Part 1 in a series. For Part 2, click here.
Friends of La Laguna announced in a press release on Sunday that the organization was awarded $250,000 by the California Cultural and Historical Endowment for preservation of La Laguna de San Gabriel, a children’s sculpture garden and playground in Vincent Lugo Park, San Gabriel. This was the only Los Angeles County project to be selected in the highly-competitive statewide competition.
Generations of children from surrounding communities, including Altadena, have visited the unusual playground. Often known as “Monster Park” or even “Dinosaur Park”, La Laguna was built by Benjamin Dominguez in the mid-sixties. Dominguez built several fanciful playgrounds across the southwest, but only three are still in existence: La Laguna, Legg Lake in the Whittier Narrows, and Atlantis Park in Garden Grove. The artist’s unique style is evident in the slideshow below, with photos by Eloy Zarate.
Slated for demolition to accommodate park expansion in 2006, Friends of La Laguna was formed to save and steward the sandy lagoon filled with fanciful sea creatures. The money represents a significant step towards the goal of $1.2 million and allows FOLL in partnership with the city of San Gabriel to begin work on the $400,000 Phase I project.
Zarate, who with Senya Lubisich started the grassroots movement to save the structures, stated, “This is a huge step not only in funding but recognition for our incredible resources. Also, our proposed law to protect historic parks, made it out of committee. Incredible!!”
To celebrate the grant, FOLL is having—what else?—a picnic in the park on May 1 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in conjunction with the Los Angeles Conservancy. Tickets are required for lunch and ice cream and are on sale on the Conservancy website.
“The City of San Gabriel is delighted at the news of the grant and honored by the distinction that CCHE funding brings to the history of San Gabriel and its preservation efforts,” the press release announced. “The funding helps bring greater attention to the postwar era of San Gabriel’s history and galvanizes efforts to tell the history of San Gabriel as it stretches from the mission to the modern.”
Friends of La Laguna is a volunteer nonprofit dedicated to the preservation and protection of the playgrounds created by Benjamin Dominguez. For more information or to make a donation to the capital campaign, visit www.friendsoflalaguna.org
Picnic to celebrate the CCHE grant
Saturday, May 1, 11 a.m.-2 p.m.
La Laguna de San Gabriel
Vincent Lugo Park on
Wells Street between Ramona and Prospect Avenues
Cost: $15, $10 for Conservancy members, $5 for children 12 and under
For more articles on Foothills area happenings, read the San Gabriel Foothills Examiner