Life and Arts

The Valley Line: More than 400 guests turn out for Hillsides ‘Roaring 2020s’ gala

Diane and Mark Hough, from left, Joan and John McCarthy, and Lee and Jill Harry attend the Hillsides gala.
(Jane Napier Neely)

When guests arrived at the Hillsides annual gala, this year themed “The Roaring 2020s,” they entered a time warp that transported them to the 1920s. Paparazzi in trench coats and fedoras holding flash-bulb cameras snapped photos of the guests before they entered the foyer of the Langham Huntington Hotel ballroom to sip signature cocktails and bid on silent auction items. At the end of the evening more than $500,000 had been raised to help the children and families served by Hillsides.

There were so many feathers worn in the ladies’ 1920s-style headbands and boas, all I can say is there must be a lot of bald birds in the vicinity of the hotel where the gala was held on Feb. 29.

Some of the men arrived at the gala in dapper felt hats, suspenders and spats.

“Cigarette girls” wearing beaded flapper dresses and turbans festooned with even more feathers, sold opportunities to buy keys that would later open three treasure chests of surprises.


Mark Martinez and Dee Fisher of La Cañada Flintridge enjoy the festivities at the Hillsides gala.
(Jane Napier Neely)

Stacey Hoppe, gala chair said, “Tonight, we leap back a century to celebrate an era remembered as the golden age of jazz music, film and technology. It was a time when flappers emerged against the backdrop of Art Deco design and economic prosperity. There was undeniable exhilaration and a spirit of optimism, which also exists today as we enter the 2020s.” Hoppe’s gala committee included La Cañadans Holly Breckheimer, Kelly Chamberlain and Joan McCarthy. Jesse Cripps, also an LCF resident, is president of the Hillsides board of directors.

La Cañada Flintridge residents Nitin and Tina Chawla, from left, and Sommer and Jesse Cripps pause for a photo with Joe Costa, chief executive of Hillsides.
(Courtesy of Hillsides)

Joe Costa, chief executive of Hillsides, stepped to the microphone to greet guests. Emcee for the evening was Fritz Coleman, NBC4 Southern California weatherman. Before he began the auction, Coleman showed off his skills as a stand-up comedian, keeping us laughing as he chatted about the weather and growing older.


Just some of the exciting packages up for auction included a weeklong stay in a celebrity-owned New York City apartment, the chance to attend Elton John’s Farewell Yellow Brick Road Tour in Chicago, and a five-night stay for two in London, England including excursions, meals and a $1,000 credit for airfare. There were many other fabulous items to bid on.

Ellyn and Richard Semler of La Cañada Flintridge attend the Hillsides gala.
(Courtesy of Hillsides)

The keynote speaker for the evening was Dian Armers, who attended Hillsides Education Center, a therapeutic, nonpublic school for children with social-emotional, learning or behavioral challenges, and graduated in December 2019. Armes, who attended the gala with her adoptive parents, Gary and Sally, said “Since attending Hillsides Education Center, I feel so free. I’ve become the person I was meant to be.”

La Cañadans Molly and Peter Breckheimer attend the Hillsides gala. Molly was on the gala committee.
(Courtesy of Hillsides)

It was a beautiful evening of socializing, dining and dancing, enjoyed by more than 400 people. Hillsides, with its affiliate Bienvenidos, is dedicated to healing children and young adults, strengthening families and transforming communities through quality comprehensive services and advocacy.