Thursday, December 26, 2013

Boxing day and a trip to the Great Park

Did you know that today is Boxing Day?  What is Boxing Day?

Boxing Day is traditionally the day following Christmas Day, when servants would receive gifts, known as a "Christmas box" from their bosses.  Today, Boxing is the bank holiday that generally takes place on December 26.  It is observed in the United Kingdom, Canada, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, Kenya, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago and other Commonwealth nations.

In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994.  In Ireland and Italy, the day ks known as St. Stephen's Day or the Day of the Wren.  In many European countries, December 26 is celebrated as the Second Day of Christmas.

There are several competing theories as to the origin of Boxing Day, none of which are definitive.  The European tradition, which has long included giving money and other gifts to those who were needy and in service positions, dates back to the Middle Ages, but the exact origin is unknown.  It is believed to be in reference to the Alms Box placed in places of worship to collect donations to the poor.  Also it may come from a custom in the late Roman/early Christian era, where metal blokes placed outside churches were used to collect special offerings tied to the Feast of Saint Stephen, which in the western church, falls on the same day.

In Britain, it was a custom for tradesmen to collect "Christmas boxes" of money or presents on the first weekday after Christmas, as thanks for good service throughout the year.  This custom is linked to an older English tradition, since they would have to wait on their masters on Christmas Day, the servants of the wealthy were allowed the next day off to visit with their families.  The employers would give each servant a box to take home containing gifts and bonuses and maybe sometimes leftover food.


The Great Park  in Irvine, CA, is the official name of a plan for the public, non-aviation reuse of the decommissioned Marine Corps air Station El Toro.  The county park will comprise 1347 acres of the 4682 acres total that made up the old MCAS El Toro.  It is a $1.1 billion project that was approved by the voters of Orange County in 2002. The park opened its first attraction, which was a balloon ride that takes visitors up 500 feet for a panoramic view on July 14, 2007.  A second attraction, the Kids Rock playground, opened on July 10, 2010.

Initial proposals after the retirement of the Marine Corps air Station included an international airport, possible housing and the great park.  In 2001, Orange County voters passed "Measure W" authorizing the former air station's use as a Central Park/Nature Preserve and multi-use development.  The measure was passed, which led to the designation of the land as the OC Great Park.  In 203, the city of Irvine annexed the air station property and was thus able to determine the Great Park's future by zoning.

Following the annexation of the property, the Department of the Navy held an online auction for the El Toro property and Lennar Corporation for $649,500,000 and entered into a development agreement  with the City of Irvine.  Under the terms of the development agreement, Lennar would build the Great Parks Neighborhoods in return for land and capital that will allow the contraction of the Great Park.

The agreement required Lennar to deed 1347 acres to public ownership and contribute $200 million toward the development of the Great Park.  Future owners will con contribute an additional $200 million toward the park's development.

The Great Park Plan focuses on the 1347 acres public of the property and includes a 2.5 mile canyon, a 26-acre lake, botanical gardens, a cultural terrace, lawns, performing arts venues, a sports park, and a wildlife corridor connecting the Cleveland National Forest to the Laguna coast Wilderness.

When completed, the park will be the largest municipal  park in Orange County and will be larger than New York's Central Park, San Francisco's Golden Gate Park and San Diego's Balboa Park.  The design was modified to include a large section of the runway and conform more to the layout of the original base and a reminder of the the history of the base.  There are plans to restore Agua Chinon Creek, which was channeled underground, when the base was built in the 1940's.  Southern California Edison has committed to contributing 50,000 trees to the park.

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