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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: Miss LCF finalists, debs, VHH Women’s Council and Children’s Hospital guild all on the move

Miss La Cañada Flintridge
Finalists in the Miss La Cañada Flintridge competition gather for a group photo with civic leaders. Top row, from left, judge Erik Ovanespour, Alya Nappi, Grace Fontes, Devyn Cox, Reese Ramseyer, Eunice Kang, Gloria Gong, judge Mark Alexander and judge Adam Ralphs. Bottom row, from left, Mayor Pro Tem Greg Brown, Annalise Evans, Ally Rayer, Audrey Melillo, Kelleigh Serdar, Kendall Knudsen, Ellaney Matarese, Malaya Perushek and Katherine Markgraf, Royal Court adviser. Not pictured is finalist Maggie MacKenzie.
(Courtesy of the LCF Chamber of Commerce)

As the holiday season arrives, the La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce is gearing up for its Festival in Lights, which will be held in Memorial Park during the late afternoon/early evening of Dec. 6.

This annual tradition is so much fun, especially for the kids in town. It’s also exciting for young women who have tried out for the 2020 Miss La Cañada Flintridge Royal Court. Fourteen finalists have made it through the competition stage; five of them will be named during the festival as members of the court.

The finalists are Devyn Cox, Annalise Evans, Grace Fontes, Gloria Gong, Eunice Kang, Kendall Knudsen, Maggie MacKenzie, Ellaney Matarese, Audrey Melillo, Alya Nappi, Malaya Perushek, Reese Ramseyer, Ally Rayer and Kelleigh Serdar. One of the five finalists announced Dec. 6 will be crowned Miss La Cañada Flintridge on Jan. 30 at the chamber’s installation gala.



Autumn has found the La Cañada Thursday Club debutante provisionals very busy participating in outings to fulfill their cultural and personal development requirements.

 La Cañada Thursday Club debs
Enjoying an outing are La Cañada Thursday Club debs, from left, Lauren Gmelich, Grace Fontes, Kelleigh Serdar, Maddie Reinoso, Seema Kayali, Sarita Sharma, Carolyne James and Kendall Knudsen.
(Courtesy of the La Cañada Valley Sun)

The teens enjoyed the artwork at the Norton Simon Museum in Pasadena, where they added some intrigue by completing an art scavenger hunt. After the tour at the museum they explored the historic Craftsman-style Gamble House, also located in Pasadena.

Sheri Morton, past president of the Thursday Club and a former schoolteacher, instructed the girls about the art of writing thank-you notes. She also demonstrated the ins and outs of both professional and personal correspondence and the importance of handwritten letters.

Gamble House tour
Having fun at the Gamble House tour are, from left, Grace Fontes, Kelleigh Serdar, Kendall Knudsen, Sarita Sharma, Carolyne James, Maddie Reinoso, Seema Kayali and Payton Shaylor.
(Courtesy of the La Cañada Thursday Club)


The girls were then given their own monogrammed stationery and wrote lovely thank-you notes to several instructors in the debutante program.

For more information on the La Cañada Thursday Club’s Les Fleurettes program, contact Ani Derhartounian at

It was a night of big laughs and small bites when the USC-VHH Women’s Council held a Comedy Night last Thursday in the Council Room at Verdugo Hills Hospital.

Before the frivolity began, guests partook of lots of tasty tidbits in a well-stocked buffet.

Since I’m not generally amused by stand-up acts, I surprised myself and everyone around me by laughing the loudest and longest. All three of the comedians absolutely tickled my funny bone and my sides ached from laughing so heartily. That’s certainly not a bad thing. Can’t we all use comedy relief in our crazy world?

Comedy Night at Verdugo Hills Hospital Women’s Council
Taking part in the Comedy Night at Verdugo Hills Hospital Women’s Council were, from left, Pierre Bardakjian, emcee; Omar Covarrubias, comedic magician; Kira Soltanovich and Frank Lucero.
(Jane Napier Neely)

The comedians were a varied bunch that truly believe laughter is the best medicine. Pierre Bardakjian, a VHH employee, volunteered his time to be emcee for the evening.

The night opened with Frank Lucero as he talked about his Latin heritage and absolutely sent the crowd into gales of laughter with his imitations of Mariachi musicians. By the way, for all of his sense of fun, he is an excellent guitarist.


Next up to amuse us was the comedy magician Omar Covarrubias, who amazed us with his bag of tricks delivered with such humor. More than once guests let out gasps of surprise with some of his magic.

Rounding out the evening was certainly a change of pace with Kira Soltanovich, a lively, pretty woman who hails from Russia, yet has a clear understanding of American humor. She was so topical and took leads from the guests where she turned their situation around to be hysterically funny. She was so in tune with the audience, and they seemed to love her in return.

All in all, it was such a fun evening!


The Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA) just celebrated its 70th year in the community with a beautiful celebration held at the Langham Hotel in Pasadena.

The boutique and luncheon, themed “A Thankful Heart,” was the culmination of more than a year of special planning.

When you realize there are only 28 active members who put this incredible fundraising event together it is even more amazing.

Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital
Taking prominent roles in the Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital benefit were, from left, Delia Cotter, Patti Kriste, Kim Kessler, Sara Larson, Savonia Angelica and Bonnie McClure.
(Courtesy of Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital)

When the more than 300 guests arrived at this historic hotel they were ushered into the foyer and bedazzled by the opulence of the chic boutique presented by 24 vendors selling beautiful items ranging from fine jewelry and furs to handmade purses and tote bags in luxurious leathers and tapestry.


A unique vendor was the sandal maker who created footwear to order. Guests watched as two cobblers created their sandals. It was very interesting.

Two of the long-standing members of the Guild, Savonia Angelica and Linda Fults, greeted guests, who were offered a mimosa or orange juice to sustain them as they signed up for an array of fabulous silent auction items and shopped vendor stations.

When the luncheon bell sounded, guests were seated at beautifully dressed tables with lovely center pieces of autumn leaves, tiny pumpkins and a center candle encased in a lantern.

The main speaker for the day was Sara Larsen, whose daughter Paige was born with a genetic disorder that causes abnormal development of the skull. Sara told of Paige receiving miracle-like treatment at the Children’s Hospital. Her impassioned speech was very engaging. Today Paige is a happy, fifth-grade student at St. Bede School.

Angelica, one of the three chairs of the event said, “Preparing for this 70th anniversary has been a journey of love and dedication for all of our members.”

Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital
Past presidents honored at the Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital were, back row from left, Debbie Post, Susan Baribault, Juliet Cullen, Patti Kriste, Debbie Enterante, Maureen Railsback, Linda Fults, Carolyn Hanna, Barbara Schembari, Joellen Yundt, Sue Leisner, Judy Smith and Judy Stewart; front row, from left, Savonia Angelica, Judy Kelly, Delia Cotter and Charlotte Saydah.
(Courtesy of Flintridge Guild of Children’s Hospital)

Fults said, “It was such a pleasure to honor our past presidents because they have given so much to the guild, the community and Children’s Hospital.”

Chairing the event with Angelica were Delia Cotter and Patti Kriste. Kim Kessler, president of the Guild, was also there to welcome guests.

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