May 1, 2024 - KATHY PEREZ
Thank you, Downey
The Downey Patriot headline on April 26th stated: “Welcome to Downey” and featured photos of Carpenters fans who had gathered in our city for the celebration of the Carpenters’ 55th Anniversary. Most of them have now traveled back to their homes in all parts of our country and the world, and I want to let Downey know that they all indeed felt very “welcomed”.

I had the great honor of working with both the organizers of the four-day event and the city to coordinate all of the events that took place here. There are members of our community who deserve to be publicly acknowledged for their involvement. All of them contributed to the success of not only the event, but to projects that will remain for years to come.

Thank you to Mayor Trujillo for all of his help and attendance at the Downey events. As a fellow Carpenters fan, he understands how important it is for our city to honor our hometown heroes and their musical legacy. I appreciate his support and guidance and especially his help in organizing our own Carpenters Downey Committee. Special thanks to our committee co-chair, Rick Rodriguez, and our committee members Jason Chacon and Monica Ortiz from Parks and Recreation, Michael Calvert the executive director of the Chamber of Commerce, Eric Pierce from the Patriot and the Downtown Downey Improvement Association and key community members Patty Russell-Rohrer, Joseph Luisi, and Jeannie Wood.
Carpenters fans from Japan pose in front of the duos former house on Newville Avenue during the 50th Anniversary Celebration in 2019.
In addition, thank you to our council members and city staff who listened, responded, and helped move all Carpenters requests forward. Thank you especially to Ben Dickow and Dan Martin at the library and Council Member Dorothy Pemberton for your extra help and support. Thank you to Pastor Brad Biggerstaff and the congregation of the Downey United Methodist Church for allowing us to use your beautiful and significant church for the acoustic concert. I’d also like to thank our school district, particularly Dr. Zegarra for welcoming the fans to Downey High School and Mrs. Andrea Pyle, director of the district’s Musical Theatre Conservatory. for involving our youth and passing on the Carpenters Downey story and their music to the next generation. Thank you, also, to our local businesses, especially the Embassy Suites, Look Dine-In Cinemas, and our historic McDonald’s for hosting and accommodating our fans, as well as the downtown stores and restaurants.  A special thank you to the owners of the iconic Newville House for welcoming the fans and the neighboring residents for allowing everyone to descend onto your street. Lastly, thank you to The Downey Patriot staff for covering the celebration, placing it on the front page last week, and supplying the fans with copies to take home!

I heard nothing but positive comments from the fans about their time in Downey. Here are just a few:

“I’m so impressed that the city of Downey not only allowed us to flood their city, but also strive to keep the Carpenters legacy in the forefront of their lovely city.” Doug McComas, Georgia

“Thank you to the City of Downey for ALL they did to make our event happen! It’s nothing short of extraordinary! The city was in tip top shape and I noticed how clean it was and how all the landscaping was well cared for. To see so many representatives from the city at our events showed their interest and commitment to our event and the Carpenters.” Shari Christenson, Minnesota

“To the City of Downey: I have been making “pilgrimages” to Downey since 1996, but this time was different. The city has finally embraced our dynamic duo and it was a welcome sight. It’s wonderful to see them acknowledged for what we have known for decades.” Laura Adam, Texas
My profound thanks and deepest gratitude to Richard Carpenter who, although no longer a Downey resident, lived here for over 30 years. Richard, accompanied by his wife, Mary, returned to his hometown on Saturday night for the final event of the celebration. He visited the library to see the city’s Carpenters Collection and was quite impressed with the beautiful display. He then made his way over to the Embassy Suites and spent over an hour sharing memories of his illustrious and legendary career. Mayor Trujillo presented him with a city proclamation. The plaque which will be installed at Furman Park commemorating Richard and Karen’s first public performance together there in 1963 was unveiled. The plaque project is a joint effort initiated by fans and supported by the city.  Richard was also given a replica of the plaque and Downey “Future Unlimited” t-shirts. Our city motto has played a very special role in his life since he first saw it on a sign when his family arrived here almost 61 years ago. After posing for a group photo, he stayed to shake hands, sign autographs, and take photos with his devoted fans.

Needless to say, the entire 55th Anniversary Celebration left everyone feeling “on top of the world” here in the “Home of the Carpenters”.
Kathy Crowe Perez is a Downey resident, retired educator and advocate for the preservation of Downey's historic and cultural resources.
Carpenters Anniversary event set to draw worldwide fans
DOWNEY - A multi-day celebration of The Carpenters is anticipated to draw fans of the musical duo to Downey from around the world.

Commemorating the 55th anniversary of when Richard and Karen Carpenter signed with A&M Records, the four-day event, taking place April 24-27, will immerse visitors into the life, music, and history of the Grammy Award-winning sibling duo. Headquartered from the Embassy Suites, the event will include several presentations, musical performances, and walking tours and field trips to locations of Historical significance to the Carpenters, including the former home on Newville Ave. The Carpenters Performing Arts Center in Long Beach, their star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, and to Karen’s mausoleum at Pierce Valley Thousand Oaks Memorial Park. 

The event was organized by Greg Kuritz, a self-described “big fan of the Carpenters to the point of almost being an obsession.” Kuritz attended the 25th anniversary in 1994, which was also held in Downey.

“It was there that I met Randy Schmidt who was the organizer of the event. I had such a fantastic time, that I thought if there was going to be another similar event, I would like to help organize it,” said Kuritz. “So in 2017, I contacted Randy, who by that time had become a friend, and asked him if he was planning to do something to celebrate the 50th.  He informed me that he had so much on his plate that he would not be able to be one of the organizers, but if I was still interested in doing it, he knew two people who might want to get involved.  Those two people were Robert Ingves and Peter Dawe, both of whom happened to live in Canada.

“So after thousands of emails and phone calls, our event was launched in April of 2019 in Thousand Oaks, California.”

Dawe, an event planner, says he was brought on board for his “Carpenter’s knowledge.”

“We are having a celebration of about 100 fans from all over the world, coming to celebrate the music of Karen and Richard, and the legacy that they have left us that so many fans are still joining on after all these years,” said Dawe.

According to Dawe, the success and legacy of the Carpenters draws from their “earthiness,” adding that their talent “took them to another level.”

“I find that the two of them were always very relatable,” said Dawe. “They weren’t to me like celebrities; they were always people who had talent to me, and I could relate to.

“On top of that, Karen’s voice, you hear the first notes of her on the radio, and it’s just this velvety beautiful tone, and of course Karen’s voice was projected with Richard’s productions.”

He added that there was “a fascination with fans of wanting to know who Karen was” due to her untimely passing.

Greg Kuritz, another organizer of the event, agreed with Dawe on the strength of Karen’s voice.

“For me, it was the music and Karen’s voice; that’s the first thing you hear, and that’s what you get attached to,” said Kuritz. “It was just my kind of music, and her voice was just soothing. It was like butter, as they would say.”

Both Dawe and Kuritz, along with Kathy Perez, President of the Downey Conservancy, agreed that Downey is, in many ways, the equivalent to Carpenter fans as Graceland, Neverland, or Dollywood would be to fans of Elvis, Michael Jackson, and Dolly Parton.

Perez said that “It always amazed me that they remained in Downey.”

“When they hit it big, they could’ve gone,” said Perez. “They could’ve left their smaller home here in South Downey…but they purchased a home on Newville in 1969.

“They could have gone anywhere else; they stayed in Downey, they remained in Downey.”

She says that Richard and Karen “truly loved Downey,” and added that “the fanbase knows.”

“The people that interacted and grew up with them that are still with us, they have such wonderful memories of them,” said Perez. “It’s that warm, down-home community feeling.”

“Isn’t it the quote that Karen, one of them said, ‘We’re just two kids from Downey.’ That’s how they referred to themselves: just two kids from Downey.”

Mayor Mario Trujillo, a Carpenters fan himself, expressed enthusiasm and excitement for the event.

“Downey has immense pride in the Carpenters and the legacy they have created as musicians and as proud residents and products of Downey,” said Trujillo.”As a personal fan and Mayor of the City of Downey, we are excited to celebrate their 55th anniversary and invite everyone to join us in April to honor the Carpenter’s musical legacy.”
Carpenters 55th Anniversary Celebration is a fan-created website and is not official. It is not officiated by Richard Carpenter, his management, Universal Music Group or other official parties. Carpenters 55th Anniversary Celebration cannot contact Mr. Carpenter or his management on your behalf.

Carpenters logo created by Craig Braun and team. was launched on June 2, 2023. This website is written, designed, created, and maintained by Greg Kuritz, Albany, NY.
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