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Magic of the Lights Gala kicks off holiday season

Festival of Trees benefits SCV Boys & Girls Club

Posted: November 22, 2008 7:48 p.m.
Updated: November 23, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Bill and Cathy Kennedy enjoy one of the beautifully decorated trees at the sixth annual Festival of the Trees held to benefit the SCV Boys & Girls Club.

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Didn't it look a lot like Christmas at the Magic of the Lights Gala held at the Hyatt Valencia? The festively attire crowd of more than 300 raised nearly $60,000 during the live auction to benefit the Santa Clarita Valley Boys & Girls Club during the sixth annual Festival of the Trees gala. The gala was held after the public display closed for the evening.

Guests roamed the hallways and meeting rooms adjacent to the Grand Ballroom as they admired 7- to 9-foot decorated trees, gingerbread houses, wreaths and small tabletop trees.

The live auction featured two dozen Christmas trees with themes as sweet as "Whimsical Christmas," as Western as "Canyon Country Cowgirl," as holiday as "Christmas Fantasy" and as unique as "Navajo Navidad."

An elaborately decorated table - "A Hannukah Celebration" - was also offered in the live auction.

The centerpiece "tree" was the "Magic Candy Cottage" designed and sponsored by "Six Flags Friends."

Donna Bendell designed her sixth annual display for Magic Mountain which included a wooden playhouse (with Santa inside) and lots of goodies - among them: a 9-foot decorated tree, a VIP tour of Magic Mountain for 10, Bugs Bunny party for 10, four Magic Mountain/Hurricane Harbor combo passes and a remote control vehicle.

Bendell said her inspiration was "Christmas cookies and gingerbread houses." The packaged fetched the highest auction bid, $4,000, from an anonymous bider.

Jay Thomas, Six Flags Magic Mountain president, said he was excited about the tree and "cottage."

"Donna worked very hard on the entry and did a phenomenal job for us," he said. "How could you not enjoy supporting the SCV Boys & Girls Club? This is kind of the kick-off for the holidays and what better event can you come to one that allows you to see all these beautiful trees?"

U.S. Congressman Howard "Buck" McKeon, a big supporter of the SCV Boys & Girls Club, arrived home in the SCV from Washington D.C. to attend the gala.

"It's a great event, and it is wonderful to see the fantastic turnout and the support for the Boys & Girls Club," he said. "That's what Christmas is, the spirit of giving - and that's a great thing. And the trees are beautiful."

In addition to purchasing a beautifully decorated tree, many of the tree-buyers also took home extra "goodies."

The "Pilates Teck Cranes for Hope" tree included three private Pilates sessions, six group classes on equipment, four Pilates mat classes, a spongy exercise ball and a copy of "OsteoPilates."

The "Follow the Star with Gifts of Gold" tree included six silver chargers with dessert plates, Christmas plates, candles, gifts, original art and a nativity scene.

The "Enchanted Kids" tree included puzzles, books, clothes, shoes, plush toys, dolls, puppets and various children's accessories.

The "A Multitude of Angels" tree included a large floor angel, six silver chargers with dessert plates, crystal dishes, candles, original artwork and a gift box.

"I am extremely excited about tonight," said Jim Ventress, chief professional officer of the SCV Boys & Girls Club. "I think of all the volunteers who've spent all those hours putting together wreaths, gingerbread houses and everything else and to see it all come together tonight with these beautiful trees is wonderful."

Santa Clarita Mayor Bob Kellar, on the founding committee of Festival of Trees, called the event one of the "hallmark events" of the SCV.

"I'm delighted to see such an incredible turnout for this event - and the trees are magnificent," he said.

"I'm glad everyone could come and enjoy themselves and support the Boys & Girls Club."

Chris Schauble served as master of ceremonies and Mark Drilling of Stokes Auction Group served as auctioneer.

"My husband and I love being here to support the Boys & Girls Club," said Katrina Schauble. "The trees are so beautiful, so it's a win-win situation. You get to give to charity and take home something beautiful - and help someone else. It's all for a good cause."

Entertainment was provided by Caesar and his jazz quartet, who performed a few standards and well-known holiday songs.

Among those who sponsored trees were The Signal, Myrna and Gary Condie, Leabele and Wayne McLeod, The Tree Toppers, Enchanted Kids Cottage, Marian and Richard Sandnes, Camelot Moving and Storage, Becky Novy, KHTS AM 1220, HackerBraly, LLP, Jacqulyn and W. Harold Petersen, Six Flags Friends, Pilates Teck Inc., "Friend of the Boys & Girls Club," Pardee Homes, Beverly's, Bellasport/Uomo Sport, Providence Holy Cross and Magazine of Santa Clarita.

Tree designers included The Tree Toppers, Beverly's, Nina Del Valle of Superior Designs and Torey Jegel of TJ Interiors, Pilates Teck Inc., Kiki Hacker, Ruben Haynes of Ruben Haynes Designs, Enchanted Kids Cottage and Leabele McLeod and Laralea McLaughlin.

Jeri and Carl Goldman served as event co-chairs with Marian and Richard Sandnes, IHOP of Saugus and Canyon Country and Jacqulyn and W. Harold Petersen as presenting sponsors.

The Santa Clarita Boys & Girls Club offers educational and recreational programs to more than 3,500 children ages 7-18 in the Santa Clarita Valley. The club has clubhouses in the SCV, Newhall and Canyon Country and a satellite facility in Val Verde.

For information about the club or to make a donation visit www.scvboysandgirlsclub.org, www.scvkids.org or call (661) 254-2582.

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