Life and Arts

On the Town: Burbank Chamber of Commerce celebrates its 100th anniversary with style

Barry Gussow, left, and Burbank Councilman Jess Talamantes ushering in the chamber’s 100th year at the Smoke House.
(David Laurell/Burbank Leader)

While there is no longer anyone around who actually remembers the year women got the right to vote and everyone lost the right to imbibe in alcohol, history tells us that 1920 was also the year Warren G. Harding was elected president, the National Football League was established, and a 25-year-old phenomenon from Maryland named George Herman Ruth Jr. was reigning as the king of America’s pastime.

Locally, only nine years had passed since the California state legislature had given Burbank the green-light to incorporate, a man by the name of Willard A. Blanchard was serving as the newly formed city’s fourth mayor, and the Burbank Chamber of Commerce was initially formed.

This past week, members of the chamber looked back over those 100 years as they celebrated their centennial anniversary at the Smoke House restaurant.

The event was hosted by Tom Flavin, the chamber’s president, Karen Volpei-Gussow, who serves as chairperson of the chamber’s executive board, and chamber staff members Chris Hunter and Mindy Kanaskie.


Also there were more than 200 members and guests representing various factions of Burbank.

Among the notables in attendance for last week’s event were state Sen. Anthony Portantino (D-La Cañada Flintridge), Vice Mayor Bob Frutos, City Councilman Jess Talamantes, and former Mayors Michael Hastings and Anja Reinke.

The celebration also kicked off the chamber’s new policy of staging larger venue mixers they are now calling “centennial events” every other month as opposed to every month, which the organization has done for years.

“We felt that by doing these mixers every other month, we will have more time to make them bigger and have an appeal to those beyond our membership,” Hunter said.


“Our mixers have always been open to the public, but we believe that by doing them bimonthly, we will be able to do a better job of engaging residents, welcoming them to attend, and giving them a chance to network, learn more about Burbank, and give them a better understanding of who we are and what the chamber does for our community,” he said.

The centennial-year events, scheduled throughout the end of this year will include galas to be held at Hollywood Burbank Airport, Media Studios North, the Walt Disney Co., Warner Bros. Studios’ new visitor center and Burbank Town Center.

Established in 1920, the Burbank Chamber of Commerce is the city’s leading business advocate group that helps to promote economic growth and prosperity.

The chamber represents nearly 1,000 member businesses with more than 33,000 employees.

For more information about upcoming chamber mixers, events and membership, visit

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