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Give Thanks for Pilgrim's Center

November 05, 1989|MICHELE GRIMM and TOM GRIMM | The Grimms are Laguna Beach free-lance writers/photographers and authors of the updated "Away for a Weekend."

CLAREMONT — The residents of Pilgrim Place will host their 41st annual festival on Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

The several hundred retirees who live in the 32-acre enclave here dress as the English Puritans did in 1620.

Their costumes are part of Claremont's traditional pre-Thanksgiving celebration that features an arts and crafts fair and a 30-booth bazaar with thousands of handmade items. The outdoor pageant, "The Pilgrim Story" is presented at 1:45 p.m. on both days.

You can get a buffet luncheon with turkey casserole and all the trimmings from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Adults $5, children to 12 years $3.

For children there are puppet shows, free balloons and the Glue-In, where they can create their own art.

Founded in 1915, Pilgrim Place is a retirement center for missionaries and other religious workers. Residents and community volunteers host the festivities between Harrison Avenue and 8th Street, just west of Indian Hill Boulevard.

Even if you can't attend, Claremont's village center and tree-shaded college campuses offer a quiet and convenient respite from the city.

Drive east from Los Angeles on Interstate 10 and exit north on Indian Hill Boulevard. Just beyond the railroad tracks is The Village, six blocks of the historic downtown, with shops and restaurants that are adjacent to Pomona College, founded in 1887.

Claremont became a townsite that same year, one of 30 future communities planned along the Los Angeles/San Bernardino sector of the just-completed Santa Fe Railroad route to Chicago.

When the Southland's 1880s real estate boom ended, Claremont's big hotel was offered to Pomona College, which had temporary quarters in its namesake city to the south.

Since then the town has become home to six respected schools known as the Claremont Colleges, which are clustered on adjoining campuses.

More than 5,500 students are enrolled at Claremont Graduate School and the Pomona, Scripps, Claremont McKenna, Harvey Mudd and Pitzer colleges.

Visitors like the New England atmosphere of the lush campuses, which you can experience by driving or strolling along streets with names such as Dartmouth, Columbia and Amherst. Main streets of The Village are Yale and Harvard avenues, between 1st and 4th streets.

Park free at the curb or in city lots to explore this town, which stretches north to the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains.

Drop by the Folk Music Center at 220 Yale Ave., where Dorothy and Charles Chase have spent 31 years collecting exotic instruments.

A pre-Columbian flute in the shape of a turtle, and a marimba that can be played with a bow are among 2,000 musical items in the museum/shop. Dolls, beads and woodcuts also are on display. Closed Sunday and Monday.

Claremont also is home to half a dozen bookstores, including the Huntley Bookstore at 175 East 8th St. In The Village, go upstairs at 126 Yale Ave. to Claremont Books & Prints, where Charles Goldsmid has filled nine rooms with rare and secondhand volumes. Open Tuesday through Saturday.

Around the corner on 1st Street, two coiled hoses by the sidewalk mark a well-known rendezvous for cyclists: Bud's Bike Shop. Also on 1st Street, in a converted auto garage, are artistic creations at the International Glass & Bead Co.

Take a walking tour of Claremont the first Saturday of every month beginning at 10 a.m. Docents of Claremont Heritage guide the 75-minute tours that start from Sumitomo Bank at 1st Street and Yale Avenue; $2 donation requested. For a reservation, call (714) 621-0848.

There are a dozen restaurants in The Village. Local folks start their day with fresh pastries and coffee at Some Crust Bakery, 119 Yale Ave.

There's lunch outdoors at patio and sidewalk tables at Square One (try the French onion soup) in the Harvard Square complex, and The Danson at Yale Avenue and 1st Street, where children 6 years and younger are offered a free peanut butter and jelly sandwich.

For food with a foreign flavor, try Yianni's Greek restaurant and the special menu of Afghan dishes at Walter's, both on Yale Avenue. The Blue Moon Cafe on Harvard Avenue has pasta, exotic pizzas and continental dishes.

Other choices are Aruffo's Italian cuisine, as well as La Piccoletta's preset Italian dinner served Friday and Saturday at two seatings; call (714) 624-1373. An $8 pasta meal is offered Tuesday through Thursday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

You also can dine north of The Village at Griswold's Claremont Center, a restaurant/lodging/shopping complex at North Indian and West Foothill boulevards.

A big draw is the Candlelight Pavilion Dinner Theater, where "West Side Story" is being presented through Nov. 19. "Home for the Holidays" will be on stage Nov. 24 through Dec. 30. Nightly shows run Wednesday through Sunday, plus matinees on weekends. Call (714) 626-1254 for prices and reservations.

Also popular is bargain-priced Griswold's Smorgasbord and Bakery. Other meals are served in Griswold's Indian Hill Dining Room and at Don Salsa, a Mexican restaurant in Claremont's former high school that's now known as Griswold's Old School House, which also features several shops.

At the 280-room Griswold's Inn a double room is $85. Call (714) 626-2411 for reservations. Other lodgings are south of town off Interstate 10.

For more information, visit the Claremont Chamber of Commerce and Visitors Center, 205 Yale Ave. on weekdays, or call (714) 624-1681.

Round trip from Los Angeles to Claremont is 72 miles.

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