Chickens, temblors and runaways in Orange County
Ask anyone who knows me and they will tell you my end-of-the-day expression is: "Oh, what a day!"
For me, it's an exclamation of how productive, dynamic, challenging or interesting the day was.
Today was more than that. It was just plain bizarre. First, I woke up at 2 a.m. and couldn't get back to sleep -- partly because I'm always afraid I'll sleep through my alarm clock before important events.
We had a "Dump the Pump" kickoff event in Fullerton targeting both morning commuters and the morning news show.
KTLA's Eric Spillman interviewed me. Ever the plucky spokesman for the Orange County Transportation Authority, I espoused the benefits of trying transit: let someone else do the driving, enjoy a stress-free commute and get free flame-grilled chicken.
Yes, Simon Oh, our new intern from Cal State Fullerton, donned a six-piece chicken outfit as the camera zoomed in as he passed out El Pollo Loco gift certificates to happy commuters.
(This is when I fall asleep.)
He got a bit claustrophobic (code for embarrassed). So as his mentor -- of course -- I took over as the chicken mascot. By the way, the chicken has no name. What mascot is nameless? And after putting on the furry beast for a mere O.C. minute, I now know why no El Pollo Loco employee volunteered for the early-morning gig.
Of course, I'd do close to anything for a good visual -- including the chicken dance complete with props.
It was only 8:30 a.m. and I was already running late for the next assignment. I came back just in time for the OCTA board of directors meeting where the capacity-only audience applauded because our CEO won the honor as one of the top 10 public works officials in the nation, and the board approved a $1.2- billion budget.
Our next big event of the day was adjacent to a freeway ramp for the much-anticipated groundbreaking of a $328-million West County Connectors that will build carpool connectors and construct other improvements to the I-405, I-605 and SR-22. It's one of Southern California's most-travelled areas with approximately 300,000 vehicles each day.
After an interview with KCAL news, I was ready to make last-minute adjustments for what had been a well-executed event thanks to the superbly organized Christina Byrne, OCTA's community relations officer, and our team of PR superstars.
Nearly everything about the program was flawless. And instead of a cliche "shovel-in-the-dirt" photo-op, we planned for officials hold up oversized puzzle pieces and put them together. Get it? Get connected!
See below for a music slideshow of the event with photos courtesy of Megan Enloe, an extraordinary photographer and engaged citizen.
Then as we were taking our last photos, we heard a loud bang. "Oh, no! Did rubbernecker get distracted and slammed into three vehicles in front of it?" I asked myself.
The crash crunched cars like soda cans with smashed windshields. We were all frozen. Was anyone seriously hurt or killed?
Then suddenly two women from the car that rammed into the other vehicles leaped out and ran toward our event site. A half-dozen police officers chased them on foot. Then, I saw police vehicles and helicopters. Just great -- another SoCal high-speed chase but on our freeway connector event.
Without skipping a beat, Art Brown, our board director and mayor of Buena Park, ran after the suspects. Thanks to the retired law enforcement officer's fast feet, Brown helped nab one of the runaways. Police apprehended the other minutes later. It turned out to be a mother-daughter team evading the police.
Enloe, a Tustin resident and social media practitioner, ran with Brown and captured some incredible photos of the incident. Hear my audioBoo interview with Enloe and find out who she called a hero.
She is my hero for her care and concern to enhance the community. She's been there countless times volunteering her time to capture photo memories at many community events.
After being up for more than 19 hours, I was ready to finally hit the sack and just sleep my crazy day away.
Just as I was preparing to sleep, a magnitude 5.7 earthquake rattled Southern California at 9:26 p.m. -- of course.
The temblor was the largest aftershock in a series that have hit the California-Mexican border area since a magnitude 7.2 shook Easter Sunday.
I wanted to blog about my interesting day, but was so exhausted that I finally fell into a deep sleep -- only to be awaken by my alarm clock and the dawn of another day full of possibilities.
What was your most interesting day? And what would you name the El Pollo Loco chicken mascot? I would love to hear about them.