Auctioneer Mark Drilling (left) with festival founders Myrna and Gary Condie. Photos: M. Buttelman
[KHTS] – Beautiful Christmas trees were auctioned off to raise funds for the Boys & Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley at the 11th annual Magic of the Lights Gala held Saturday night at Westfield Valencia Town Center.
The Gala earned more than $100,000 for the club.
However, the most popular auction item wasn’t a tree, but the Holiday Lights Tour on the KHTS Fire Truck which earned the club $4,400.
The spirited bidding war on the fire truck ride was won by Dr. Greggory and Dorothy DeVore.
“We have seven children and 14 grandchildren,” said DeVore. “We went on the fire truck ride last year and had so much fun my wife told me that we had to do it again this year, no matter what.”
The annual Gala attracted nearly 400 guests which featured entertainment by the Santa Clarita Christian Fellowship Choir and the College of the Canyons Performing Arts Department.
A cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception was followed by the live auction, headed up by auctioneer Mark Drilling, of Stokes Auction Group and assisted by Eric Ross.
The live auction, which featured trees paired with concert and sports tickets and other luxury items, earned the club more than $41,000.
Ronda Chobanian, development director of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV Foundation, said the event met the club’s goal of earning more than $100,000.
“We appreciate all the support we have received from our sponsors and volunteers,” she said. “Also, words cannot express how much it means for all of you, our guests, to be here tonight.”
Jim Ventress, chief professional officer of the Boys & Girls Club of SCV, said the Festival of Trees event is important to keeping the doors of the club open.
“We are so grateful to Westfield that we’ve been able to have the Festival in the same location for three years,” he said. “Tonight should fund more than 10 percent of our annual budget. We need to keep our two clubhouses operating and keep our hours the same. It is so important for working parents. We’ve had to make cutbacks on staffing and other operations, but not the hours.”
The Boys & Girls Club of SCV, founded in 1968, operates its Central Facility clubhouse in Newhall, built in 1992 and a $6.2 million, 27,000 sq. ft. clubhouse on the campus of Sierra Vista Junior High School in Canyon Country, built in 2003. The club serves nearly 2,500 youth, ages 7 to 17, in the SCV.
The Gala evening also included an opportunity for guests to fund trees for needy club families. Donations for club trees exceeded $30,000.
The showpiece “Delivering the Magic” Christmas tree sponsored by Six Flags Magic Mountain won the Grand Champion prize for most spectacular tree for the 11th consecutive year.
“We’re delighted to support the Boys & Girls Club,” said Bonnie Rabjohn, president of Six Flags Magic Mountain and Hurricane Harbor. “This is a tremendous event and this is a wonderful organization that we love to support.”
Among the original founders of Festival of Trees in the SCV was Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar, who said he was pleased to see how much community support the Festival receives.
“I look back over the years and see how this program has had such tremendous success here in the community and when you factor in how much benefit it gives to the Boys & Girls Club, this is a great success,” he said. “Look at all the people here tonight having a great time. It doesn’t get any better than this.”
Also attending the Gala were Festival founders Gary and Myrna Condie.
“The Festival gets better every year,” said Gary Condie. “It’s been financially very success and the Boys & Girls Club wouldn’t be the same without this extra money.”
The Gala emcee, Ed Masterson of SOS Entertainment, told guests that the Festival of Trees has raised more than $1 million to benefit the Boys & Girls Club of SCV.
Festival of Trees event chairs are Todd and Karen Stevens. The Festival executive committee includes Gary and Myrna Condie, Barbara C. Morris, Anna Ott, Jim Ventress and Ronda Chobanian. Committee chairs are Jill Abejon, Kristin, Draper, Sandy Fairbrother, Ruben Haynes, Brian Hoffman, Jaci Hoffman, Dena Horn, Brenda Kass, Karen Kibbee, Bryan Lake, Barbara E. Morris, Chuck Morris, Nancy Olmos, Jen Scott and Nicole Simon.
A final opportunity to bid on silent auction trees and gingerbread houses will be held today, Sunday, Nov. 24 at 5 p.m. during the closing of Festival of Trees.
The Festival opens today at noon and will close at 6 p.m.
Chobanian announced at the Gala that this would be the last year in The Patios location, as the space has been rented. The Festival will have to find a new home for the 2014 event.