Pasadena Beautiful, After Pandemic Pause, Once Again Meets to Recognize Pasadena’s Loveliest Homes and Gardens

By CYNTHIA YANG, Weekendr Staff Writer
Published on May 24, 2022

The Oscars have glitz and prestige, as do TV’s Emmy Awards and a handful of others. But  for a loyal and dedicated group of Pasadenans, all of the awards presented in the world—from the Espy to the Clio—pale next to the Golden Arrow Awards, presented by the Pasadena Beautiful Foundation. 

This year’s awards will be presented, after a two-year pandemic pause, on Wednesday at the Western Justice Center, 55 South Grand Avenue, in Pasadena, at 4:30 p.m.

It is traditionally the Foundation’s signature annual event. Twenty-seven awards are given to single-family homeowners to celebrate their efforts in creating front yard gardens that help beautify their streets and neighborhood.  

As Pasadena Beautiful Foundation President Brad Hanson told Pasadena Now recently, the foundation itself was founded in 1960. 

“The organization was started as a way to improve the city and to try to beautify the city,” he said.

“In the early days, they were trying to think of different ways that they could go about doing it,” Hanson continued. “And in the 1960s, the city of Pasadena had neighborhoods that were in decline, and Old Pasadena was not in great shape. And so it was around the idea of really trying to improve the city that the organization was started.” 

Having done a lot of sifting through archives recently, Hanson is still not exactly sure when the Golden Arrow awards were started.

It just kind of happened,” he laughed, “sometime after 1960.”

But the reasons for such an award remain just as viable, said Hanson. 

“The founders had this idea that if we awarded houses and gardens that stood out in the neighborhood, it would be a way to encourage other neighbors to  try to do the same thing. And it becomes kind of contagious.” 

“Now you see Golden Arrows all around the city,” said Hanson, “and we’re constantly being asked, ‘What do you have to do to win a golden arrow?’  And ‘How come that guy got it and I didn’t?’ Those kinds of things. 

“It was just a way to encourage people to continue improving their gardens and making sure that the house and garden go well together,” added Hanson.

The selection process begins in March of each year.

The city map is divided into nine areas.  In March, the first round, PBF volunteers drive down each street to view and select six outstanding gardens from each of the nine areas.  A second team then reviews these eight semi-finalists to choose the final three.  The winners are then invited to attend a reception and an award ceremony held in May. 

Yes, you can nominate your own home for a Golden Arrow award, he said. 

As Hanson explained, “Absolutely. We get both people who think highly of their own yard and so they nominate themselves, which is fine.” But,  lest one think that being nominated by a neighbor might help things along, that is not the case,

“Nominating by itself doesn’t necessarily give you a leg up,” said Hanson. “Just because you’re nominated by a homeowner or a neighbor, you’re still subject to the critical eye of the team that’s making the decision.” 

The Pasadena Beautiful Foundation Golden Arrow Awards, Wednesday,  May 25, at the Western Justice Center, 55 South Grand Avenue, in Pasadena, at 4:30 p.m. For more, click here.

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