Filmmakers met half a dozen Bay Area Panthers football players strolling the sidwalk

Several Bay Area Panthers take a moment for a photo with filmmakers Catherine Joy White (left) and Nina Georgieff in front of downtown Gilroy’s Neon Exchange.
Photo by Marty Cheek

By Robert Airoldi

Robert Airoldi

This year’s Poppy Jasper International Film Festival got off to a wonderful start at the pre-party event held at the swashbuckler-themed backyard of Morgan Hill “benevolent pirate” Rich Firato. About 50 guests — including many filmmakers — found themselves impressed by Morgan’s Cove, exploring its many wonders including a pirate ship, a poppy jasper “mine” and a treasure cave.

“The filmmakers are always blown away by how the festival starts. They can hardly believe Morgan’s Cove,” said festival director Mattie Scariot. “For me it’s perfect because the place is like a film location, and I think it really fits with the festival’s movie theme.”

A highlight of the evening was Gilroy’s own music maestro Ted Sanchez belting out Big Band era songs to entertain guests. Professional movie music maker Jared Michael Fry, who has composed the scores for blockbuster Hollywood flicks, praised: “That guy’s voice is amazing!”

“When the filmmakers show up as early as they did this year, it’s a sign of our success,” Scariot said.

Publisher Marty Cheek had a fun adventure driving up to San Francisco International Airport the night of April 8 to pick up two British filmmakers flying in from London. The next day, he treated his new friends, Catherine “Cat” Joy White and Nina Georgieff, to lunch in the patio at Old City Hall followed by a downtown tour.

When they stepped out of Toni Bowles’s Neon Exchange, they were surprised to meet half a dozen Bay Area Panthers football players strolling the sidwalk. They spent some time chatting and taking photos with them.

To their delight, the two women observed that people in the South Valley are uncommonly friendly. The Poppy Jasper is a warm and welcoming festival, they told Cheek.

“I wish I could have spent the whole afternoon with the filmmakers, they were both so much fun,” he said. “We enjoyed a great chat about films and the festival and lots of other stuff.”

Terry Moriyama with her pretty pup.

Get ready for a paw-ty in downtown Morgan Hill as four-legged fashionistas take over the streets for the annual Parade for Paws costume contest.

The wacky pup promenade starts 2 p.m. Saturday, April. 27, in the vacant lot next to Bubbles and Brew on the corner of Monterey Road and Fifth Street. (Check-in for contestants starts at 1 p.m. and entry fee is $25.)

The event benefits Air for Paws, a nonprofit that raises money to purchase oxygen masks for animals so first responders can lend a helping paw to save our furry friends in emergency situations.

It will take place at the same time as the Downtown Morgan Hill Association’s annual Wine Stroll. Judges will look for canine contestants wearing elaborate costumes to win prizes in various “cat”-egories including most creative, funniest, best tail-wagger, best owner-dog combo and crowd favorite.

Dog owners from across the South Valley will parade their pooches in outrageous getups — think space aliens, dinosaurs, and banana suits, and Fido in a tutu. From pugs dressed as tacos to labs donning superhero capes, they’ll take a stroll along a “cat”walk runway, showing off absurdly cute canines in absurd costumes for an afternoon outing guaranteed to produce a howling fun time.

“Join in or just come and watch the parade,” said Air for Paws founder Terry Moriyama. “You’ll have a dog-gone good time!”

Air For Paws has provided more than 2,000 animal resuscitation kits for first responders in 47 states as well as internationally. During emergencies, such as fires or accidents, animals can be exposed to smoke or toxic fumes, leading to respiratory distress.

Rachel Perez

Hooray for our good friend Rachel Perez! She was named by Speaker Robert Rivas (D-Salinas) the California State Assembly Woman of the Year for the 29th Assembly District

Throughout her career, Perez has shown a profound dedication to educating young people. In 1989, she was recognized as Teacher of the Year by Gilroy Unified School District. She is responsible for overseeing the establishment of the Gavilan College noncredit program, which has offered free services to thousands of students since its inception. In total, Perez devoted 43 years to ensuring student success before her retirement in 2014.

Perez has remained dutifully involved in the Gilroy community. She currently serves as vice president on the Gavilan College Board of Trustees, a position she was elected to in 2016. Additionally, her family helped organize the Latino Family Fund de Gilroy to offer specialized programs, grants, and scholarships for young Latinos in the community. Perez currently serves as the organization’s chair.

“Rachel has committed her entire life and career to educating and uplifting our young people,” Rivas said. “I’m proud she is the 29th Assembly District’s Woman of the Year, and I thank her for everything she does to improve student outcomes!”

Perez told us she’s grateful to be recognized.

“As a mother and lifelong educator, I know our young people have bright futures ahead of them,” she said. “It has been my goal to support every student along their academic journey. It brings me so much joy and pride to see the amazing things my students have gone on to achieve and I am honored to have been able to help them along.”