Thumbs up to PlayZeum, a Fresno nonprofit children’s museum without walls, for providing free activities for children 2-8 years old at Storyland in Fresno’s Roeding Park. Activities include Innovation Playground’s Big Blue Blocks, PVC piping, magnetic tree building, Tessellation Magnets and more. The PlayZeum is free with paid admission to Storyland. Summer dates are June 17 and 24, July 8 and 22 and Aug. 5 and 12. Details: www.facebook.com/Playzeum/ or (559) 222-5068.
Thumbs up to Rei Hotoda for getting the great gig as the first woman to be named Fresno Philharmonic’s music director in its 63-year history. A replacement for Theodore Kuchar, who left after 15 years, she will make her debut Oct. 15. Hotoda hopes to add some fresh approaches to the orchestra’s offerings, including performances outside of Saroyan Theatre.
For example, how about Beethoven and booze, oops, brews, doing piano sonatas in a bar? She hopes that in a more intimate setting, folks will get to know the players better. Sounds great to us. Though she won’t be moving here from Salt Lake City any time soon, we welcome her to the Valley. She just might decide she likes our sunshine.
Thumbs up to Liz Sanchez, president and owner of Casa de Tamales for being named Small Business of the Year by Assemblyman Joaquin Arambula, D-Fresno. And also to Kim and Rod Lichti and family, for their business, Chosen Frozen Yogurt as the 2017 Business of the Year selected by Assemblyman Jim Patterson.
Thumbs up to Constantine Pappas, who was a popular part of the local opera scene for getting a big break, landing a role understudying the character of the hero Raoul in the national tour of “The Phantom of the Opera.” Donald Munro reports in The Munro Review that (the tour is in Las Vegas currently) Pappas is expecting the whole Greek cheering squad from Fresno to drive to see him when he does vacation relief Sunday during the 2 and 8 p.m. performances at the Smith Center.
Thumbs down to Sen. Richard Burr, Republican chairman of the Senate Intelligence committee, for admonishing Sen. Kamala Harris and asking her to be more respectful Wednesday as she pressed top intelligence chiefs testifying before the panel. But she did not back down.
The hashtag #NeverthelessShePersisted rained throughout social media as she was mostly cheered. Sen. Elizabeth Warren tweeted, “Silencing @SenKamalaHarris for not being “courteous” enough is just unbelievable. Keep fighting, Kamala!”
Thumbs up to Sikhs from the central San Joaquin Valley for joining Fresno Mayor Lee Brand on Thursday to announce the “We are Sikhs” awareness campaign. The campaign began airing two television commercials locally on Friday, aiming to show others that “Sikh values are American values,” according to Amritpal Singh, a member of the campaign.
The nonprofit says since 9/11, hate crimes against Sikh Americans have spiked because of the misunderstandings about the faith. Local Sikhs are worried because of the hate crimes they have faced in recent years, including a 68-year-old man who was intentionally run over in December 2015 and the killing of a Sikh store clerk in January 2016.
In addition, 70 percent of Sikh youth in Fresno who wear turbans have experienced bullying and harassment, according to members of the campaign. To learn more, visit www.sikhcampaign.org.