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SCV Rotary fun at Bayou Luau

Fundraiser: Event will benefit SCV Rotary’s donation to 15 SCV nonprofits

Posted: May 19, 2010 9:45 p.m.
Updated: May 20, 2010 4:55 a.m.

The Rotary Club Past Presidents Polynesian Dancers headed by Jim Lentini. Joining him in their finest grass skirts and coconut brassieres were Doug Sutton, Mike Thomas, Gary Wurst, Jorgen Christensen and Bob Noville.

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Son of a gun, we’ll have some fun on the Bayou…

It was the perfect night for some good ole’ Zydeco and Cajun Blues music and dancing fueled by tropical drinks and steaming bowls of jambalaya at the second annual Rotary Luau Fundraiser at Rob and Jacquie Werner’s beautiful Sand Canyon estate.

Tiki torches lit up the lush yard, creating the romantic mood of the South Seas as 200 guests arrived to greetings of “Aloha” and “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”

Everyone donned flowered leis and colorful Mardi Gras beads for the tropical themed event sponsored by the Santa Clarita Valley Rotary Club.  

Attire was either luau or bayou but Hawaiian shirts and sarongs were de rigueur. Many women wore pretty flowers in their hair; the left ear indicates that one is taken or in a relationship and placing a flower over the right ear indicates that one is available.

Margaritas and daiquiris flowed freely and one could enjoy the intoxicating aroma of spicy Cajun food cooked up by the Elk’s Barbecue Committee.

Chuck Sturkey of LARC Ranch served as emcee and began the party with a lively set of his “gut bukit” Southern Blues accompanied by the “Rotary Zydeco Band.”

“Jim Lentini played ‘Lady of Spain’ on the accordion — if you felt the earth move while he played, it was probably Lawrence Welk rolling over in his grave,” said Chris Ball.  

Bayou Luau
Ball chaired the Luau with his usual panache and the organizing committee included Rotary President Mike Thomas, Jim Lentini, Connie Ragen Green, Doug Sutton, J.C. Burkhartsmeyer, Trish Grinnell and Bob Noville.

Guests included Rob Stern, Gail Ortiz and Stacy Miller and a contingent of five guests from Nepal. Also at the Luau were Rotary district Governor Jay Saltzman and his wife Ferne and incoming Rotary president Barry Gribbons from College of the Canyons.

At the end of the evening, Doug Sutton also offered a brief tribute to Roy Medow, a Rotary member who recently died.

Donation to Domestic Violence Center
The Luau is currently the largest fundraiser for the SCV Rotary Club. The Club regularly contributes to 15 nonprofits in the SCV, including the SCV Senior Center, SCV Child and Family Center, Single Mothers Outreach and the Domestic Violence Center of SCV.

During the evening, President Mike Thomas presented a giant check for $3,000 to Mary Rees, board president of the Domestic Violence Center.

“It was a very, very generous donation,” Rees said. “It comes at a time when we are looking for a new center, a new place to live after the state de-funded us — maybe we can find some stability and hopefully a little peace.”

Many Rotarians felt it was the right donation at the right time.

“We knew we were going to present the check to the Domestic Violence Center tonight,” said Rotarian Steve Sturgeon. “It is important to the SCV and the community at large, so at this time, they rose to the top.”

Jambalaya and sweet potato pie
Naturally, a Bayou Luau needs great food. The Elk’s Barbecue committee headed by Mike Fisher commanded the patio kitchen while cooking huge pots of pork-chicken jambalaya, filet gumbo, black-eyed peas, rotisserie pork and fresh Louisiana crawfish.

“J.C. Burkhartsmeyer put his veterinary skills to work on a 150-pound rotisserie pig,” Ball said. “But when he found it could not be resuscitated, it was served on the buffet line.”

Guests eagerly lined up for the desserts prepared by Gracie Elliot, including sorbet with a touch of rum, sweet potato pie, Southern bread pudding, cherry cheesecake and chocolate butterscotch cake.

Romantic silent auction
Guests were only too happy to offer up stacks of doubloons for the silent auction items that included “A Taste of SCV” gift certificates, a Bling Bling Icicle pendant donated by Jack Bairian, owner of Jewelry World, and a makeover package from Todd’s Hair Salon. Rotarian Jeff Willis donated a wellness package from his Advanced Health Chiropractic and Wellness Center.

Other items included a basket of wine donated by Wine Tasting and All Corked Up and a gorgeous Beijo designer bag and handcrafted jewelry donated by Marie Cruz.

Let the good times roll

The live auction headed by Jim Lentini included spirited bidding on golf packages and a romantic getaway trip to a Maui condo worth $5,600.

Rotarians Dr. David Goldberg and Dr. Anthony Cha donated $1,100 worth of dentistry and $5,000 worth of children’s braces, respectively.

Jewelry included a BenBridge mariner link bracelet, valued at $550; a gift certificate for $750 of studio photography by Yoti and an original photo painting, “Green Umbrella,” by Ferne Saltzman.

TimBen Boydston was thrilled to win a 100 percent organic hemp REMO EcoDrum with a Monet-like hand-painted design. “My daughter will love this,” he said.

Pauline and Duane Harte were first-time Rotary Luau guests and really enjoyed the food. “This is really fun,” Pauline Harte said. “We are having a great time.”

Ed Bolden, Jr. of Rotary International was also waiting to see if his name came up on the prize lottery. He has been a Rotary member for 45 years.

“I joined Rotary when I was 5-years-old,” he laughed.

Past President’s Hula
The highlight of the evening was a special, one time only performance by the Rotary Club Past Presidents Polynesian Dancers headed by Jim Lentini. Joining him in their finest grass skirts and coconut brassieres were Doug Sutton, Mike Thomas, Gary Wurst, Jorgen Christensen and Bob Noville

“We have to sew two grass skirts together to fit some of our dancers,” Ragen Green said.

After dinner and hula dancing, the Crawdaddies Blues Band turned up the heat with some lively Louisiana Swamp Pop, Southern Blues and “N’awlin’s Jazz.

About SCV Rotary

As a part of the Rotary International, the SCV chapter was founded in 1960 and unites business owners in the common goal of service.

The SCV Rotary Club is dedicated to providing humanitarian service toward local community needs as well as international concerns on worldwide levels such as education, health and hunger.

“(SCV) Rotary will celebrate its 50th anniversary this year” Ragen Green said. “We are off to a great start, with an international project planned to bring clean water to an orphanage in Nairobi, Kenya, as well as a local project to support our returning wounded veterans.

“This evening has been very successful,” Jim Lentini said. “Everyone had a good time and all the money goes to a great cause.”

For information about SCV Rotary Club’s programs and ways to donate visit


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