transformed over the past year.
He invited the picnickers to tour the property that includes an Olympic-sized pool, tennis courts, two large horse arenas, a bucolic picnic area, a school complex, library, offices and a state-of-the-art kitchen with an outdoor pizza oven.
We feel privileged to be here, Ferra said to the group. We want this property to be open to you; we would love it to be filled all the time.
Currently, the Canyon Sages and others use the pool on Tuesdays and Thursdays.
Cali Camp director Pam Hawley described how the camp has grown and thrived this past year, hosting more than 1500 campers during the winter and summer sessions.
As the camps director for 20 years, Hawley began working there as a counselor in 1976. Over the years, she has welcomed the children of Dustin Hoffman, O.J. Simpson, Diana Ross and Tom Hanks, among others.
We have opened up to underprivileged children and foreign students from all over the world, she said. With the beauty brought about by Paul and Melissa we will keep Cali Camp running forever.
Meanwhile, Ed ONeill, treasurer of the Society, reported that they raised more than $200 in new memberships and the raffle for the Topanga Story, was won by Bristol Garcia.
Buz Tarlow, president of the Historical Society, thanked Oliver and Ferra for their generosity in hosting the event: Its a beautiful location, with great food and wonderful people, he said. Whats not to love?