The Valley Line

Our country just added another candle to its birthday cake. To celebrate the occasion, I went to a friend’s home that sits high on a hill with a spectacular view all the way to infinity.

We could see fireworks displays from the Rose Bowl and many surrounding cities. I think this year’s offerings of illuminations were quite spectacular. I guess when it comes to the thrill of a fireworks display I will never grow too old to enjoy the awe of it all.

You know how I love the history of our nation. I ran across some fun information about the Fourth of July celebration in early America. It seems that our ancestors loved to tip a cup or two of good cheer on this day.

The drink of choice was a very stiff eggnog, which they began quaffing shortly after sunrise. By noon many of the revelers were well into their cups, not to mention looking for a fight or falling down drunk. It was not at all unusual that the July 4 celebration lasted way into the fifth of July, or at least until they ran out of military heroes to toast. Of course by then, most everyone was toasted!

Before I tell you about a big benefit party. I just wanted to include a little story that was a “once-in-a-life-time thrill for 15 young choristers who are member of the Los Angeles Childrens Chorus.

During the opening week of the “Tonight Show” with new host Conan O’Brien, the kids were back-up singers with the multi-Grammy winner John Mayer and the John Mayer Trio when they performed the iconic Mama’s and Papa’s song, “California Dreamin’.”

It was a dream come true for these young singers to share a stage with John Mayer and to be on national television.

Los Angeles Childrens Chorus members singing with the John Mayer Trio included Ryan Schiller, Noah Sonderling, Ariana Aroustamian, Mata Barr, Robert Augustynski, Nicholas Bernal, Justus Bradshaw, Nathan Bernal, Nathan Cruz, Annela Flores, Leo Galvan, Caleb Glickman and Gianna Horak.

The chorus is under the direction of Artistic Director Anne Tomlinson. The chorus members are no strangers to the beam of a spotlight. In July 2008, the chorus, joined by the Stanford Symphony Orchestra, under the direction of Beijing native Jindong Cai, performed in a highly successful two-week tour to China titled, “A Musical Journey to the Olympics.” The choir previously toured Brazil, Great Britain, Italy, Australia, Germany, Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic and Poland as well as the United States and Canada. In all there are 290 choristers.

Congrats, LACC — I wouldn’t mind meeting Mayer myself, as I love his music, too.

As nearly 400 guests arrived at the One Colorado Courtyard for Five Acres’ ninth annual “Swinging on a Star,” event they were visually transported to the grand plaza of Marrakech, Morocco. The sights and sounds of this exotic country cast its intriguing spell as a little monkey peeked over the shoulder of his master to say hello and people gathered around a belly dancer as she sensuously interpreted the mysterious music of this arid country.

Guests gathered under colorful umbrellas to sip a Kir Royale, the signature aperitif of the evening. Shopping opportunities for many special items were just a few steps away at the silent auction tables. Just like down the narrow, twisting paths of the Medina in Fez, refreshment for busy shoppers could be found in a tea lounge where guests were served mint tea and rice pudding.

Colorful market umbrellas covered the dining tables that were centered with traditional Moroccan brass lanterns surrounded by tasty dates and grapes ready for the plucking. The distinctive cuisine of the region was provided by Sushi Roku, and Il Fornaio and Johnny Rockets served up delectable appetizers.

Antoinette Bunkley chaired the benefit that netted $180,000 to support Five Acres child and family care agency’s programs and services, and to honor Rob Floe of Pasadena for his exemplary service on behalf of the children and families.

The evening’s festivities were hosted by award-winning comedian, Ron Pearson, a La Cañada Flintridge resident. The guests enjoyed the sounds of Grammy Award winning Smooth Jazz Saxophonist Eric Marienthal along with two-time Grammy Award winning singer Rita Coolidge.

The title sponsor of the gala was the Planning Company Associates. Other major sponsors include event benefactor Floe Financial Partners of Pasadena and Emerald Underwriter PCV Murcor of Pomona. The event was hosted by One Colorado.

Five Acres was founded in 1888 as one of Los Angeles’ earliest orphanages and now provides therapeutic prevention, treatment and education programs to strengthen families and to prevent child abuse. It serves more than 5,000 children and families throughout the region annually.

JANE NAPIER NEELY has been covering the La Cañada Flintridge social scene for over 26 years. She can be reached at

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