The Valley Line: Retro fundraiser heads 'Up, Up and Away'

It was a nostalgic retro night June 2 when Five Acres held its ninth annual Swingin' on a Star benefit, this year themed “Up, Up and Away.”

The beautiful Ambassador campus in Pasadena was the site for the party. More than 200 guests checked in at the “airline counter” to get their first-class boarding passes for an evening of music, fine food and tempting auction items. The evening was in support of Five Acres' work and programs to establish safe, lasting and loving family connections for vulnerable children. More than $160,000 was raised.

Some of the guests, who wanted to recapture the time when Pan Am ruled the skies and its first-class lounge was the place to be seen, wore fashionable mink stoles, pillbox hats, and Chanel-style tailored suit jackets.

Uniformed “flight attendants” passed hors d'oeuvres as guests sipped popular cocktails of that era — an old fashioned or a greyhound.

While sipping and sharing cocktail small talk with fellow passengers, guests were entertained by crooner Douglas Roegiers, who sang the songs of Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin and Dean Martin.

The duty-free wine shop saw brisk business as guests gathered to peruse a wine-wall that offered more than 30 bottles of wines from great California vineyards as well as France. Of course wine aficionados wanted to buy ticket sales for the opportunity to win just one of these outstanding bottles.

Wishing guests bon voyage were chairs for the evening Inger Miller and Jill Hawkins, who were party coordinators extraordinaire.

Kent Shocknek of CBS 2 News did a superb job as emcee for the evening. He also auctioned two opportunities for guests to watch a live CBS newscast and a behind the scenes tour of the CBS2/KCAL9 broadcast center.

A highlight of the evening came when Ruben Ortega, a resident of Five Acres group home, stepped to the microphone to tell the story of his family and the care he has received.

He is the valedictorian of his high school graduating class and he told of his college plans. At the close of his address he received a standing ovation.

Honorees for the evening were Vivian Chan and the United Charity Foundation.

Chan was introduced by Rep. Judy Chu as a woman of incredible energy who never stops in her quest to make a difference for the children and families at Five Acres. Chan is vice president of United Charity Foundation.

Also accepting honors from Five Acres as honorees were representatives of the United Charity Foundation Dr. Carl Moy, foundation chairman, and Linda Lo, president.

La Cañada Flintridge was well represented that evening with Five Acres supporters Judith and Stan Farrar, who are official Five Acre ambassadors; Tom and Rowena Boquet; board member Don Bishop and his wife, Karen; Gary and Brooke Moore; Carol and Bob Williams; Cathy Clement, Five Acres chief development officer, with her husband, Paul; Marijane Hebert; and Jack and Cathi Beauclair.

It was great to see Caroline Swemline, who is president of the La Cañada Junior Women's Club. The club gives generous support to Five Acres and has adopted two of its cottages and their residents for special assistance.

I was also was delighted to see Leah Feland Cullin and her husband John. Leah lived here in La Cañada when she was named Rose Queen in 1953.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada social scene. Email her at

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