Festival of Trees bearing gifts

For 35 years, the Assistance League of Glendale has presented its Festival of Trees. This year's location, the Glendale Hilton, provided a sparkling setting for this looked-forward-to occasion.

On Sunday, close to 500 supporters headed to the hotel's foyer where a silent auction started at 10 a.m. Shortly after that, the ballroom opened to more chances to give and receive at the same time — items including 21 lush, highly decorated Christmas trees lining the walls.

One of the most popular opportunity prizes was the perennial Santa's sack full of gift certificates to the best of Glendale restaurants, such as Palate Food + Wine. Also popular was a tree full of crystal birds with an accompanying $200 Costco certificate.

Just before lunch, Assistance League President Jean Peacock welcomed her audience of women and a sprinkling of men, all in their Sunday best. Referring to the change in venue, Peacock said, "We are delighted to be home for the holidays in Glendale."

She announced that through the fundraising efforts of the Assistance League, more than 500 Glendale elementary school children were dressed, $8,000 was given in scholarships, and $2,000 in cash and books were given to each of five Glendale elementary schools.

The league's Authors and Illustrators Day, providing a large share of those funds, was started in 1997 by members Nancy Frazee and Karen Grigg. Husbands Jerry Frazee and Gary Grigg were at the Festival in support of their hardworking wives.

Event Chairman Karen Millman recognized Diane Thisdell as the first chairwoman of the Festival of Trees in 1975. This year's committee was also recognized, including Karen Grigg and Barbara Hamer, Danette Erickson on publicity, Mary Margaret Smith in charge of opportunity tickets sales and Sally Benson, who put together the silent auction of more than 50 glittering prizes.

Entertainment included the Crescenta Valley High School Charismatics Strolling Carolers and the Glendale High School Chamber Choir, introduced by Terry Jones, the first emcee at a Festival of Trees. Jones is the son-in-law of Diane Thisdell.

Glendale residents present included Margaret Hammond, Martha Feutz, Mary Rose Grim, Lynda Burns, Chloe Rubenstein and Suzanne and John Bangert with son David Bangert.

Expected proceeds of $50,000 will help support Assistance League charities, such as Operation School Bell and the Senior Neighborhood Fellowship luncheons.

Glendale Community College held its biannual Holiday Ceramics sale on a cool Saturday afternoon at the Student Center.

Crowds were standing-room only as they waited for the 1 p.m. opening. Once the doors opened, potential buyers were greeted with long tables brimming with pottery made of stoneware, porcelain, raku majolica and more — all student-made.

Ceramics Department head Mark Poore, teaching at the college for 29 years, said the sale helps students market and price their work. College potters included Mary Oligny and her son, 20-year-old Jay Oligny.

Mary Oligny, also a painter, has been in the ceramics program for three years. Son Jay is in his second semester as a studio arts major. He says throwing pots gives him a "therapeutic sense of accomplishment."

College student Arev Yeghiazaryan was one of the first customers at the show. An art buff, her major is business administration and accounting. After a look at the beautiful ceramics on display, Yeghiazaryan said, "I may change my major."

Holiday sales abound this time of year. One that can always be counted on is the Stone Cottage Holiday Boutique in La Crescenta. On Saturday, the Crescenta Valley United Methodist Church hosted the boutique presented by the artists of "Just Us Too."

Dozens of shoppers visited the boutique on Friday and Saturday. Friday's early birds snapped up hundreds of the ever-popular miniature cakes, many of which had a new ingredient from past years — Bailey's Irish Cream.

Those who waited until Saturday missed the cakes, but had a load of more goodies to buy. A bouquet of brightly colored artificial flowers attracted shopper Kim Finerty of Glendale. She was previously lead teacher for three years at the church's Child Care Center.

Finerty was accompanied at the boutique by one of her fellow teachers, Sylvia Durand, a Glendale Community College student.

Hint to Stone Cottage Boutique shoppers: Come early; come often.

RUTH SOWBY may be reached at ruthasowby@gmail.com.

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