Smith: Goof with paint at Rose Parade mars Santa Rosa’s Old Courthouse Square

The painted brackets and numbers that directed Rose Parade festival vendors and information booths where to set up remain scrawled on the Old Courthouse Square pavers on May 26, 2017, a week after the parade. (CHRIS SMITH/ PD)


It will come right off, only it didn’t.

Santa Rosa municipal workers and visitors to the new Old Courthouse Square cringe at the sight of spray-painted lines and numerals on the paving stones and concrete.

It’s not graffiti. The painting was done by organizers of the festival on the plaza that accompanied the Rose Parade.

The brackets and numbers indicated where each of the festival’s vendors and information booths was to go. The people who did the spraying swear they were assured when they bought the aerosol cans that they contained a chalk that would wear off or be easily washed away.

But it was regular ol’ paint.

Research delves now into the safest, friendliest way to remove it from the $10.5 million square that’s just now turning one month old.

LOOKING FOR A GOOD TIME, retired folks flock to the sweet, new activities center that the Salvation Army created beneath Santa Rosa’s 10-story Silvercrest apartment towers.

The most senior of the seniors who came to the social center’s dedication was Naomi Felton, who’s 99 and was Miss Sonoma County before there was a Miss Sonoma County.

Naomi is especially drawn to the new Senior Activities Center because its director and designer, Carol Orr, is a granddaughter-by-marriage, the wife of her grandson, Derek Orr.

Naomi was born in San Francisco in 1917 and came to Santa Rosa the following year. She lived at La Rose Hotel through the stint that her father, John Ghiorso, worked there as chef.

Naomi recalls parts of old Santa Rosa that most of us have forgotten or never knew about.

“Nobody seems to remember Bouk’s ice cream parlor,” she said. “They had the Milkshake of the Week. It was a big thing.”

Naomi was 15 when she entered a teen beauty pageant at the former Roxy Theater. The year was 1933, 84 years ago.

“I wore a one-piece bathing suit and flat shoes,” she said. “There was no talent contest.”

The audience voted by clapping as a fellow stepped from girl to girl, holding a hand over her head. Naomi won.

“I got a loving cup and a ribbon,” she said. She wishes she hadn’t tossed them out long ago.

She’s aware that the current Miss Sonoma County scholarship competition, part of the Miss America system, dates only to 1946. But she’s certain “Miss Sonoma County” was the title printed on her sash in ’33.

Today she anticipates her 100th birthday in November and what she might do at the new activities center.

Naomi said, “I hope to go there and start taking tai chi.”

A SURPRISE CAME at the senior center’s dedication when Salvation Army brass revealed a handsome plaque designating the main activities room as Wendell Nordby Hall.

Wendell Nordby was grateful but a bit embarrassed by the attention. The building contractor prefers that the focus be on the work of the Salvation Army, or perhaps on the golf tournament he’ll put on for it on June 12.

It will be the 28th hosted by Nordby, a key member of the local Salvation Army advisory board. Over time his Nordby Invitational has brought to the agency more than $1.2 million.

Nordby said he bolsters the Salvation Army because he thinks it’s “the cleanest and the most effective ministry out there” and he appreciates that it’s “focused on people.”

Chris Smith is at 707-521-5211 and