Members of the Burbank Civitan Club once again rolled out the green carpet to members, guests and local dignitaries as they staged their annual St. Patrick's Day Champagne Brunch at the Castaway this past Sunday. A Burbank tradition, once celebrated at the now-gone Genio's Restaurant, this year saw over 250 Civitans and their supporters gather for the 41st time to honor the patron saint of Ireland, while also tipping their green derby hats to the organization's 57th year of service to the community.
St. Patrick's Day has always had a special significance to Burbank Civitans being as their charter was granted on March 17, 1955. Since then, the group has provided both monetary and in-kind support for numerous organizations including BCR "A Place to Grow" (formerly Burbank Center for the Retarded) and the Burbank Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department's annual Baseball Jamboree that stages an annual parade of decorated trucks and cars that carry hundreds of local players and Special Olympics participants through the streets of Burbank to Izay Park. The club also works to raise funds to benefit the international organization of Civitan Clubs that support the Research Center for Mental Retardation in Birmingham, Ala.
The highlight of the afternoon — which has become a traditional part of this event — was a performance by the O'Connor School of Dance. Established in Waterford on the Emerald Isle, the O'Connor School of Dance came to the United States in 1960, and has been operating in the San Fernando Valley, under the direction of Bella O'Connor Yerina, since 1978.
Performing traditional dances of Feis (pronounced "Fesh"), that are a part of dance competitions that honor Celtic culture and pride, were local lasses and lad Kathleen Schwartz, Delaney Niehoff, Jenna McRae, Lauren Waldman, Molly Waldman, Eryn Waldman, Amelia Meyer, Daryl Goldes, Emma Kelly, Elizabeth Makitalo, Megan McLaughlin, Sarah McGee, Rory Brennan and Aidan Niehoff.
Among those who enjoyed the corn beef and cabbage brunch, silent auction and entertainment were Council members Emily Gabel-Luddy and Gary Bric, Civitan President Randy Garcis, and the event's committee members and volunteers that included Barry Kessler, Elaine Paonessa, Randy Garcia, Richard Bertain, Dee Dee Ruhlow, Joan Newboro, Sherry Goodstein Epstein and Jennifer Jordan. Others who celebrated the wearin' o' the green were Cotton Thompson and Joan Patricia "J.P." O'Connor, Sandy Dennis, Gary and Linda Oseransky, Rick Johnson, David Escobar, Shelly Bric, Sue and Darren Borders, Bobbie Garcia, Dave and Rose Holland and Debra Kessler.
The mission of the Civitan Club is to build good citizens dedicated to serving individual and community needs with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities.