Special guests who enjoyed the Civitan Club's 43rd annual St. Patrick's Day gathering were Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy and Counclimembers Gary Bric, left, and Jess Talamantes. (Photo by David Laurell / March 16, 2014)

Members of the Burbank Civitan Club once again rolled out the green carpet to members, guests and local dignitaries as they staged their annual St. Patrick's Day Champagne Brunch at the Burbank Holiday Inn this past Sunday.

More than 150 Civitans, supporters and friends gathered for the 43rd time to honor the patron saint of Ireland, while also tipping their green derby hats to the organization’s 59th year of service to the community.

St. Patrick's Day has always had a special significance to Burbank Civitans because their charter was actually granted on March 17, 1955.

Since then, the group has provided both monetary and in-kind support for numerous organizations including BCR “A Place to Grow” (formerly Burbank Center for the Retarded) and the Burbank Park, Recreation and Community Services Department's annual Baseball Jamboree that stages an annual parade of decorated trucks and cars that carry hundreds of local players and Special Olympics participants through the streets of Burbank to Izay Park.

The club also works to raise funds to benefit the international organization of Civitan Clubs that support the Research Center for Mental Retardation in Birmingham, Ala.

The highlight of the afternoon — which has become a traditional part of this event — was a performance by the O'Connor School of Dance. Established in Waterford on the Emerald Isle, the O'Connor School of Dance came to the United States in 1960, and has been operating in the San Fernando Valley, under the direction of Bella O'Connor Yerina, since 1978.

Performing traditional dances of Feis (pronounced “Fesh”), which are a part of dance competitions that honor Celtic culture and pride, were local lasses and lads Cogan Porter, Kathleen Schwartz, Delaney Niehoff, Jenna McRae, Lauren Waldman, Margaux Shutt, Molly Waldman, Eryn Waldman, Amelia Meyer, Daryl Goldes, Emma Kelly, Elizabeth Makitalo, Megan McLaughlin, Sarah McGee, Rory Brennan and Aidan Niehoff.

Among those who enjoyed the corn beef-and-cabbage brunch, silent auction and entertainment were Mayor Emily Gabel-Luddy and Councilmen Jess Talamantes and Gary Bric, Civitan California District Lt. Gov. Randy Garcia, former California District Lt. Gov. Rob Bolster, Burbank Civitan President Gaye Guilmette and the event's committee members and volunteers that included Barry Kessler, Elaine Paonessa, Richard Bertain and Dee Dee Ruhlow.

Others who celebrated the wearin' o' the green were Sandy Dennis, Rick Johnson, Sue and Darren Borders, Bobbie Garcia and Joe and Janet Hooven.

The mission of the Civitan Club is to build good citizens dedicated to serving individual and community needs with an emphasis on helping people with developmental disabilities.

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DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.