Visiting Scorched Griffith Park, an L.A. Favorite

L.A.Councilman Tom LaBonge in the Griffith Park neighborhood. i i

L.A.Councilman Tom LaBonge in the Griffith Park neighborhood. hide caption

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L.A.Councilman Tom LaBonge in the Griffith Park neighborhood.

L.A.Councilman Tom LaBonge in the Griffith Park neighborhood.

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge about his beloved Griffith Park, which had a devastating fire back in May. The two spoke during a tree planting ceremony.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. For personal, noncommercial use only. See Terms of Use. For other uses, prior permission required.

SCOTT SIMON, Host:

Last May 8th, before the devastating Southern California fires this fall, there was a fire in Los Angeles' celebrated Griffith Park that destroyed about a fifth of the trees here. Now, you know Griffith Park: the observatory, the zoo, and scenes from so many movies including "Rebel Without a Cause," and "Back to the Future."

We're here in Griffith Park on a beautifully crisp Saturday morning with Los Angeles City council member Tom LaBonge who's sometimes called the unofficial mayor of Griffith Park. There's going to be a tree-planting ceremony here - the first tree to be returned to the soil since the fire.

Councilman, thanks very much for being with us.

TOM L: Well, thank you. The first tree truly was done two days ago on a grant we got from Victoria Principal; that fine actress that's, you know, from "Dallas." But today, we're gathered with many more people here to begin the large, massive effort to reforest this beautiful park.

But it is a beautiful spot; you get up on the other side of the park above the observatory - you're 1,600 and 25 feet above sea level - you could see the Angeles National Forest, the San Bernardino National Forest, the Cleveland National Forest.

SIMON: annyunghaseyo, which is good morning in Korean or magandang umaga which is Tagalog or buenas dias and et cetera, and it's fun.

SIMON: That is Spanish, right?

BONGE: That's Spanish. Yeah, you got that right.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: I could follow that one.

BONGE: Right. I know. And it just - it's just is good to see the people...

SIMON: Yeah.

BONGE: ...in a public park. And in a space like this, you're not separated. You see people, you know, they may not know your name but they know the name of your dog, but you only see them here. I've heard people tell me I saw so and so the other day. I couldn't believe how good he looked in a suit because we're all in shorts or jogging suits. It's a very much a blending spot is this trail in this park.

SIMON: Yeah.

BONGE: Now, the damage from that fire and the effort we're having to recover will be a good lesson and a good exercise for Angelinos to get together.

SIMON: How do you say thank you, councilman, in Tagalog?

BONGE: Salamat.

(SOUNDBITE OF LAUGHTER)

SIMON: All right. Tagalog - salamat.

BONGE: I knew you knew.

SIMON: Okay.

BONGE: Know.

BONGE: I got it. Okay, adios.

Los Angeles City councilman Tom LaBonge. Councilman LaBonge, thanks very much.

BONGE: Thank you very much.

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