Saturday, August 15, 2009

Los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson

Birthday Dinner and Dance
August 15, 2009

Who said that Las Doñas don’t know how to party? They had a room full of people who wanted to party and celebrate Tucson’s 234th birthday. Rather than give a list of the “who’s who” who attended, let’s just say there were political representatives from the state, county and city. Not to be outdone, there were even a greater number of representatives from the community and local businesses. The ballroom was packed. The only place there were no guest tables was where there was the dance floor in the middle of the room in front of the stage. The Dinner Committee (Anna Harper, Donna Whitman, Frank Valenzuela and Richard Elias) deserve at least a week-long vacation because they did a fantastic job. Everyone who attended could not help but to enjoy the evening!

The Master of Ceremonies, cartoonist David Fitzsimmons, entertained us from the podium with his witty comments. They appeared to come naturally to him. After all, his cartoons are in syndication in over 700 newspapers in the United States and around the world.

The Posting of the Colors by the Honor Guard of Davis Monthan Air Force Base stirred emotions of discipline, respect, pride and more. Our heartfelt thanks go to all of the men and women in the armed forces.

Reverend Ronald Oakham O. Carm of St. Cyril of Alexandria Roman Catholic Church gave the Invocation.

If anyone came to the Gala hungry, there was plenty of food to fill them up with the dinner which was prepared by the chef at the Doubletree Hotel. The personal service given to our table was excellent. Looking around the room, I noticed that the green corn tamales did not have a chance to get cold on the tables. They served as our first course. While we munched on tamales, Richard Elias and Silviana Wood entertained us with a demonstration on how to make green corn tamales. If you are like me, it brought back fond memories.

We had the mixed green garden salad with a choice of ranch or raspberry vinaigrette dressings and we were not shy about finishing it all. For their entrée, many of the guests at my table enjoyed the top sirloin. I wavered between selecting the vegetarian or the chicken. I opted for the chicken but with a side of the gravy that was served with the sirloin-yummy. The rice was full of flavor and was accompanied by a nice sized helping of carrots. To top off the meal, there were dinner rolls and butter. Coffee and water flowed freely. For those so inclined, other beverages could be purchased at the bar.

During the entire meal, the centerpiece stared at us just as we stared at it. At each table there was a double layer birthday cake decorated with white frosting , pink and yellow piping and fresh strawberries between the layers. In place of the 234 birthday candles on top, there was the logo, “I’d rather be in Tucson! Especially in August 2009.” After all, we do get to celebrate Tucson’s birthday all month long. Each table also had a white chef’s hat on it. Before the end of the evening, David Fitzsimmons told us we did not need his permission to cut the cake. He did, however, suggest that each table select a person who would do the honors of cutting the cake. My table selected, Erica, the youngest person at our table. Someone said she should cut the cake because the rest of us needed to preserve our energy. In any case, it is customary that the younger ones serve the older ones. Well, in my family that is customary. She did a great job because my request for a big slice was granted.

Hector spoke from the stage and put into perspective the history of Los Descendientes del Presidio de Tucson for the guests so that we may fully appreciate Tucson and those who have made a difference in shaping Tucson. The soft spoken, yet powerful, Honorary Gal Chairman Chancellor Roy Flores of Pima Community College thanked everyone for the support of the Gala.

In addition to celebrating Tucson’s 234th birthday and welcoming the 2009 La Doña Laura (Lolly) T. Almquist, we were honoring Henry “Hank” Oyama. Both are outstanding community members who have given so much of their time and expertise to make Tucson the exceptional city it is. With her brief remarks, La Doña Lolly Almquist recognized the honor of being a La Doña with humbleness. She acknowledged with deference that in being the 2009 La Doña, she joins a list of highly respected women of Tucson.

Richard Elias had the honor of introducing the honoree of the evening, Mr. Hank Oyama. After reading Mr. Oyama’s brief but action-packed bio, Mr. Elias told us that he chose not to read the other two pages of well-deserved honors that have been bestowed on Mr. Oyama. Before beginning his speech, Mr. Oyama reached for his glasses and said that he needed them in order to read his 30 minute speech he had prepared. There was a nervous laugh from the audience. In accepting the Comandante Award, Mr. Oyama recognized many people who he felt deserved to be recognized as much as he was. He reminded us that the funds raised at the dinner were going to support Pima Community College's Desert Vista Campus. With the help of the Amigos de Pima Community College students would have scholarship so they could attend Pima Community College.

The guests did not immediately leave the ballroom. No, it was time to dance and dance we did! We rounded off the evening by dancing to the music of “Flipside”. Once the band began, the dance floor started to fill up with eager dancers. Great food, wonderful company, well-deserved honors, and song after song--we had to recognize that Las Doñas knew how to party.

As a guest of La Doña Anna Jolivet, I extend to her a humungous “THANK YOU”!!!


(See all of Tina's Gala photos HERE)

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