One crazy summer … Running down the big stories of Summer ’06 |

One crazy summer … Running down the big stories of Summer ’06

Provided to the Tribune / A bear driving a car? This curious bear decided to dine and dash after the owner left a pizza and some beers in his unoccupied convertible in July. The story, along with the eye-catching photo, was reported all over the world.

School buses bounce down city streets, picking up waiting kids with oversized backpacks; warm summer nights make way to a crisp fall; the leaves turn green to brown, and finally fall to the ground, and the tourists retreat from Lake Tahoe’s shoreline, pack up and drive home. The signs of fall at South Lake Tahoe are here – and it’s time to look back at a memorable summer.

South Shore made national and international news in July when a curious bear decided to take (temporary) residence in a parked convertible near the top of Kingsbury Grade. It was apparently enticed by the smell of a jalapeno pizza, and even had the gumption to open up a beer while enjoying its snack. The story was featured on CNN, Fox, and in international magazines and newspapers. It even got mention on Australian BBC. A local resident caught the image before the bear, apparently full from his pie, meandered away.

As always “America’s Most Beautiful Bike Ride” in June was a big success, enticing 3,500 cyclists from all over the country for an opportunity to circumnavigate the lake. With events like AMBBR and the Tour de Tahoe, road cycling has become one of the lake’s biggest tourist draws.

The American Century Classic is arguably Lake Tahoe’s premier July event, and undoubtedly its most visible all year long. Fans who have followed the athletes over the years were happy to see ACC veteran, and soap opera actor Jack Wagner, take home the trophy in the tournament’s 17th year. Wagner has always played strong, but this year he came out on top, the first actor to defeat a field of professional athletes for the win.

The Lake Tahoe Visitor Authority stepped up its promotional presence this summer with the CeleBEARtion project. Businesses partnered with local and regional artists to paint sculpted bears. The bears were placed around town, in front of businesses and in public places, for locals and visitors to enjoy. The bears will be sold at auction to further fund tourism promotion.

The Summer Outdoor Concert Series featured big names this summer, but none was bigger than Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. The throwback to the 1960s played the weekend of July 22, and elicited some controversy when images of soldiers were displayed while anti-war songs were played.

What would summer be without a little controversy? Many residents, and environmental groups, were dismayed to see the removal of 387 trees at the Lake Tahoe Airport around Memorial Day. The city removed the trees to comply with Federal Aviation Administration safety mandates, but in doing so it allegedly violated a permit that limited the tree cut to 100. The snafu has landed the city in hot water, and litigation may follow. In Lake Tahoe, strict environmental regulations, especially those governing trees, mean the city may be fined hundreds of thousands of dollars. The case still awaits resolution as parties, including the Tahoe Regional Planning Agency, negotiate a settlement (or take the case to court).

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