The Valley Line: Social scene picks up with season

The trappings of the joyous Christmas season are popping up all over our city. As if by magic colored lights have been appearing in gardens and tracing the roof lines of houses. My grandchildren, as all little children everywhere, are trying to be on their extra-special good behavior to ensure that Santa will visit their house.

I just flew back in town Monday after an extended stay for the Thanksgiving holiday. As our plane was landing I could see that busy elves had been decorating houses and businesses with bright lights — it looked so festive from many hundreds of feet in the air as we made our descent to the runway.

Celebrations, a hallmark of the season, are happening all over the greater Los Angeles basin. Read on and you will get an idea of what is going on in and around our fair city.

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The Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA) was honored at a cocktail party hosted by Lucrezia Buccellati at the elegant Beverly Hills Buccellati Salon. The reception, attended by some 50 guests, not only marked Buccellati's ongoing recognition of iconic international wildlife through art but also the Los Angeles Zoo and Botanical Gardens' highly-anticipated new Elephants of Asia exhibit opening later this month.

It was a lovely event and Lucrezia was a gracious hostess. She greeted guests as they sipped and tasted refreshments while admiring the beautiful jewelry and other Buccellati designs. Buccellati donated 20% of all sales at the reception and for two weeks afterward to the Greater Los Angeles Zoo Association (GLAZA).

Of course valley resident John Lewis, director of the Los Angeles Zoo, and Connie Morgan, also a LCF resident and GLAZA president, were in attendance at the party. They were eager to talk about the zoo's "Elephants of Asia," a state-of-the-art exhibit, which is among the largest of its kind in the United States. The $42 million, six acre habitat includes features dedicated to elephant health and welfare including bathing pools, sandy hills, varied topography, enrichment and facilities capable of caring for elephants of all ages. The opening of the elephant exhibit will be a wonderful Christmas gift to all of us living in the Los Angeles area.

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Everyone who can't resist the music of Randy Newman will find everything they love about his music at the Mark Taper Forum's new production of his music vividly recreated in the new production "Harps and Angels." Yes, even my anthem, "Short People" was in the lineup. The show that has been conceived by Jack Viertel and directed by Broadway veteran Jerry Zaks is totally engaging. The ensemble cast of Ryder Bach, Storm Large, Adriane Lenox, Michael McKean, Katey Sagal and Matthew Saldivar is outstanding.

The many faces Newman, a superb Oscar, Emmy and Grammy winning tune master, is revealed. At the end of Newman's song-stories you can't help loving him and his music — warts and all. Indeed, as Newman would say, "You've Got a Friend in Me."

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A dedicated crowd of early holiday shoppers showed up at the Hillsides campus for a "Fashionista Charity Boutique" presented by Rusnak Auto Group. The boutique raised more than $5,000 for Hillsides, a foster care charity that creates safe places for vulnerable children and families.

Liz Rusnak Arizmendi, vice president of public relations for the Rusnak Auto Group, coordinated the event where shoppers saved 30-70% on designer brands like St. John, Trina Turk, Le Chapeau by Alakazia and Edwards-Lowell Furs Beverly Hills.

"The Rusnak Auto Group has collaborated with children's charities in the community for over 40 years," said Rusnak-Arizmendi, vice president public relations Rusnak Auto Group. "For us, it's been a rewarding partnership with Hillsides and we continue to nurture this relationship as we create a unique and fashionable event to raise funds and awareness to this non-profit organization."

Founded in 1913, Hillsides serves more than 6,900 vulnerable children and families living in Los Angeles County, including San Gabriel Valley and Pasadena. Residential treatment for children, community-based family services and resources for families, special education, transitional living and housing, and advocacy are at the heart of the charity's mission.

"During the holidays, the challenges are many and the resources are limited. Rusnak Auto Group is a faithful donor that always rallies support for the children and youth we serve during the holiday season," said Joseph Costa, Hillsides chief executive officer. "We are grateful to them for helping us be a light for those we serve."

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