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November 13, 2012 > Tomato Palooza

Tomato Palooza

Submitted By Eleanor Lanuza

When most of the residents of the Masonic Home of California and Acacia Creek Senior Retirement Community first heard "Let's Call the Whole Thing Off," they were just teenagers. Now, more than 80 years after the song was released, those same teenagers are saying Tomato, Tomato, Tomato...

In celebration of the bountiful harvest, the Masonic Home of California and Acacia Creek Retirement Community held a Tomato Palooza and Parade Thursday, September 27 from 1:30 p.m. to 3 p.m. Kicking off the festive event was the Tomato Parade led by its 90 plus years old group of residents in their tomato costumes and creative floats, and the Tomato King and Queen riding in their "tomato car."

Also, as an added treat to this spectacular occasion was a special belly dancing number by staff and residents, and the MHCUC All Male Choir rendition of "Yes We Have Some Tomatoes." In addition, the event had everything from varieties of tomato displays, live blues and swing music performance by Terry Hank Band, dancing, salsa tasting, a delicious smorgasbord of "all things tomato" foods to Bloody Mary in purple, yellow and red. "This is what the heart of a great community is all about. Taking time to celebrate life together with joy, laughter, music....and tomatoes!" says Nadine Yother, resident of Acacia Creek and leader of the Tomato Sewing Group who made some of the costumes.

The tomatoes are organically grown by residents in a one-acre garden, and significantly remarkable in this backyard farming endeavor is that the residents who tend the garden average 85 years of age and make their own decisions regarding the planting and growing of the variety. John Marshall, Director of Culinary Services who oversees the garden operation from a management perspective at the Masonic Homes, says, "We have 25 varieties of heirloom tomatoes, six varieties of hybrids, over 300 tomatoes planted all grown from seeds germinated in our greenhouse, thousands of pounds grown and eaten."

"It is our hope that next year's festival and parade will be open to the public at large so they can see firsthand the garden and tomato harvest," says festival organizer Penny Victoria.

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