The big topic of conversation in La Cañada last weekend at the many events I attended centered on the Space Shuttle Endeavour as it made its majestic glide over the area on Friday, Sept. 21.
There was no way on earth that I could let the historic event of its last flight over our valley go by without being there to salute her. After all, we were saying goodbye to an era.
I decided that my best vantage point would be at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club parking lot. By the time I arrived at the club, there was a sizable crowd of shuttle watchers jockeying for parking places. I was lucky enough to score the last one.
There was such a sense of camaraderie as the crowd chatted while not losing sight of the horizon. We first sighted the Endeavour flying by the downtown Los Angeles skyline buildings and a loud cheer went up. We watched as the 747 plane carrying the shuttle piggyback disappeared behind the hills near the Griffith Park Observatory. Within minutes it reappeared and made a beeline for JPL.
The plane carrying Endeavour, with its guard of dual fighter planes, made an impressive banking turn toward the country club. The crowd (including me) went wild with clapping, whistling and by honking car horns — it was like New Year's Eve!
I must admit that seeing this magnificent shuttle and the plane carrying it gave me goose bumps. A few tears even slipped down my cheeks.
Now I must catch up with a little bit of vacation news of some of our community members.
Eva and Jan Macho, along with their daughter, Michelle, her husband, Tim Sabourin, and their kids, Carli and Justin, recently took a Mediterranean cruise that stopped in many exciting ports of call along the French and Italian rivieras, Barcelona and Rome.
After the cruise, Michelle then flew to London to introduce her kids to this magnificent city.
Tim's mom, Jeanne Sabourin Walston, who has travel lust almost as much as I do, met up with them in London. While in the city they explored all the important sites and saw many of the Olympic venues. Big on the kids' list of exciting things to see was the newly opened Harry Potter museum in downtown London.
It was a grand vacation, and Carli and Justin had plenty of stories to share with their friends at school.
The palatial La Cañada Flintridge home of Vivian and Mozaffar Afshar was the setting for the recent Hathaway-Sycamores Celebrating Children Award ceremony. More than $80,000 was raised to benefit the 9,000 children and families served each year by Hathaway-Sycamores.
The Afshars were lovely and generous hosts as they greeted more than 200 guests for cocktails in their beautifully landscaped back garden. Expertly chairing the event were La Cañada Flintridge women Lisa Freer, Jennifer Jewell and Jennifer Suh.
Guests sipped cooling beverages and enjoyed tidbits of marvelous hors d'oeuvres prepared by Lawry's Restaurants.
One of the recipients of the Celebrating Children award that night went to Richard Frank, president and chief executive of Lawry's Restaurants Inc., which also operates the Prime Rib, Tam O'Shanter, Lawry's Carvery and Five Crowns.
Beginning the Frank family's compassionate commitment to Hathaway-Sycamores was Richard's mother, Mary Alice. In the 1980s she joined the agency's board of directors and went on to chair the board.
Following in his mom's footsteps was Frank, who joined the board in 1990 and served as chair until 2001. He was named emeritus board member in 2002.
Recipients of the Business Award were Llamas Plastics, which for the past 20 years has acted as Santa for children at Hathaway-Sycamores. Aside from donating hundreds of holiday gifts, Llamas Plastics has actively participated in Hathaway-Sycamores' Vocational Internship Program through which teens who are emancipating from the foster-care system receive support services, including job training. Accepting the award for the late Oswald Llamas were his children, Rick Llamas and Cindy Smith.
A memorable time in the evening came when Selenia Lagos came to the microphone to share her story. She is in a Vocational Internship Program with Hathaway-Sycamores and is an office assistant at Llamas Plastics.
Rachael Worby, music director of Muse/Ique, emceed the formal portion of the evening. Worby holds music workshops for Hathaway-Sycamores residents.
La Cañada Flintridge resident Renee LaBran, chair of the board at Hathaway-Sycamores, welcomed guests. Bill Martone, chief executive of the agency, and Rob Myers, its executive vice president, made further remarks at the podium.
JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org with news of your local event.