On the Town: Dignitaries help celebrate the YMCA’s 90 years

With the city of Burbank just entering its teens, 1924 saw the birth of numerous individuals who would go on to become legendary and iconic figures reaching the pinnacle of their respective fields — Marlon Brando, Henry Mancini, Sarah Vaughan, Lauren Bacall, Truman Capote, George H.W. Bush and Jimmy Carter.

The year also saw the establishment of the Burbank Community YMCA.

Today, with the passage of 90 years, only three of the aforementioned are still with us — former Presidents Bush and Carter and the Burbank Y.

Looking better and operating stronger than ever, the local YMCA, which has staged numerous events in conjunction with its yearlong 90th anniversary celebration throughout 2014, culminated those festivities with a gala fundraiser this past Thursday evening.

Hosted by Nickelodeon Animation Studio, the event, held in the studio’s courtyard and billed as “Cheers to 90 Years,” saw more than 275 of the city’s past and present business, governmental and community leaders turn out to offer their support and best wishes.

Welcomed by the Y’s president and CEO, JC Holt, the event’s chairwoman, Yvette Herrera, who serves as the organization’s director of philanthropy and community engagement, and David Escobar, chairman of the Burbank Community YMCA board, the gathering enjoyed an evening of wine and olive oil tastings, music, dancing and silent and live auctions that included an exclusive tour of Jay Leno’s garage, a tour of the Burbank Police Department, lunch and a ride-a-long with Police Chief Scott LaChasse, and a tour of the Burbank Fire Department and lunch with Fire Chief Tom Lenahan.

The evening also provided guests with rare access to peruse Nickelodeon’s art gallery, which is not open to the general public.

Among the dignitaries who enjoyed the event were Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Burbank), Assemblyman Mike Gatto (D-Silver Lake), Mayor David Gordon, Vice Mayor Bob Frutos, Councilman Jess Talamantes, City Manager Mark Scott, Burbank Chamber of Commerce President Gary Olson and former Mayor Bill Wiggins, who was accompanied by his wife, Marilyn, who serves on the Y’s board of directors.

Other board members whose work and dedication made all of this year’s celebrations and Thursday’s event a success were Mary Alvord, Jonathan Taylor, Roger Koll, Don St. Clair, Randy Beckwith, Greg Bowman, Ryan Bowne, Joseph Castano, Sheila Browne, Joy Forbes, Arnoldo Jaquez, Ryan Kugler, Wade Mikels, Steven Mora, Ken Nielsen, Lisa Rawlins, Duane Rediger, David Rosso, Dennis Slipakoff and Stephen Veres.

The Burbank Community YMCA, which received the first business license ever issued by the city of Burbank, opened its doors in 1924 as a chapter of the Glendale Y.

Today, with a state-of-the-art health and activities center and adjacent Child Development Center located in the heart of downtown Burbank, the Y’s commitment to youth, healthy living and social responsibility is manifested through a variety of programs for those of all ages and income levels.

Funds raised through last week’s event will help fund the continuation of the Y’s expansion of outreach and financial assistance programs that make Y membership available to all, with youth empowerment and service programs, collection drives for school supplies and goods for the homeless, year-round preschool and school-aged child care, and physical and social engagement for seniors.

For more information on the Burbank Community YMCA, visit

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at or (818) 563-1007.