After feast comes frolic: Festival of Lights Parade set for Sunday

Town Crier File Photo
The Festival of Lights Parade rolls into downtown Sunday evening.

The 38th annual Festival of Lights Parade, with its floats, bands and costumed characters, is scheduled to light up downtown Los Altos 6 p.m. Sunday along Main and State streets.

This year’s hourlong affair features 59 entries, according to parade volunteer and spokeswoman Nancy Schneider. Entries include 22 floats and marching bands from Los Altos, Mountain View, Homestead, St. Francis and Fremont high schools, among others. Costumed performers from classic fairy tales will be marching along, including new “Alice group cards,” according to Schneider. The popular Snow Queen and her court also will be on hand, waving to the crowd.


Local businessman launched international chicken phenomenon

Town Crier File Photo
Los Altos businessman Pete Harman’s legacy includes his downtown Kentucky Fried Chicken franchise.

Longtime Los Altos businessman Leon Weston “Pete” Harman, Kentucky Fried Chicken’s first franchisee, died Nov. 19. He was 95.

Mr. Harman’s family restaurant had grown into a multinational phenomenon after he allied with Col. Harland Sanders to dish up Kentucky Fried Chicken. As the chain’s initial franchisee, Harman and his wife, Arline, built a large food service corporation, Harman Management Corp., and for the last half century based it on First Street in Los Altos. First Street also hosted a KFC branch through the mid-1990s.


Death by drought: LAH faces pine loss

Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier
The Los Altos Hills County Fire District has removed 2,872 dying trees in the past few years. O’Keefe Lane, above, was particularly hard hit.

Extracting fallow trees is a full-time job for Stu Farwell, who operates the Los Altos Hills County Fire District’s Dead Tree Program.

Although private property owners have kept his team busy with assessments and tree removals since the program launched in 2000, in recent months they have reported an uptick in requests to clear away dead or dying Monterey pine trees. The fire district has removed 2,872 trees since 2011 – the majority of which were pine species, according to Farwell.


Monitoring, new tools may help fend off flu epidemic

Top Photo by Ellie Van Houtte/Town Crier; Above Screen capture from
To prevent the flu from spreading, Bullis Charter School students receive hand wipes as they enter the classroom, above. Apps like SickWeather, left, track flu outbreaks.

In cyclical fashion, the flu season emerges each fall, prompting a rush to local pharmacies and doctors’ offices for preventive shots or nasal sprays.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that between 5 and 20 percent of the population fall victim to the virus each year. The CDC recommends flu shots for everyone 6 months of age and older. Although a flu shot is highly effective in preventing the onset of influenza – a CDC study reports a 77 percent reduction in flu-related hospitalizations for vaccinated adults over the age of 50 – risks still exist, particularly if those who are contagious act irresponsibly.


Bark beetles targeting drought-weakened trees in Los Altos

Courtesy of City of Los Altos
Red turpentine beetles leave a pink substance when tunneling into pine trees.

A little pest has been wreaking havoc on pine trees in Los Altos, according to city officials.

Rangel Reynoso, the city’s interim maintenance supervisor, told the Town Crier that an infestation of bark beetles – specifically red turpentine beetles – has caused more than a dozen Monterey pine trees on city property to die in recent weeks.


Police stress need for low speed in school zones

Town Crier File Photo
After two recent accidents involving cyclists and motorists, police urge caution – on both sides.

After two recent incidents of vehicles striking student bicyclists, Los Altos Police urge residents to exercise caution when traveling through school zones.

An Oct. 17 bicyclist-vehicle accident at the intersection of Magdalena Avenue and Foothill Expressway resulted in a local elementary school student being transported to the hospital with minor injuries.


Former symphony executive pleads no contest

Former Peninsula Symphony Executive Director Stephen Jay Carlton recently pleaded no contest to six felony counts, according to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office.

According to Deputy DA Judy Lee, Carlton entered a no-contest plea Sept. 23 to single counts of grand theft, identity theft and embezzlement and three counts of forgery.


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