Life and Arts

The Valley Line: YMCA of the Foothills, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy enjoy great turnouts for their respective May events

The lovely Greenridge area home of Sandy and Mike Kobeissi was graciously opened last Saturday evening to host the YMCA of the Foothills’ 60th anniversary celebration gala.

SoCal’s seasonal “May gray” prevailed for the entire day, and it didn’t lift for the party. But instead of putting a damper on the festivities, the low clouds that threaded through the surrounding hills lent an ethereal patina over the party.

Tyler Wright, president and chief executive of the Y, greeted more than 250 guests as they arrived to pay homage to the many years that the YMCA has served our community.

“The YMCA of the Foothills is a charity that cares deeply about saving and changing lives and reaching out to the most fragile of families,” Wright said. “This gala celebrated 60 years of service to the community with new and longtime friends.”


Planning the festivities with the Kobeissi family were Carrie Hester, Joanne Pingry and Megan Oppelt. Serving as emcee was local resident and comedienne Ron Pearson.

Helping out in so many ways to make it a welcoming gathering were YMCA staff members Rosa Torres, Gabby Naiera, Darrylynn Kaun and Barbara Gierde.

State Sen. Anthony Portantino stepped to the microphone to praise the YMCA and its service to the community.

Other dignitaries attending the party included Teresa Lamb, representing Rep. Adam Schiff, and Blake Dellinger was there to represent Assemblywoman Laura Friedman. LCF City Councilman Jon Curtis was also in attendance.


YMCA board members there to celebrate this momentous occasion were Gary Awad, Brian Daniels, Jeanne Hobson, Robert Holman, David Kim, Alex Leu, Kay Linden, Warren Lukesh, Kristin McQueen, Teresa Magula, Dianne Martin, Pat Mulcahy, Laura Olhasso, Daniel Prince, Peter Rowan, Jack Schaedel, Shawn White and Scott Young.

No one went hungry as hearty hors d’oeuvres were served including beef wellingtons with caramelized mushrooms, tomato bisque cups with rosemary grilled cheese bites, smoked salmon, and half pear bruschetta crostini with whipped mascarpone with bitter greens. Dessert included “death by chocolate” bars and custard cups with berries.


It was the grandest Cinco de Mayo party that Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy has ever seen when more than 300 guests made their way to the “Fiesta on the Hill.”

Greeting the festively dressed guests were Sister Carolyn McCormack, president of the Catholic girls school and Sister Celeste Botello, principal. Also saying hello to guests at the entrance was Brigitta Carlson, the school’s special events manager.

Many of the female guests wore Frida Khalo-inspired headdresses of flowers, beautifully embroidered skirts, dresses and blouses.

Melina Pyle and Karen Peterson chaired the gala that raised over $200,000 for school renovations.

The Mexican cuisine began with passed hors d’oeuvres and buffet tables where guacamole, spicy salsa and chips, quesadillas and other foods were served.


Menu choices for the sit-down dinner included beef with a mole sauce or chili relleno served with refried beans and rice. Flan, the traditional dessert of Mexico, enhanced with a caramel sauce, was served at the end of the meal.

The dining tables, set up in an outdoor clear-sided tent, overlooked the lights of Pasadena. They were cleverly decorated with woven serapes and centered with wildflowers and tiny tins of succulents and cacti.

An outstanding band, the Mariachi Divas, provided the entertainment for the evening.

Truly spicing up the evening was an enthusiastic live auction where guests were vying with each other for the highest final bid.

Another high point of the evening was the selling of opportunity prize tickets. The winner of the 54 card jewelry and vintage fur coat raffle was Megan Liebelt. Another happy winner of the “Heads and Tails” game was Ron Gerhardt.

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