On the Town: Seasonal soirees serve up tradition

Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa or “Festivus” (Google it non-”Seinfeld” fans), this time of year is rife with holiday traditions. Two of Burbank’s long-standing yuletide events added to their history as Mayor Dave Golonski and his wife, Barbara Sykes, and Joan “J.P.” O’Connor and her husband, Cotton Thompson, staged their respective annual holiday soirees this past week.

Always a highlight of the season for representatives of the local studios and business community, along with elected and appointed city officials, staff members, family and friends, Mayor Golonski and his wife have opened their Magnolia Park home for a holiday party to benefit numerous charities for close to two decades.

Asking that guests bring an unwrapped gift or make a financial donation, the mayor’s annual get-togethers benefit Kids International Foundation El Faro and Hacienda Orphanages of Tijuana, Mexico, the Burbank Coordinating Council’s Holiday Basket Program, and Five Acres —The Boys and Girls Aid Society of Los Angeles County, a child and family services agency that offers residential care and educational services, mental health services in homes and schools, foster care and adoptions, and domestic violence prevention.

Always well-attended by the city’s movers and shakers, this year’s party saw Burbank’s first couple serve as host and hostess to over 150 guests including U.S. Rep. Adam Schiff, Burbank Council members Jess Talamantes and Emily Gable-Luddy, City Clerk Zizette Mullins, School Board member Larry Applebaum, former-Councilman Tim Murphy, Police Chief Scott LaChasse and Burbank Water and Power General Manager Ron Davis.

While the Golonski-Sykes parties have been a longtime holiday mainstay, the O’Connor-Thompson team have them traditionally beat by a good 20 years. Back in the early 1970s, J.P.s mother, the late Mary Alice O’Connor, who was the inspiration for the Fairy Godmother in the Disney feature production of “Cinderella,” opened her home for a holiday cookie party. Little could Mary Alice have imagined that 40-plus year later her daughter and son-in-law would still be hosting the evening of confectionary sampling to a guest list that represents a broad section of the Burbank community that this year included former Mayor Marsha Ramos, Emmy Award-wining director of “The Simpsons” Mark Kirkland, Daniela Barragan of the Burbank Chapter of the American Cancer Society, Dilbeck Realtor Dan Soderstrom and Sherry Delizia who serves as the art director for the Boys and Girls Club of Burbank.

Others who enjoyed the gracious hosting of O’Connor and Thompson included Pete McGrath, Katherine Richards, Barbara Lazar, Jim DeLizia, Fay Playsted, Brenda Lantieri and Janet Killian.

DAVID LAURELL can be reached by e-mail dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

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