On the Town: Las Candelas ladies lovingly create splendored benefit

It was an afternoon of tributes and gorgeous fashions when Las Candelas members presented their 64th anniversary benefit fashion show, luncheon and boutique at the Los Angeles Marriott Burbank Airport Academy Ballroom.

President Ellyn Semler welcomed the 640 in attendance and thanked benefit co-chairs JC Byer and Pattie McCormick and their committees for coordinating the biennial fundraiser that carried the 1950s-film theme "Love is a Many Splendored Thing." The dramatic centerpieces incorporated film reels mixed with burgundy roses.

Diane Johnson was recognized for celebrating her 50 years of service with the women's philanthropic group.

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A memorial tribute was paid to dedicated member Karen Whyte, who passed away in July 2016. Whyte was true to the mission of Las Candelas, which is to provide volunteer service and financial assistance to help improve the lives of children and youth in vulnerable situations and to support awareness of their mental-health needs.

Proceeds go to programs the members provide for Hillsides Education Center & Youth Moving On in Pasadena; Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services in Altadena, Didi Hirsch of Glendale for its early child development and teen self-esteem workshops, Ascencia of Glendale's homeless services and Glendale YWCA's domestic violence program.

Whyte had been especially devoted to the emotional needs of the children at Hillsides Education Center. She worked tirelessly to provide assemblies and activities that nurtured the students' minds and sparked their love of learning, Semler said.

"She threw herself into making this event perfect," Semler said. "This was her favorite thing to do. She was often here until the wee hours making sure the lighting worked without any hitches. She would remind us that we only had one shot at this every two years and whatever we raised had to fund our programs for the children for the next two years."

Whyte was famous for her timelines that accounted for every minute of the event and, even though members grumbled, the timelines kept them on track, Semler added.

Semler introduced Whyte's husband, Page, and other family members attending — daughters, Tracy Shaw and Erin Caplin, mother, Betty Densmore, and sister, Chris Roberts.

Las Candelas member Debbie Hinckley presented the family with a Lladro porcelain angel titled "The Dreamer."

"Karen loved Las Candelas," Page Whyte said. "These are our best friends. Being back here reminds me of many great memories."

An inspiring innovation was given by Patrick Liddell, who also conducted the special prize drawings.

Each luncheon course offered a nod to the past. Reminiscent of the 1950s favorite grilled cheese sandwich and tomato soup, the kitchen prepared melted cheese batons and roasted tomato bisque. The main course featured the Brown Derby's 1960s California cobb salad. Dessert was a 1940s "Ice Box Parfait," with layered brownie chips, fudge pudding, creme chantilly and Oreo crumbles.

The real dessert, however, was the fashion show of scrumptious gowns and evening dresses by designer Lourdes Chavez, coordinated by Carin Holmenas. There were several surprises. One model paired a little black evening dress with a live prop — a black standard poodle on a leash.

Looking dapper in a black tuxedo actor/model Gregory Zarian, the son of former Glendale mayor the late Larry Zarian, escorted models down the runway, but not without a little levity.

And co-chair Byer's granddaughter Claire Corpuz performed a modern ballet sequence that elegantly culminated the afternoon.


JOYCE RUDOLPH can be reached at rudolphjoyce10@gmail.com.

Copyright © 2017, Glendale News-Press

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