The Valley Line: Thursday Club celebrates its 100th year

On Saturday night, Dec. 1, the historic La Cañada Thursday Club House on Woodleigh Lane, built in 1927, was aglow with the soft light of candles and festive good cheer.

Members and guests were celebrating the club's 100th anniversary with a beautiful Centennial Christmas Gala. More than 100 guests arrived for the festivities, most in cocktail attire, with some of the women choosing to wear vintage gowns reflective of the club's earliest days.

The beautiful invitations enticing guests to take part in this memorable celebration were designed and handmade by past Thursday Club president Judy Cooper, who served on the gala committee with co-chairs Joani Bartoli-Porto, Barbara Self, Gale Caswell (this year's club president) and Sheri Morton.

The dining room was ever so sophisticated with its black table cloths, red napkins, lighted topiaries on each table and a beautiful Christmas tree on the stage.

Bartoli-Porto introduced the guest of honor, John Knight, her friend of 60 years. He is the great-grandson of Elizabeth Knight, who founded the club a century ago.

Knight is a county supervisor of El Dorado County in Northern California. He attended the party with his wife, Georgie; their daughter, Joy; their son, Cliff with his wife, Christy and their daughter, Kimberly. Joy's escort was John Halpin.

Little Kimberly, whose hair is the color of a bright, shiny penny and who is not quite 2 years old, stole the show with her sparkly dress and her ever-present bottles of milk. This little tyke is a party girl who danced every dance until the party winded down.

The Knight family was presented with a proclamation from the city of La Cañada Flintridge and also from outgoing state Assemblyman Anthony Portantino.

The evening began with a champagne toast to the club's founder. In 1886, Elizabeth Knight came to California from Missouri with her husband Jesse and six children by covered wagon. They arrived in Pasadena on Christmas Day. Within a few short months they decided to move to the “country,” which later became the town of La Cañada.

The Knight family became very active in the creation of this town, and in 1912, Elizabeth, wanting to begin philanthropic endeavors, gathered around her like- minded women. Together they launched the beginning of the community's oldest women's organization.

Guests attending this momentous occasion were presented beautiful silhouettes of themselves created by artist Candice Colbert, a gift from the club's Community Relations Committee.

Guests dined on a dinner of grilled salmon and beef filet, which was topped off with cherry cheesecake in a martini glass. Before dinner was served, Tom Caswell offered a prayer.

Bartenders for the evening's cocktail hour were Dave Moffet, Peter Cooper and Mark Miller.

After dinner, dancing began to the lively music of the eight-piece band, “Jumpin' Joz” and its three accompanying singers. The band also gave guests a lesson in swing dancing that was truly enjoyed by all.

The evening was a beautiful tribute to the spirit of its founder and the women who have been members of the club over all of its 100 years.

JANE NAPIER NEELY covers the La Cañada Flintridge social scene. E-mail her at with news of your special event.

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