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Life and Arts

The Valley Line: Tournament toasts ‘Tree Frog Night,’ YMCA honors supporters

The first half of November has been a busy-bee social time for La Cañada Flintridge residents. First up on the social calendar was the La Cañada Flintridge Tournament of Roses Assn.’s annual Wine and Roses party, this year themed “An Evening on the Bayou.”

The event was held Nov. 4 at the La Cañada Flintridge Country Club and was very well-attended.

The evening was chaired by Nancy Wolhaupter and her husband John. All proceeds from the event were dedicated to the design, construction and decoration of our city’s self-built float, which this year is titled “Tree Frog Night.”

This outing, held at the clubhouse with its spectacular views, began just as the sun was setting in a glorious display of all shades of pink. A special addition to the evening was the appearance of the 2019 Pasadena Tournament of Roses Queen and her court.


Two of the court princesses attend school right here in La Cañada: Helen Susan Rossi, who attends Flintridge Prep, and Rucha Kadam, a student at La Cañada High School. Princess Helen’s parents, Susan and Phil, were also at the event.

The court was escorted into the dining room by float association members. Michael Davitt, LCFTRA president and city councilman escorted 2019 Rose Queen Louise Dreser Siskel, who attends Sequoyah High School. Other escorts were Bill Pounders with Helen Rossi, Jeff Helgager with Rucha Kada; Charles Thuss with Sherry Ma, Mike Leininger with Micaela McElrath; Woody Walker with Lauren Baydaline and Chuck Terhune with Ashley Hackett.

Each of the court members gave an introductory greeting and told what being on the court meant to them. Without exception, these accomplished young women spoke about how important it is for women to have a public voice. They are looking forward to New Year’s Day when their float rolls down Colorado Boulevard. The parade theme this year is “The Melody of Life.”

Emcee for the evening was Lisa Donahey, who also was auctioneer for the live auction portion of the evening. Up for bids were goodies such as opportunities for a Jimmy Kimmel Live taping, a Wonderful World of Disney package, dinner for six “Under the Bridge” at the president’s table, a Big Bear family weekend, a night of tacos and tunes by Misplaced Priorities and Los Gringos for 30 people, a John’s Famous Low Country Seafood Boil for 10 people in Nancy and John’s Wolhaupters’ backyard, and an amazing one night getaway at For Friends Inn in Santa Ynez, with a friendship pass for wine tasting at over 45 wineries.


The evening was lovely. We are all looking forward to seeing our “Tree Frog Night” float on New Year’s Day. Of course community members will be watching the float decoration “Under the Bridge” (at Hampton Road and Foothill Boulevard) come December as it is readied for the grand parade.


The La Cañada Flintridge Country Club was also the setting on Nov. 7 for the YMCA of the Foothills’ George Williams Society Dinner.

After the social hour when guests gathered for chatting and sharing Y stories, all were welcomed into the dining room by Brian Daniels, chair of the board of directors of the YMCA of the Foothills.

The Rev. Chuck Osborn, associate pastor of the La Cañada Presbyterian Church, gave the invocation.

Daniels once again stepped to the microphone to give a short history of the founding of the YMCA that began in London, England in 1844 by George Williams. Our own YMCA of the Foothills honors its George Williams Society members every five years at this special dinner. It was said that the power of our own great YMCA lies in each member of this special group for giving significantly of their time, talent and treasure to strengthen the foundations of the community.

Tyler Wright, president and chief executive of our Y, also stepped to the microphone to welcome guests and honorees. Also speaking that night were Laura Olhasso, the Capital Campaign Chair, and guest speaker Denis Croxen, who served as president/chief executive of the Crescenta-Cañada Y from 1984 to 2001. He went on to work for the National YMCA staff in Chicago. He is now retired and he and his wife, Peggy, live in Colorado. Peggy was the first recipient of the local Y’s Pat Aho award for her volunteer time.

“Dennis Croxen’s two decades of leadership as the CEO/president of the Crescenta-Cañada Family YMCA has meant so much to our Y. His vision for the future and his commitment to serve the youth, teens and families of our community is apparent in the growth of our organization over the past 60 years,” said Vince Luculano, chief operating officer for the Y.


Among those people receiving lovely etched glass awards along with the Croxens were Julie and Brian Daniels, Laura and Bill Olhasso, Sue and Barry Shanley, Chuck and Kathryn Terhune, Nick and Judi Doom, Debbie and Hank Hall, Tom Heller and Michele Ashamalla, Sam and Darla Longo, Jim and Nancy DuBois, Sandy and Fred Engler, Georgia Harrison, Reid and Joyce Samuelson, Chris and Lena Waldheim, Colin and Candice Tom, and Dr. Greg and Cynthia Yu.

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