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Volume 15, Issue 22  | March 17, 2023Subscribe

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Ladies of Laguna show off hats to support the Laguna Beach Garden Club Annual Gate & Garden Tour

Photos by Mary Hurlbut

What if you went to a garden party and a tour broke out? That is the theme for this year’s much anticipated 19th Annual Gate & Garden Tour, a major fundraiser for educational school gardens & programs, local scholarships and community projects.

Some of the community’s most treasured “Ladies of Laguna” stepped up to help the town become excited for the newest twist at the 2023 Gate & Garden Tour. The club asked Sue Kempf (mayor pro tem), Debbie Neev (commissioner for the Laguna Beach County Water District), Dee Perry (Woman’s Club 2022 Woman of the Year), Anne Belyea (executive director of the Laguna Food Pantry) and Julia Abel Schwier (sales agent at Smith Group-Coldwell Banker Realty – event sponsor of the tour) to don their fancy hats and pose for some inspirational photos to heighten community excitement about entering the Garden Party Hat Contest on Saturday, May 6 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. at the tour’s host venue, the historic Laguna Beach County Water District building.

Ladies of Laguna Sue Kempf Ladies of Laguna Debbie Neev

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(L-R) Mayor Pro Tem Sue Kempf and Commissioner for the Laguna Beach County Water District Debbie Neev

Ladies of Laguna Dee Perry Ladies of Laguna Anne Belyea Ladies of Laguna Julia Abel Schwier

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(L-R) Woman’s Club 2022 Woman of the Year Dee Perry, Executive Director of the Laguna Food Pantry Anne Belyea and sales agent at Smith Group-Coldwell Banker Realty Julia Abel Schwier

Not only are these ladies all very accomplished in their own right, all have a common interest in their incredible love for Laguna Beach and a history of supporting the Laguna Beach Garden Club.

To enter the contest, check in at the registration table at the Gate & Garden Tour wearing your hat and have your picture taken before boarding the air-conditioned bus to whisk you off to view the gardens in this year’s selected neighborhood. All are welcome to enter – both males and females are encouraged to participate.

At 3 p.m., the judges will convene and choose from the photos in each of the following categories:

–Most Chic

–For the Birds

–Best Handmade Upcycled

In the first half of the 20th century, hats were a way to claim social status, but not anymore. In addition to providing excellent sun protection, hats show off the owner’s personality and entertain all who get to see them. Plus, nothing gets one in the mood for a garden party like a beautiful or creative hat.

The festive event will offer artisanal margaritas and Mexican fare for sale, as well as free delicious homemade baked goods and refreshments. Luxury VIP buses will transport you to the start of the tour where you will stroll through a masterfully curated set of gardens in a local neighborhood. In addition, you can enjoy plein air painters in several gardens.

A regular-timed entry ticket is available for $60 until April 29 and a VIP ticket is now available and includes flex-time entry plus one food ticket and one drink ticket for $80.

Gate & Garden Tour tickets are on sale now at

Just a reminder that they have sold out fours years consecutively, so don’t miss out on enjoying this memorable day.


Shaena Stabler, President & CEO -

Lana Johnson, Editor -

Tom Johnson, Publisher -

Dianne Russell is our Associate Editor.

Michael Sterling is our Webmaster & Designer.

Mary Hurlbut and Scott Brashier are our photographers.

Alexis Amaradio, Dennis McTighe, Marrie Stone, Sara Hall, Suzie Harrison and Theresa Keegan are our writers and/or columnists.

In Memoriam - Stu Saffer and Barbara Diamond.

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