Big Sunday; ‘Sisters;’ drums and beer on St. Patrick’s Day

| March 28, 2024 | 0 Comments

Hundreds of supporters gathered in Candela La Brea’s giant ballroom on March 14 to support Big Sunday, one of the country’s top organizations for connecting people to volunteer opportunities. The ninth annual gala proudly celebrated 25 years of building communities, improving lives and giving people a sense of purpose. Honored at this year’s event were Adam Greenfield, Cathy Weiss, Robert Brown and The Change Reaction, a giving platform that “provides vital financial assistance to tens of thousands of working Angelenos who struggle with urgent needs and hardships.” 

HUNDREDS of supporters enjoy the 9th annual Big Sunday Gala, celebrating 25 years.

Marta Kauffman of “Friends” fame spoke of her favorite annual pastime: taking people horseback riding who may have never had the opportunity. Founder and Executive Director David Levinson spoke appreciatively of the 36 sponsors of the evening, the in-person attendees and the thousands upon thousands of volunteers within the community. Board members Ina Coleman and Howie Mandel made the much-anticipated announcement that Big Sunday has finally found a permanent home. Their old space on Melrose was recently torn down, and their new headquarters is just up the street in Hollywood, just steps away from the world famous Musso & Frank Grill. The new location includes a small campus, green space, room for a working kitchen, exhibit and performance space, a workshop area, parking (!!) and much more. Moving date is scheduled for April 1.

BIG SUNDAY board member Ina Coleman (right) with friend and 10-year volunteer Pam Daves.

Guests enjoyed grilled vegetables, fingerling potatoes, port wine braised beef short ribs, hot smoked plank salmon and an array of yummy desserts.

Founded in 1999 with 300 volunteers at a single day of service, the organization now organizes more than 2,000 ways for people to volunteer every year, boasting over 1.75 million volunteer man-hours.

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LARCHMONT CHARTER MOMS enjoy food, wine and excellent conversation at the annual Sisters of the Grape fundraiser.

The annual Larchmont Charter School (LCS) “Sisters of the Grape” wine-and appetizer-tasting fundraiser March 16 brought in more moms, more food and more wine in its second-year return from the COVID-19 shutdown. Longwood Highlands LCS mom, chef and television personality Daphne Brogdon threw open her doors to welcome the hungry group, along with co-hosts Julie Johnson, Kim Huffman Cary, Lisa O’Malley and Monica Gamboa. Guests enjoyed homemade ricotta dip, spring salad, burrata and tomatoes and pizza — with small bite-sized Italian wafer cookies for dessert. Last year featured Alsatian wine pairings. This year, there were three Italian wines from differing regions of Italy: Contadi Castaladi (northern Italy), La Spinetta (Tuscany) and Allegrini Valpolicella (north of Verona). New Larchmont moms bonded with many of the OG Larchmont moms and, by the end of the party, there were several new book clubs born out of the evening. Many attendees were already asking, “What will next year’s wine selection reveal?” Locals in attendance included Rebecca Hutchinson, DJ Kami, Irene Guez, Devon Dionne, Janneke Straub, Lindsey Rosenthal and Dragana Popovic.

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BOOMSHAKA drummers perform in the McKenna backyard in Windsor Square.

What’s a Boomshaka? Lots of Windsor Boulevard and Plymouth Boulevard neighbors learned the answer to that question at a block party organized at their home by Aline and Will McKenna on the afternoon of St. Patrick’s Day, Sunday, March 17. Although there was a keg of green beer and a hot pretzel cart, the real feature was the backyard performance of two-dozen Northwestern University students visiting from Chicago. These members of that school’s premier drum, dance and rhythm ensemble — Boomshaka — were present in Los Angeles for the group’s annual “tour week,” giving high-energy performances at schools, community centers and elsewhere, including Windsor Square!

DRUMMER Leo McKenna, third from left, has performed with the Northwestern troupe for three years.

A three-year member of the troupe is Leo McKenna, now a junior at Northwestern’s Weinberg College of Arts & Sciences. Long a drummer in middle and high school here in Los Angeles, McKenna also is the drummer in a four-man band, Sapphire Man, at Northwestern.

ENERGETIC DANCE is part of Boomshaka performances.

Immediate neighbors enjoying the performance included Val Ulene and David Skaggs, Bernie Cummings and Ernie Johnson, Carol and Luis Fondevila, Martha and John Welborne, Stan DeBreu, and John and Kay Park, plus a flock of friends and families from Leo’s and his brother Charlie’s schools, plus Boomshaka alumni living in Southern California. Hero points were earned by Aline and Will for being hosts to Leo — plus the other 22 members of the group — for a full week. “Lots of futons and air mattresses were borrowed from friends,” reported Aline. Learn more at:

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A QUEUE FOR THE PUB on St. Patrick’s Day 2024.

Meanwhile, on that St. Patrick’s Day Sunday, there was a good chance you had to wait in line for over an hour to get past the bouncers if you already weren’t in the Tom Bergin’s tented parking lot by noon. St. Patrick’s Day is the historic venue’s biggest day of the year and, by the looks of the crowd size, this year did not disappoint. Some attendees began their day at the famous Fairfax Avenue watering hole at 6 a.m., starting the celebration with a traditional Irish breakfast. Others showed up at a more leisurely hour, taking advantage of the three outdoor bars, the sunshine, the music and the picnic-style tables on the lot.

Everything was green: from the revelers’ clothing, to the wigs, to the buyable T-shirts and hats and, of course, the beer. When asked how the green beer was produced, a dutiful bartender replied, “The leprechauns came in last night and worked their magic!” If green beer wasn’t your fancy, you could opt for a Guinness on tap or anything from the Bergin’s bar, including a traditional Irish Coffee. (After all, Tom Bergin’s has advertised itself as the “House of Irish Coffee” since 1936.) Celebrants danced the day away to the mix of a local DJ and a live bagpiper who wandered the crowds bringing music and plenty of Irish authenticity. When I finally exited the scene at 10 p.m. there were no signs of the party winding down.

LOCAL REVELERS on St. Patrick’s Day include, from left, Lesley Holmes, Ivan Garel-Jones, Laura Siegel, Bob Wenoker, Pete Sepenuk, Abby Werman and friend, Sam Roseme, Catherine Mann, Gus Sepenuk, Lily Roseme and Hana Bradshaw.

Until next year… “May your luck be like the capital of Ireland…  always Dublin!”

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THOMAS J. BLUMENTHAL at the 2024 Cardinal’s Award Dinner with Archbishop José H. Gomez.

We also have learned that one of the honorees at the 2024 Cardinal’s Award Dinner (“An Evening of Grace and Gratitude”) at the Beverly Hilton back on February 24 was Thomas J. Blumenthal, whose family members have been Hancock Park stalwarts forever. Catholic Archbishop José H. Gomez presented the award to Blumenthal in the festive setting of the International Ballroom, also home to the Golden Globes, the Las Madrinas Debutante Ball and the annual (since 1905) Bachelors Ball.

Blumenthal, a former member of The Bachelors, also is a board member at each St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo and Santa Clara University’s Jesuit School of Theology. Further, he is chair of the board at Mount Saint Mary’s University in Los Angeles and has been for the past five years. Blumenthal manages to fit all of this volunteer service into a life that includes being the president and CEO of Gearys, the fabulous emporium that has been a Beverly Hills fixture since 1930.

And now you’re in the Larchmont know!

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Category: People

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