PARTI GRAS 2019 | SPEF Delivers Another Fantastic Event
South Pasadena’s party of the year at Arroyo Seco Golf Course brought guests back to the the best of the 1970's. The 40th anniversary 'Parti Gras' fundraiser included a massive silent and live auction, food and drink from local restaurants and dancing to ’70s hits long into the night
That’s always the underlying theme amid the revelry and excitement each spring surrounding the SPEF Parti Gras, South Pasadena’s biggest bash of the year.
The latest chapter last Saturday night at Arroyo Seco Golf Course had an extra amount of pomp and circumstance as the host, the South Pasadena Educational Foundation, popped the cork on its 40th birthday in town.
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Big hair and bellbottoms were in vogue on this night as many brought back the 1970s in a tribute to when it all began for SPEF – 1979, thus the “Studio ‘79” theme for the event featuring excellent food from area restaurants, silent and live auctions, and dancing – yes, including plenty of disco – for those “Staying Alive” long into the night enjoying Bee Gees’ sounds and more.
Jon Primuth, a local school board member, likes the idea that the annual spring event is a collaborative effort among major forces.
“It’s a joyous celebration of our school community,” he said. “The city donates the space, and our amazing SPEF board members create the event, bringing in restaurants, decor, musicians and the auctions. I really enjoy hanging out with friends and meeting new people. It’s just an exhilarating experience, one of the highlights of my year.”
Once the sun went down and the live auction – some of which featured The Who tickets at the Hollywood Bowl, a Top Gun fighter pilot experience, a chance to see Jennifer Lopez perform at the Forum and a Disneyland package for 12 – ended, DJ Richard Blade kicked the party up a notch, started spinning tunes in high gear, while bringing the large crowd onto the dance floor with ‘70s hit after hit, coupled with a mix of contemporary sounds.
Organizers are still tabulating the proceeds from Saturday’s event, a giant revenue stream for its beneficiary – the South Pasadena Unified School District. They hope to top last year’s figure of roughly $160,000.
“Parti Gras is a great opportunity to see friends and neighbors in a relaxed, yet celebratory, environment,” explained Andrea Fox, the career internship specialist for the South Pasadena Unified School District. “My husband and I love to walk around, sample from the local restaurants and catch up with people. The fun themes and great music lend themselves to a lively party – one where the whole community comes together to support our outstanding school district. We’re certainly lucky to live in a community that cares so deeply for its schools, faculty and staff. It’s definitely something that makes South Pasadena a special place.”
The event couldn’t happen without the support of 20-plus eateries providing food for the masses, including: Cos & Pi, Lost Parrot Cafe, Pisces Poke, Urban Kitchen, ARO Latin, Beyond the Olive, Bristol Farms, Cafe X2O, Canoe House, Communal, El Cholo, Genovese’s Kitchen, Gus’s, Heirloom, Huntington Catering, Jersey Mike’s, Kon Tiki, Mamma’s Brick Oven, Menchie’s, Mike & Anne’s, Nothing Bundt Cakes, Patakan, Radhika, and Twohey’s.
“There are certain events that bring the greater South Pasadena community together, and Parti Gras is on the top of the list,” said South Pasadena High School Principal Janet Anderson. “With this being the 40th anniversary of SPEF, the night is even more special. Before I started coming as a guest, I volunteered as a bartender at Parti Gras. It is really fun to see how, like SPEF itself, Parti Gras has grown and become THE go-to activity for all who so generously support SPUSD and who love to have a good time reveling together! Happy anniversary to SPEF, and hail to all who have made the Foundation thrive for our schools!”
Julian Petrillo, who has watched his children enjoy a solid education in the South Pasadena Unified School District, added: “Aside from being a massively successful fundraiser for a cause we all care deeply about, Parti Gras is a chance for parents to let their hair down for a night and really enjoy a brilliantly-run party. Every parent who attends that event knows that by around 11p.m., friends whose Facebook photos seldom depict much besides smiling children and well-groomed pets will be out on the dance floor, grooving and grinding, and showing a side of themselves that last reared its head at their college parties back in the 90s. The theme – whatever it is – always lends itself to costume creativity, and we all enjoy where that takes us as well. A great party for a great cause, Parti Gras is also just the throwback we all look forward to every time we sniff the end of the school year on the calendar.”
Like others, Grace Kung, president of South Pasadena Council PTA calls Parti Gras the ultimate party of the year in the city. “No other event in brings together parents of all ages, teachers, school staff, community members, businesses, and even high school volunteers for the common interest of supporting our schools.”
Earlier this month, South Pasadena Council PTA proudly honored SPEF for its 40th anniversary with the top Distinguished Volunteer Service Award. Some of SPEF’s past presidents were honored at the event.
Important to SPEF are those who have guided the organization over the years as president, including: Lori Dillman, Megan Dostal, Michele Downing, Kristi Drinkwater, Rick Freeman, Julie Giulioni, Stephanie Glazier, Rosie Greenwood, Harcourt Hervey, Boyd Hudson, Ruby Kalra, Paul LaCombe, Diane Lasell, Merna Leisure, Sheryl MacPhee, Jerry Markle, Scott Moe, Jon Primuth, Bob Proctor, Peter Radsch, Jo Saeta, Leslie Saeta, Lawrence Sin, David Sorensen, Mark Priver, and Doug Yokomizo.
In an informal survey taken Saturday, it was easy to see why so many enjoy a night out on the town – Parti Gras style – year after year. Word got out quickly that guests were having a “groovy” time, enjoying the “good vibes” and “rad” experience.
“My husband Alex and I enjoy every aspect of Parti Gras from bidding on silent and live auctions, tasting delicious offerings from local restaurants, and dancing the night away,” said Kung. “My favorite tradition is the ‘Put a Ring on It’ raffle.” I still have a collection of past rings as fond mementos.”
For a $100 donation, guests can purchase a ring and a chance to win any of the live auction items if their name is called before the bidding for the big items begins.
“We look forward to meeting new acquaintances and reconnecting with friends, all creatively dressed in the theme,” noted Kung. “Parti Gras is the most fun FUNdraiser in our community with the added bonus that it’s all for the kids!”
Primuth may have summed up another successful outing for SPEF, adding: “Everyone works hard all year at the extremely serious work of education – and what better way to celebrate than with a party.”
Make that a tubular party, in ‘70s vernacular – or simply awesome.
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A Very Large Thank you to all the donors and contributors to the SPEF Parti Gras 2019