The Friends of Heritage Square (FHS) is a volunteer organization based in the historic Heritage Square in Oxnard, committed not only to preserving but to sharing the history of the city. Chair Kay Brainard will lead the FHS Tea Committee in hosting its annual Spring Tea on May 13. The event, themed “1920s by the Sea,” will serve as public education and fundraising to support FHS programs. The theme is based on Hollywood’s influence on Oxnard in the 1920s; FHS members will be in period costumes and attendees are encouraged to dress up for a chance to win a prize.
“There will be a program on the table for each guest, which will have fun facts about life and culture in the ’20s. Each guest will receive a Learn the Lingo card that contains a popular phrase of the day. We want people to feel that they are immersed into another time period,” explained Connie Korenstein, FHS tea committee member.
After Oxnard’s incorporation in 1903, the city was still very small — albeit developing — when Hollywood swept in nearly 20 years later and made its mark. In 1921, the city’s sandy dunes were used in the filming of The Sheik, which earned massive box office success. Oxnard’s coastline gained fame as a tourist site among Rudolph Valentino’s fans, and as a getaway destination for celebrities and a shooting location for studios. Consequently, real estate developers capitalized on the growing attraction and soon after, the beach communities of Hollywood Beach, Silver Strand and Hollywood by the Sea were formed. The filming that had brought Hollywood to Oxnard, however, soon declined as the beachside residence population increased and prime shooting property became unavailable.
The nearly 90 attendees expected by FHS will learn more about this history through a guest speaker from that era.
“She’s a fictitious character based on the well-known gossip columnist of Hollywood, Hedda Hopper. She’ll share some of the news events of Oxnard in the ’20s as well as talk about the stars and the movies that were made here,” Korenstein said.
That’s not all.
Sally Stanford, a notorious bootlegger who lived in Ventura during Prohibition, will appear in character and costume to interact with the attendees and prepare “Prohibition cocktails.” Food will be catered by Oxnard’s La Dolce Vita Restaurant, pianist Ray Mautner will play live 1920s music, and a selection of vendors (including a 1920s boutique) will host a marketplace for last-minute Mother’s Day shopping.
1920s by the Sea seating and tea service will begin at 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, May 13, at Heritage Square, 715 S. A St., Oxnard. The marketplace will open at 11 a.m. For more information, call 483-7960 or visit www.heritagesquare.com.