Sacramento eyes its own walk of fame

A handout image from public relations firm Crocker & Crocker shows a potential star for actor Pat Morita.
A handout image from public relations firm Crocker & Crocker shows a potential star for actor Pat Morita. Crocker & Crocker

If city leaders give their thumbs up, the stars won’t just shine in Sacramento’s sky. They’ll shine in its sidewalks as well.

The Sacramento City Council is set to vote Tuesday on Resolution No. 2015, which would green-light the creation of a Sacramento Walk of Stars. The project would be a Sacramento spin on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, with large blue stars adorning stretches of central-city sidewalks to commemorate famous Sacramentans.

A future walk around midtown might include strolling past stars dedicated to actor Pat Morita of “The Karate Kid” fame, Olympic swimmer Mark Spitz and other famous folks with Sacramento connections.

The proposed Sacramento Walk of Stars is the brainchild of Scot and Lucy Crocker, the husband-and-wife team behind the local public relations firm Crocker & Crocker. No city funds would be used to finance the stars – which cost $8,000 each – or manage the program. The Crockers, whose business clients include the Sacramento Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce, would create a non-profit organization and solicit sponsors to help pay for the stars.

“We’ve got an awesome list of 80 to 90 real stars from Sacramento,” said Lucy Crocker. “It’s something to get people excited about in Sacramento and raise the city’s prominence.”

The resolution before the City Council on Tuesdaywould set the criteria for the program. The city manager, for example, would review and approve all proposed honorees. In addition, Walk of Stars would be issued a revocable encroachment permit from the city. This permit would allow the organization to work on certain Sacramento sidewalks. It also places maintenance responsibilities and liability for the star-shaped plaques on the nonprofit group.

The stars would be embedded in various spots between Fifth and 21st streets, on J, K and L streets – an area that includes the new Kings arena and a growing wave of central-city development. The idea isn’t to create a contiguous walk. Instead, the stars would be clustered in different areas because hollow sidewalks in certain places prevent installation.

The Sacramento Walk of Stars already has found support from City Councilman Steve Hansen, whose district encompasses the central-city areas where the stars would be inlaid. The Crockers have communicated with Hansen for more than a year about developing the program.

“It should be a no-brainer,” Hansen said about passing the resolution. “We have a tendency to be very humble as a community and don’t necessarily acknowledge the great people who’ve risen from Sacramento. I think it’s great for civic pride. (Supreme Court Justice) Anthony Kennedy may be the most powerful person from Sacramento ever, and we haven’t acknowledged him in a civic way. Being proud of Sacramento is something we should make a habit of.”

Under the current plan, the Sacramento Walk of Stars would induct three to five honorees each year from entertainment, arts, sports, business and other fields. The terrazzo-tile stars would be manufactured by the same company that works with the Hollywood Walk of Fame; they would include insignias, such as a movie camera, to reflect the honoree’s field.

“We’re looking at people with national and international significance,” Crocker said. “It’s someone that if you lived in New York, you would know who this star is potentially. If you were into the arts, you would know who Gregory Kondos, Cake and Wayne Thiebaud are.”

The Hollywood Walk of Fame has endured as a Tinsel Town fixture since the idea was formed in the late 1950s. Now, the tourist attraction includes more than 2,500 stars, with the bulk of them found on Hollywood Boulevard. A few former Sacramentans can claim a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, including Morita, whose family operated the former Ariake Chop Suey on Fourth Street in Sacramento. Levar Burton, who was inducted in 1990, graduated from Christian Brothers High School in 1974. Tom Hanks received a star in 1992, though his connection to Sacramento was brief. The future Oscar winner was a transfer student at Sacramento State before dropping out of school.

A $30,000 sponsorship fee is required for a star on the Hollywood Walk of fame – more than three times the cost of a proposed star for the Sacramento Walk of Stars. Those fees are collected by the Hollywood Historic Trust, which oversees the Hollywood Walk of Fame with the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce.

Other cities around the country have created their own walks of fame, including Miami and Nashville, but they aren’t usually found in mid-size cities like Sacramento. The St. Louis Walk of Fame, which installed its first stars on city sidewalks in 1989, counts honorees such as Miles Davis, Maya Angelou, T.S. Eliot and Redd Foxx. The Michigan Walk of Fame in Lansing was launched in 2006 with honorees such as Henry Ford and Stevie Wonder, but has not inducted any more Michigan notables since 2007.

In decades past, the potential honorees for a Sacramento Walk of Stars would have been slim pickings. Sacramento’s star power in the 1970s was limited to author Joan Didion, the bassist for The Eagles (Timothy B. Schmit), Morita and a few others.

But as Sacramento has grown, so has its number of breakout stars. On the musical front, that includes such bands as Tesla, Deftones, Cake and Papa Roach. The 916 area code also has been home to “NBC Nightly News” anchor Lester Holt, mixed martial arts favorite Urijah Faber, actresses Greta Gerwig and Jessica Chastain and many other movers and shakers.

So far, the Crockers have raised $17,500 out of $70,000 that’s needed to fund the Sacramento Walk of Stars in its first year, which includes the cost of the stars and other costs. The Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau has signed on as a founding sponsor, and the Crockers are also collaborating with the Midtown Business Association and other entities to move the program forward.

The overall goal is to create a Sacramento-centric tourist attraction and highlight various pockets of the central city, with plans to develop a downloadable app to serve as a guide.

“In terms of tourism, it’s a nice amenity,” said Steve Hammond, president and CEO of the Sacramento Convention and Visitors Bureau. “Visitors typically like to see people who are recognized for their high-celebrity status, and this gives them a little opportunity to do that. As we strategically place these stars around the city, it encourages those who have interest to move around the city and introduce visitors to things they might not ordinarily see.”

If all goes according to plan, Lucy Crocker hopes to see the first stars installed in April. The program would include an induction ceremony followed by a luncheon, and, ideally, plenty of media coverage.

“We’re looking at a full program, not just stars in the sidewalk,” Crocker said. “We think it’s an economic development opportunity.”

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