Toasting new year with a party, museum visit

Glendale Adult Recreation Center’s new building had its very first New Year’s Eve celebration. More than 100 seniors gathered on Friday for their own version of welcoming in 2011. The doors opened at 10 a.m. and at 11:15, a lavish lunch of roast beef au jus was served.

Just before noon, the countdown began and when they hit one, noise makers went off, confetti was tossed, sparkling apple cider flowed and DJ “Danny” played Auld Lang Syne. Dancing went on until 1 p.m.

These seniors wanted their fun during daylight hours and planned to be in bed by the time midnight rolled around. But the real partiers were looking forward to their own evening gatherings, as well. Four close “Best Friends Forever” from Glendale, Andrea Curiel, Julia Amezcua, Josefa Riviera and Noemy Martinez, had family parties planned.

All, except Martinez, have been coming to New Year’s Eve lunch at the Adult Rec Center for 20 years.

“We have good friends and healthy food here,” Amezcua said.

All four ladies also regularly take advantage of the services offered by the rec center for a mere $10 a year. There’s the new gym with the latest in exercise equipment. There are classes that offer yoga, Tai Chi, stretching and weights. Then there’s Friday Night Bingo. The New Year’s Eve party was free for members and guests. And the best part — to be eligible for it all, “seniors” only have to be at least 55 years old and ante up the annual $10.

The ladies tended to be reticent about revealing their ages, but the men didn’t mind. Posing for a sparkling apple juice toast were 78-year-old Ronald Cochran and 65-year-old John Ragasa, a “baby” of the group. Both are Glendale residents.

Kudos must go the hardworking rec center staff for organizing such a jazzy affair. Community Services Director Julie Anne Leviant supervised. Daughter Amelie, 5, helped mom. Program Specialist Darlene Biskalis and Facilities Director Mike McCroskey were gracious greeters.

This is one good time that should never be missed, providing you’re grown up enough.

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For area residents looking to maximize their dollars on New Year’s Day, many headed to the Autry Museum, just between Glendale and Los Angeles. On Saturday, a visit to the Autry was on the house. This year, New Year’s Day was “Free Day at the Autry.” (That’s a $9 savings for adults.) Current exhibitions include “Siqueiros in Los Angeles: Censorship Defied.” The exhibit was made up of an array of works that the celebrated Mexican muralist and political activist, David Alfaro Siqueiros, created during a visit to the City of Angels in 1932.

Siqueiros is known for painting street art for all to enjoy. In commemoration, the Autry set up a blank mural, 10 feet by 22 feet, on which museum visitors can create their own art on Saturday and Sunday afternoons. Children flocked to the mural at the entrance to the museum. With an acrylic paint pen in the color of their choice, budding artists could paint to their hearts’ content.

Burbank resident Leila Barone, 4, was among the first in line. Her color of choice was yellow. Proud Dad Brandon Barone looked on as he held his 6-month-old son, artist-in-waiting Charlie Barone. Leila’s cousins Tyler Adams, 11, and Ryan Adams, 5, from Tujunga, also added their colorful acrylics to the mural. Mom and pop Jill and Kip Adams said they were tempted to join in. Museum teacher Cynthia Querio was in charge of passing out the paint pens and collecting them when the little artists had completed their creations.

The public mural will eventually be hung in either the museum’s Education Department or in the museum collection itself. The last afternoon to leave your mark on the mural is Jan. 9 when the Siqueiros exhibition closes.

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