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The Valley Line: Holiday cheer abounds in La Cañada and environs

It is almost “Ho, Ho, Ho” time. Christmas is next week! Even though it seems to me this celebration comes too fast, I’m sure it feels like an eternity for all the little kids that are still trying to be good for Santa.

Holiday parties and events abound and I’m sure I’ll be missing some of them. I hope that doesn’t stop you from telling me about your special events because I’ll be delighted to put them into the paper. Don’t be shy!

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On Tuesday, Dec. 11, I attended the La Cañada High School’s Choral Music Department’s Christmas Concert held at First United Methodist Church of Pasadena. The beautiful church in downtown Pasadena was founded in 1875. The two-story sanctuary is so classic I felt like I was in a European cathedral.

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Dr. Jeff Brookey directs the school’s choral music department, which includes the Concert Choir, the Chamber Singers, 7/8 Women’s Ensemble, the 7/8 Vocal Ensemble, the Women’s Ensemble and the Men’s Ensemble.

It was a wonderful program, with Brookey conducting and Jenna Atias at the piano. Marion Kuszyk, an oboist with the Los Angeles Philharmonic, was a special guest performer. (An aside: Marion’s husband, Brent, was last week seated as president of the La Cañada school board.) Student instrumentalists were also part of the program.

There was hardly an empty seat in the sanctuary, which seats nearly 300 people. It was an exciting evening for not only the singers, but also their families.

These young singers are amazing. Mark their next concerts down on your calendar, because you won’t want to miss them: On Feb. 1, the 7/8 choirs will stage a pops concert at the school auditorium. On March 9, all of the choirs will present their Spring Festival Concert at the First United Methodist Church.

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The La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce held its festive annual holiday meeting, hosted by Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy. Sister Carolyn McCormack, president of the school, greeted the more than 100 guests along with Pat Anderson, president and chief executive of the chamber.

Signing the guests in was Nancy Rappard, who takes care of administration and member services for the chamber. She was assisted by Tina Daly, a friend who volunteered to help out.

The main reception area of the school, which was originally an elegant hotel in days gone by, was decorated for the season with numerous poinsettias, wreaths and softly glowing candles.

Especially joyful were the school’s chamber singers, who performed Christmas music.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino, as well as his district representative Evette Kim, were VIPs in attendance.

Dave Silversparre was the big winner of the 50/50 raffle of $600. He graciously donated half of his winnings to the Miss La Cañada Flintridge court to go toward their college scholarships.

Adam Ralphs, chairman-elect of the chamber’s board of directors, was the emcee for the evening because current chairman Steve Hronek was under the weather on the night of the event.

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We learned via email that the La Cañada Presbyterian Church’s Parent Education participants and the community volunteers recently gathered to fill shoe boxes with school supplies, baby dolls, balls, crayons, toothpaste and other toiletries to be delivered to children worldwide through Operation Christmas Child.

The program is part of Samaritan’s Purse, which, over the past 28 years, has collected and delivered more than 100 million gift-filled shoe boxes to children living in more than 150 countries and territories. The program aims to deliver joy to approximately 11 million children worldwide annually.

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Jeanette Stirdivant, president of the local chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution, greeted 48 members and guests to the group’s recent luncheon meeting held at Oakmont Country Club.

Keynote speaker at the luncheon was Peggy Grande, author of “The President Will See You Now.” She was President Ronald Reagan’s executive assistant from 1989 to 1999. Grande’s mother-in-law, Virginia Grande, is a member of the Don José Verdugo DAR chapter.

Peggy Grande related many interesting stories of her 10 years working with President Reagan, describing him as a man of principle and leadership. She quoted from her book and shared photos from her private collection.

Jane Napier Neely covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. Email her at jnvalleysun@aol.com with news of your special event.

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