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Woman’s volunteer efforts help local children, art community

CARLSBAD — Empty nest syndrome marked the end of one stage of Joni Miringoff’s life and the beginning of another.
Today, she is known as the beloved petal pusher who directs The Flower Fields in the spring and Art Splash in the fall.
Earlier this year Miringoff’s community efforts led to being honored with the Carlsbad Chamber Leadership Award. In 2005, she was named Carlsbad Citizen of the Year.
Miringoff is a native of Neenah, Wisc., home of Kimberly-Clark paper products. She, her husband Jim, and their family followed her parents to Carlsbad when they retired in 1984.
“They bought a furnished house on Almaden and I’d come every January with my four children,” she remembers. “They’d arrive sick and get better before we returned home.”
Miringoff said she always loved California and dreamed of moving here one day. “Today, I pinch myself because I’m so lucky to be able to live here, especially in Carlsbad.”
Miringoff’s family was her priority. She threw herself into the PTA and was also a room mother. For 30 years she served as head of North County Junior Tennis. In fact, the Miringoff family was named Southern California Tennis Family of the Year.
Joni Miringoff loved being a mom so much so that it was difficult letting her children go.
“I had Traci and Michael two and a half years apart, then there was a four-year break until Betsy and Jimmy arrived,” she said. “I’m glad it worked out that way because I wasn’t ready when the first two left.”
Miringoff had a gift basket business in the early 1990s. This led to a meeting with grower Edwin Frazee who tried to recruit her to sell flowers for him.
“I couldn’t at the time because of my business,” she said. “The following year I sold it and began selling flowers at the front shed at The Flower Fields.”
Miringoff did that for three years, then was recruited to generate tours. The experience led to her establishing a docent program, and later a growing program for kids.
“I used the same skills I did raising children,” she said. “Today 7,000 kids from Chula Vista to Fullerton participate. Just hearing them makes me happy.”
Other programs followed including one for composting.
“A happy child is a dirty child,” Miringoff adds. “At the end of the day I want all the children to go home happy, worn out and dirty.”
Concerned about cuts in school arts programs, Miringoff and artist Ron Juncal started Art Splash in 2002. The free, two-day event promotes the benefits of the arts within the community.
“We get 30,000 people for the two days,” Miringoff said. “Our goal is to raise money for music and the arts in North County. Last year we gave away a total of $15,000 to North County schools in grants.”
Miringoff directs a closely-knit team of bankers, hoteliers, artists and retirees that manage 350 volunteers for the festival. Juncal credits Miringoff’s people skills with making the event a success each year.
“Joni and I were in sync about celebrating art and not selling it,” he said. “To accomplish this, people usually push others around and muscle their way through it. Joni has a way of making things happen through friendship and laughter. She has the best people around her, and there is no turnover because we’ve all become friends.”
Miringoff’s time is committed to other endeavors throughout the year including the Carlsbad Rotary and Kiwanis. She also serves on the board of the Carlsbad Charitable Foundation and the Hospice of the North Coast.
Her children now have children of their own and careers. Traci serves as director of annual giving at The Williston Northampton School in Mass., Michael is regional sales manager of Wilson Sporting Goods, Betsy is marketing director of Jones Lang LaSalle and Jimmy teaches third and fourth grades at Alvin Dunn Elementary in San Marcos.
“I hope my children volunteer,” Miringoff said. “It forces you to go out in the community and meet people you normally wouldn’t have met. You don’t have to belong to a group. You can do it on your own.”
Art Splash is scheduled for Sept. 25 and Sept. 26. For more information, visit