On August 7, generations of Chamber of Commerce Citizens
of the Year gathered at the Mermaid Tavern
(now called the Mountain Mermaid) for an historical photograph.

Fourteen former citizens of the year gathered in the warm August sun.
Top row from left: Bill Buerge, Rabyn Blake, Allen Emerson, Rosi Dagit, Randy Just, Lisa Villaseñor,
and Jack MacNeil. Bottom row, from left: Marty Brastow, Lee Kelly, Louise York, Susan Nissman,
Harriet Swenson, Linda Hinrichs and Pat MacNeil.


Jack Mac Neil kiddingly named the group, “the crème de la crypt of Topanga.” Far from that, this assembly of vital, giving, caring people is indeed the crème de la crème of our Canyon.

“We gathered together as many of the Citizens of the Year as we could,” said Michele Johnson, who is editing the updated version of “The Topanga Story,” the now out-of-print volume on the history of the Canyon. The group photo of these eminent Topangans will appear in the “Family Album” section of the book, which Johnson hopes to see in print by the summer of 2005.

Owner of the Mermaid, artist Bill Buerge provided cool beverages and the classic scenery. Harriet Swenson, elegant in a turquoise sweater and white summer suit, was accompanied by her daughter Nancy Williams. Harriet shared stories of community service and fundraising, then commented with a wink, one of our biggest money raisers was a basketball game, played in the Pacific Palisades gymnasium—the Topanga Chamber against the Hollywood Stars—where Chamber president Gary Venturi collided with Dennis Weaver (breaking the actor’s nose).

Allen Emerson proudly described the five Arson Watch teams he manages, Pat Mac Neil spoke of the importance of T-CEP, while others discussed creek cleanup, charity events for Topanga Elementary School and anti-development committees.

Fourteen former Citizens of the Year were present. Awardees not able to attend were Dean Penny, Melvin Penny, Jan Moore, Vic Richards, Warren Chase, Gary Davis, Dr. David Griffith, Bob Bates, Colin Penno and Liam Joyce.

So much service, so much giving and caring throughout the years—thank you to all of our Citizens of the Year!