Hitting the century mark

While La Cañada Flintridge will turn a modest 36 this year, two pillars of the community are celebrating far more impressive birthday anniversaries.

The La Cañada Flintridge Chamber of Commerce and the La Cañada Thursday Club both celebrate their centennials in 2012. The chamber’s kick-off celebration is Jan. 19, while the Thursday Club’s big event will be held in October.

Chamber President Pat Anderson said that the organization would extend the celebration throughout the year.

“Everything we do will have a centennial spin to it,” she said. “The mixers will take on a little different flavor and the Fiesta Days pole banners will look different [and] be up a lot longer.”

Both institutions date to roughly the time when La Cañadans were beginning to build a community around ranching, thanks to the arrival of electricity and paved roads, in 1910 and 1913, respectively.

Anderson said that while the chamber appreciates its historical roots, it has changed its mission over the years from consumer watchdog to more of a business advocate.

“Organizations need to grow and change and that’s what we’ve done,” she said. “We’ve evolved over our 100 years so we’re now a viable activist for businesses, as well as a watchdog for residents.”

Mayor David Spence said the chamber plays a valuable role in the life of the city.

“It’s sort of a symbiotic relationship between the city and the businesses in the community and the chamber,” he said. “In the last 10 years or so it’s been a very positive relationship, and the chamber has been very effective in bringing businesses to the community.”

While the chamber has changed to match the times, the La Cañada Thursday Club is proud to maintain its original spirit — and clubhouse — even if some changes have been made, said President Judy Cooper.

The club, a social and philanthropic organization known for its debutante program, is going strong with 220 active members.

Cooper attributed the club’s strength, in a time when many women’s clubs are losing steam or have died off, to the spirit of its founders.

“Our women started before it was even common for this type of club [to exist] … women didn’t even vote then,” she said. “The women who started the club had a really independent mindset and that mindset has been a part of the club’s emotional makeup.”

While it remains a private club, Cooper said that by starting to host public events three years ago, the Thursday Club has maintained a connection to the community as a whole.

“While we have traditions and rules and whatnot, we change ours if we need to; we try to stay current as much as we can, and as a result, we’ve had a resurgence that many women’s clubs haven’t,” she said.

Cooper said the club is completing an expansion of its clubhouse on Woodleigh Lane, with a new garden and fountain, in time for the official October anniversary celebration.

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