Burbank Civitans roll out green carpet for St. Paddy's Day

Burbank Civitan Club President Elaine Paonessa was joined by her committee to roll out the green carpet to members, guests and local dignitaries as they presented their annual St. Patrick's Day Champagne Brunch at the Burbank Holiday Inn this past Sunday.

A Civitan tradition, once held at the now-gone Genio's Restaurant, this year's brunch saw members and their guests gather for the 42nd time to honor the patron saint of Ireland while also tipping their hats to the organization's 58th year of service to the community.

“This event subsidizes our two baseball jamborees and also provides us with the funds we make available for BCR ‘a place to grow,' which will be about $1,500 this year,” Paonessa explained as she welcomed the attendees.

The highlight of the brunch, a performance by the O'Connor School of Dance, has become an annual tradition at this event. 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”), a part of dance competitions that honor Celtic culture and pride, were local lasses and lad Jenna McRae, Molly and Eryn Waldman, Rory Brennan and Logan Porter.

St. Patrick's Day has always had a special significance to Burbank Civitans, 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” and the Burbank Parks, Recreation and Community Services Department's annual Baseball Jamboree, which 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 to support the Research Center for Mental Retardation in Birmingham, Ala.

Among those who enjoyed the brunch, entertainment and silent auction, all coordinated by Barry Kessler, were Mayor Dave Golonski, Vice Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy, Councilman Gary Bric and former Civitan President Randy Garcia, who now serves as the organization's district lieutenant governor.

Committee members and volunteers that made the day a success included Richard Bertain, Bobbie Garcia, Dee Dee Ruhlow, Joan Newboro and Sherry Goodstein Epstein. Others who celebrated the wearin' o' the green were Cotton Thompson, Sandy Dennis, Gary and Linda Oseransky, Rick Johnson, Dave and Krystyna Hackett, Shelly Bric and Dave Holland.

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.


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

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