The Rossmoor Homeowners Association couldn’t have asked for more perfect weather for the Rossmoor Community Festival.
Bev Houghton, in charge of checking vendors in, had the happy problem of finding room for more vendors than expected. She was in constant motion prior to the opening of the Festival, shuffling assigned booth locations and squeezing in more spaces.
The Orange County Sheriff’s Department had blocked off a portion of the parking lot along Blume Dr. to reserve room not only for a Harbor Patrol boat but also for a helicopter.
Vendors helped each other locate their spaces and plant E-Z Up tents.
Orange County Breeze ended up (after some confusion on our part) in space A-27, most of the way to Chianti Drive.
We set up across from Denali Solar and next to a new web-based cupcake business.
On our other side, Primerica had a bowl of Tootsie Pops and offered free face painting.
Down the walk a ways past a booth for Republican Women Federated, a gentleman named Denny offered samples of flavored balsamic vinegars.
In the other direction, American Legion Post 857 from Seal Beach offered visitors wrapped candies. (To be precise, they had a small red plastic dish of Tootsie Rolls on their display table.)
Soon we were greeting people, answering their questions about Orange County Breeze, describing our new monthly print edition and handing out free flying discs and beach balls.
Shortly after 10 a.m., We Care staged its High Heel Dash along Chianti Dr.
The official winners of the High Heel Dash’s heats:
- Children under 13: Carson Mucho and Grace Amoretashami
- Teen girl: Meghan Esposito
- Men: Hess Blankenship
- Women: Haley Balthrop
- Strutters: Susan Rivers
- Costume: Rachel Demarco
- Seniors: Karen Reynoso
The main stage offered a variety of entertainment from a children’s magician to bands.
The trackless train snaked in and around the vendor booths, the car show (did you see the Rockne? and the Model A?) and the children’s rides.
Just about the time that everyone began thinking about lunch, a commotion caught our attention. (I had just come back to our booth from scouting the car show.)
Suddenly, the cupcake lady next to us was folding her display table and striking her tent.
When we asked the general air what was happening, one of the women at the Republican Women’s booth said that the Health Department was shutting down food vendors.
She pointed at a man walking swiftly along the cement walkway toward Chianti Dr.
So I trotted after him, identified myself as a representative of the press, and asked for an explanation.
His only response, repeated, was “I cannot talk to you.”
So I raised my voice and said loudly, “Then I’ll write an article that says that the Health Department shut down food vendors at the Rossmoor Community Festival and refused to speak with a representative of the press, to even identify himself.”
The man abruptly changed direction, doubling back toward the car show.
“What is your name?” I asked repeatedly. I tried to give him a business card to show that I work for Orange County Breeze.
He acted as though it burned his hand.
Eventually he admitted that his name was “Saba.” First name? Last name? “I cannot talk with you.”
After a minute or so of me yelling at him and him refusing to offer further information, he took out a business card, shoved it at me along with my own, and lit out towards Chianti Dr.
His business card says:
Saba Fattaleh, REHS
Environmental Health Specialist
Food Protection Program
County of Orange
Health Care Agency
1241 East Dyer Road, Suite 120
Santa Ana, CA 92705-5611
FAX: (714) 433-6423
In talking with several of the vendors that Mr. Fattaleh shut down, I learned that he had demanded that they purchase, on the spot, a $56 permit to allow them to continue selling their wares.
But under no circumstances could they hand out samples.
Or even give away wrapped candy or sealed bottles of water. (Mr. Fattaleh told the American Legion to get rid of their candy bowl. He said the same to the Primerica folks.)
When I tracked down Bev Houghton of the Rossmoor Homeowners Association (RHA), she explained that the RHA had been trying for weeks to get the Orange County Health Department to clearly explain what was needed for commercial food vendors.
RHA was handed off from one Health Department person to another without every receiving a clear answer.
Mrs. Houghton admitted that RHA didn’t think much of it, because the Health Department had never sent anyone to the Rossmoor Community Festival, ever.
Today, by the testimony of multiple witnesses, Mr. Fattaleh treated the commercial vendors in a high-handed and rude manner while preventing them from plying their trade.
On hand for today’s community fun was Assemblyman Jim Silva. When asked for his response to the situation, he stated, “When I was a County supervisor, this sort of thing didn’t happen.“
Assemblyman Silva went on to characterize the Health Department’s actions: “Going into a community like Rossmoor and demanding $56 for a permit is nothing but a money grab.”
He ended by saying, “The Rossmoor Community Festival is people coming out just to have fun. This sort of thing shouldn’t happen.”
If you would like to express your opinion regarding the Health Department’s raid on the Rossmoor Community Festival, here are some email addresses:
- email@example.com – Orange County Health Care Agency
- firstname.lastname@example.org – office of John Moorlach, Supervisor for District 2 of Orange County
- email@example.com – Rossmoor Homeowners Association
For the record, the Rockne was sweet — and so was the Model A.
The contraband cupcake lady in the booth next door to Orange County Breeze.
All photos except that of the Quaker Gardens Senior Living representatives are by C.E.H. Wiedel.
Photo of the Quaker Gardens Senior Living representatives by Guy Cariglio.
- Rossmoor revving up for community festival (oc-breeze.com)
- Look for Orange County Breeze at the Rossmoor Community Festival (oc-breeze.com)
- Local dogs invited to join Ninth Annual Rossmoor Dog Parade (oc-breeze.com)
- RHA seeking sponsors for this year’s festival (oc-breeze.com)
- May means Rossmoor Woman’s Club Garden Tour (oc-breeze.com)