Living Legends in Yakima – John’s Top Six
In Yakima, one has plenty of opportunities to be a big fish in a small pond. You've gotta get out there in the public eye, do things for your community, meet people. I'm not saying you need to shake hands and kiss babies, but we have several people in Yakima that I would consider living legends. The kinds of people who, if they're on Facebook, get non-stop friend requests, and probably already have friends in the thousands. Here's my list of people you probably know or have at least heard of.
Less than 30 years old and Yakima's current mayor. Micah Cawley told me once upon a time that if he shook everyone's hand in America, he would eventually become president. I didn't doubt it then and I don't doubt it now. He loves attending local grand openings, ribbon cutting ceremonies and everything else a mayor does. He'll often provide and opening proclamation for local concerts and events. He's also a DJ on 92.9 The Bull (as Cefus) and is still currently a mobile DJ that can provide music for your wedding and party. That's right, in Yakima you can have the Mayor DJ your wedding - and does a very good job of it, might I say.
Out of everyone I know, I don't think I know anyone that loves the city of Yakima as much as Ryan Messer does. His efforts to help bring quality entertainment and lifestyle to town shows comparing what Yakima was like 10 years ago to where it is now and that is, I believe, in part to his giving 110% of his effort. He's the kind of guy who can brighten a room, lighten the mood - all with his infectious smile. If you haven't met him yet, show up to a public event in the near future. There's a good chance he'll be there entertaining the people around him, just by being himself.
I need to preface this entry by saying I am a little biased because he is my father. But, all my life growing up I kept hearing "Oh, you're Rich Riggs' boy!" He's a local musician who used to teach at Talcott's and is retired music teacher from the Yakima school district. Many of my friends had him as a music teacher when they were in elementary school, including my wife. He also remembers all of the students he has ever had so that was an awkward setting knowing my dad remembers my wife when she was 8 years old. He currently teaches eager students to play musical instruments at Ted Brown Music at Nob Hill Plaza and you can find him regularly playing his viola outside of the Capitol Theatre before plays and shows. You won't find him outside before the Yakima Symphony Orchestra performances, though. As a member of the Yakima Symphony Orchestra you'll have to pay to see him, then.
If you grew up in Yakima in the 80s and part of the 90s, you watched the evening news with Dave Ettl. With his then trademark news anchor mustache he delivered the news you trusted. To me, he was as much of a celebrity growing up as any actor. Now, sans mustache, you can regularly hear him each morning on 1280 KIT bringing you his wit and personality that many in Yakima love him for. He has always been a celebrity MC at local events and charity functions and can still awe you with him up close magic tricks. He always has a trick up his sleeve or in his pocket and is always happy to oblige if you ask.
No doubt that times are tough to make ends meet. We have more people standing on street corners looking for spare change than ever before, but in my opinion, nobody is as popular as the guy who holds the sign that simply said "Hungry - $1.00" I have to assume that he'll happily accept any spare change you may have as well, even if it doesn't add up to exactly one dollar, but ask anyone in Yakima about the 'Hungry - $1.00' guy and they'll know who you're talking about.
We have too many great local restaurant options in Yakima, but one place you can always count on both from your friends and family's worth of mouth as well as the reviews from the regulars is Miz Dee's BBQ. With her equally famous Train-looking barbequer, Miz Dee has been feeding hungry patrons for years with authentic soul food. Her personality and charm brings out the flavor of her food that make you want to keep coming back.