A party woven into city's fabric

When a group or organization stages an annual event that goes on for 10 or 20 years, it is clearly a success. As the event continues into its third decade, it evolves into a tradition. And as it hits the fourth-decade milestone, it takes on a life of its own, becoming an event that is indelibly woven into the very fabric of the community. This is the case with the Burbank Civitan Club’s annual St. Patrick’s Day Brunch that was staged for the 40th time this past week.

The Castaway’s Starlight Room served as the venue for this venerable event in which the wearin’ o’ the green is as de rigueur as the heaping plates of corned beef and cabbage and performances by The O’Connor School of Irish Dance.

Always a sellout, this year’s brunch was made possible by Burbank Civitan President Dave Holland and the event committee, which was composed of Richard Bertain, Randy Garcia, Morey Goodstein, Elaine Paonessa, Barry Kessler and Gaye Guilmette.

Among those attending were Burbank Councilman Gary Bric and his wife Shelly, Bobbie Garcia, Dee Dee Ruhlow, Cotton Thompson and Joan Patricia “J.P.” O’Connor, Sandy Dennis, Nancy Smallwood, Brady, Jenny, Lauren and Colin Griffin, Barbara Hamer, Rose Holland, Darrin and Susan Borders, Joan Newbro, Shari Epstein and David Escobar.

The highlight of this annual event is the performance by the O’Connor School dancers that included Ashley Benton, Daryl Goldes, Emily Stewart, Amelia Meyer, Megan McLaughlin, Lauren Waldman, Hannah, Delaney and Aiden Niehoff, Kathleen Schwartz, Sarah McGee, Zenaida McKinney, Jenna McRae and Doyle Kane.

Chartered in March of 1955, the Burbank Civitan Club supports numerous local organizations and events including BCR “a place to grow” and the annual Civitan Baseball Jamborees for the Hap Minor and Pony Tail Leagues. The club’s annual St. Patrick’s Day brunch raises funds to support the Special Olympics and the Research Center for Mental Retardation in Birmingham, Ala.


St. Patty’s Day celebrations continued as green beer and Irish whiskey was poured at the home of Paul and Janet McKenna, who along with their son Liam, welcomed more than 75 guests including former-Mayor Marsha Ramos and her husband Dave, Eva Chiaravalle, Katherine Toscano, Vince and Kristy Carnegie, Cynde Lyneis-Laurent, Tony Toscano, Paul Chiarvalle and War II veterans Bill and Doris Vick, who recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary.

Also on hand were Greg Bragg, Bruce and Lisa Scott, Todd Kelly, Paul Reyes, Isabel Suarez Aguilar, Katherine Cervantes Toscano and Orion Marley.

McKenna, who served in the U.S. Army as a sergeant first class, said he has hosted a St. Patrick’s Day party each year for the past 18 years, although he did have to delay it a bit once due to his deployment in Iraq.

“When I returned in August of 2009, we celebrated with a St. Pat’s Plus Six Months party in September,” he said with a laugh. “Hopefully, St. Patrick’s with the McKenna clan has been around long enough to be called a Burbank tradition.”

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