In the Neighborhood: Jovana Lara takes fond look back at place she calls home - Glendale

GLENDALE, Calif. (KABC) -- Follow along with ABC7's own Jovana Lara as she takes a tour of the place she calls home - Glendale.

Lara said she had the best friendships in high school. She went to Holy Family High School, an all-girls Catholic school, after graduating from Holy Family Grade School right across the street, where she loved playing volleyball.

Lara and her friends Pammy, Michelle and Maryjo were among the 80 girls in her high school graduating class.

In high school, Lara was co-captain of the cheerleading squad and served on student council, but her fondest memories are of her time on the yearbook committee with Sister Suzanne Stopper.

Lara's parents raised her and her sister Sandra in Glendale after emigrating from Cuba. Lara and her mother landed at Los Angeles International Airport one day before Lara's sixth birthday. Her father and the rest of her family were excited to greet us

Glendale was a bedroom community back then. Brand Boulevard was lined with small store fronts, including Porto's Bakery, which was a regular stop for her family.

"People came to the bakery because back in the day we were the only Cuban place around, so people came to it because it was home," said Betty Porto.

Among Lara's Porto's favorites are the guava and cheese pastries called refugiados and the medianoche sandwich.

Now the Porto family has several bakeries throughout Southern California and business is booming.

Lara also had her first jobs on Brand Boulevard - one of them was alongside her friend Maryjo.

When Lara grew up in Glendale, the Galleria was the main attraction. Then the Americana came in and changed the face of Glendale.

"The downtown is more of a downtown nowadays. You have these great restaurants and bars and the businesses are really flourishing," said Glendale Mayor Zareh Sinanyan.

For Lara, Glendale will always be home - with great Cuban food and a little Salsa dancing for dessert!
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