It’s great to see Fritz Coleman all year round, but seeing him at Christmas events around town has always made the holidays extra special for me. Over the past years it’s been a joy in to see him highlight the festive spirit with his annual “Fritz’ Holiday Lights” segments on his nightly NBC4 weather reports. And he always launched the Yuletide season when he lit up the Toluca Lake Christmas tree for the neighborhood’s Merchants Holiday Open House.
It’s also become a new tradition for Fritz Coleman, the funny and good-natured honorary Mayor of Toluca Lake, to emcee the Toluca Guild of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles’ Christmas luncheon. Held at Lakeside Golf Club the annual fundraising event is also a card party and fashion boutique put together by the wonderful Toluca Guild volunteers. They are headed by president Nancy Hinderer and vice president Paula Carpenter, who was head chair of the event that Fritz called “beyond spectacular.”
A leader in pediatric and adolescent care, Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles has been treating seriously ill children for more than a century. Celeste Rodocchia with CHLA praised the Guild members saying “you are the past, the present, and our future.”
Speaking of the future, there was a little girl with a big voice who performed for everyone. Ani Hesse said she was there “because of Children’s Hospital. They took good care of me when I needed operations and now I am living my dream.” It was appropriate that Ani sang the pop song “Titanium,” because the petite 14-year-old has a titanium rod in her back to correct a spine condition. She also sang “Heaven Is a Place on Earth,” which took on a special meaning after we heard about her Children’s Hospital experience, which came on the heels of her advancing in the auditions for The X-Factor.
The lovely luncheon also featured a light opera performance presented by tenor Maximo Marcuso. Known as the “Latin Sensation,” Maximo looks remarkably like a young Mario Lanza, especially when he launches into the “Nessun Dorma—no one sleeps.” A gifted showman and a true entertainer, Maximo had the ladies swooning as he shared his vocal gifts for the classics as well as contemporary music. Another highlight was when he sang with Ani Hesse, everyone got goose-bumps at the blending of Maximo’s powerful voice with the sweetness of Ani.
On hand for the special occasion were Richard Shilling and Jim Barrett, at a couple of tables of the wonderful Ramsey-Shilling and Associates folks supporting the Toluca Guild of CHLA. Also among those attending were Grace Patz (who turns 100 on Christmas Day!), Kathleen Marsden, Marion O’Mara, Terry Campbell, Maureen Walsh, and so many other devoted volunteers for countless organizations, I wish I could name them all. Our community should be grateful for all their dedication and hard work helping others. They embody the true spirit of the holidays.
Another holiday tradition is the annual Hollywood Christmas Parade Benefiting Marine Toys for Tots Foundation. On the streets of Hollywood a star-studded pre-show starts at 5 p.m., followed by the parade commencing at 6 p.m.
The Grand Marshal of the parade is an American hero, astronaut Buzz Aldrin, the second man to walk on the moon, and a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom. He is the man whose name and persona became the inspiration for the iconic character of Buzz Lightyear in the Toy Story films. And that’s not his only Hollywood connection. Aldrin has four moon shaped Special Awards of Excellence along with other Apollo 11 astronauts located on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Aldrin said, “I am extremely honored to serve as Grand Marshal of the 82nd Hollywood Christmas Parade Benefiting the Marine Toys for Tots Foundation, a treasured American tradition for all of us who are young at heart. Come celebrate the holidays with me on the festive streets of Hollywood on December 1st as we moonwalk down the parade route together!”