Its name conjures up questions, prompting some to wonder what’s an event with a name like that all about?
An annual ritual, those departing as president of the South Pasadena Rotary Club each year are recognized for their term in service with, oh, why not, a “Demotion Party.” Yes, that’s what they call it.
In the case of Dan Watson, the city’s former police chief, he was being honored last week for, not one, but two terms as Rotary’s top official, telling a crowd of about 50 in a garden-setting how much he enjoyed his time in office.
“It has really been a fun year,” said Watson, speaking to fellow Rotarians in the backyard of Carl and Elisabeth von Bibra’s attractive Craftsman-style home. “I think we accomplished a lot.”
While Rotary’s fiscal year-end party was marked by plenty of fun, its seriousness came to light when Watson talked about the club’s many accomplishments over the past 12 months.
Perhaps the biggest feat was planting 34 trees around town, mostly in parks and parkways.
Rotary, Watson pointed out, also issued grants to approximately 10 community organizations and supported the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee by purchasing tickets to a pair of fundraisers to support the city float – Crunch Time Party and its annual golf tournament.
When it comes to its own efforts in raising funds, Watson joked, “I still didn’t win” the chili cook-off, but praised the event for bringing dollars and attention to the organization.
He gave a giant shout out to Rotary’s signature event, “The Taste of South Pasadena,” which sold about 1,000 tickets and raised approximately $30,000 for the club. Twenty-eight area restaurants participated, providing guests with a sampling of menu items as participants walked throughout the city’s business district tasting a variety of delectable delights.
“It was a good year because of the hard work by a lot of people,” Watson said in his closing comments.
Charles Wiggington, the president and CEO of Priority One Credit Union, is the incoming Rotary president.
“It’s going to be fun,” said Wiggington, who presented Watson with a mounted gavel on a plaque. “Our citizens deserve clubs like Rotary that are in the community doing a lot of good work.”
During his one-year in office, his focus will be on building club membership and collaborating efforts with other organizations, including the city’s Kiwanis Club, in some joint efforts.
“We’re all going to be working together on some projects,” he said after the Demotion Party. “It’s in the best interest of the community that we do. South Pasadena is a wonderful community.”
The rivalry between Rotary and Kiwanis will continue, insists Wiggington, who likes to boast that the Rotarians own the golf title between the two organizations, but the Kiwanians are the better bowlers.
“We respect each other,” he said. “and both want to help continue to make South Pasadena a great place.”
After being introduced by Watson, Wiggington handed out pins to all Rotary members that read: “Be the Inspiration,” the club’s international theme. “We want our members to be the inspiration for the community, to get out there, have some fun and get a lot of things done,” he said.
A team of Hawaiian dancers entertained the group during the meeting before Rotary Past President Camille Levee encouraged those on hand to bid on a pair of shirts worn by South Pasadena Police Chief Art Miller and his wife, Linda, that were decorated with pictures in honor of Watson. They were the summertime version of the ugly sweater contest worn during the holiday season and went to the highest bidder for $150 after Watson raised it at one point quipping, “I’ll bid $110 because I don’t want them on the street,” a comment drawing a roar of laughter.
“Will anyone really bid on these things?” whispered the laughing police chief to no one in particular as he paraded through the tables showcasing his shirt featuring Watson’s face during the live auction. “This is fun.”
Indeed it was, as Rotary members enjoyed a full night of it on a memorable one filled with laughter in South Pasadena.