Joy in Abundance at Councilmember Kennedy's Overflowing Holiday Gathering

Congressmember Judy Chu, Rose Parade Royal Court, Police Chief Perez, and Santa Claus meet the community at annual gathering

Published : Monday, December 9, 2019 | 6:51 AM

Joy and holiday spirit were in full abundance Sunday afternoon as Third District Councilmember John Kennedy held his annual community meeting and holiday party at the Pasadena Central Library. The library’s Donald C. Wright Auditorium was packed to overflowing with residents, community leaders and local luminaries.

The Blair High School Junior ROTC presented the nation’s colors, and the evening was on.

Kennedy was ebullient and jovial in greeting the happy and expectant crowd, and following a technical glitch with the audio system, happily welcomed all.

Mayor Terry Tornek, in his own official welcome, praised the City’s library system and staff. He noted that the City has ten branch libraries, which he called “stunning,” for a City of Pasadena’s size.

“It’s because the voters here have voted three times to tax themselves to provide additional funding for our libraries,” said Tornek. “Libraries are what make this a great city,” he added.

“Pasadena is doing very well,” said Tornek. “And people love this City, but it is not without its problems.”

Tornek noted that although Pasadena is booming, and people are “doing pretty well,” it is not shared equally across all the members of the community.”

‘We know we have work to do in terms of affordable housing, in terms of employment,” said Tornek. “We passed a higher minimum wage, but that’s not enough.”

Tornek told the group that he and the council are “working hard to try to make sure that everyone can share in the bounty of Pasadena.”

Tornek also acknowledged the 1100 community organizations currently working in Pasadena, and reminded the audience, especially in the holiday season, to “help a neighbor.”

Tornek was the first in a number of local leaders to address the crowd, and a series of faith leaders also bestowed their blessings on their event.

Residents heard prayers from Kennedy’s boyhood basketball teammate Reverend Jeffrey Streator, now pastoring in Georgia; words from Rabbi Keara Stein, a 12-year resident of the city, and a Buddhist chant from Cheng Da A Wang De Ji, and members of the International Buddism Sangha Association.

Residents also heard blessings and good wishes from Imam Ibraham Naeem, associate outreach director for the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community of Greater Los Angeles.

Pasadena’s Congressmember Judy Chu, also praised Kennedy’s work “for the people.” Chu pointed out that Kennedy helped lead funding efforts for the $20 million revitalization of the Jackie Robinson Center, and acknowledged the work being done in his district to create more new affordable housing units.

“I’m very proud to be his partner in this work,” said Chu.

Chu teased the audience about “what we will be doing in Washington D.C. this week,” but emphasized instead her “For the People” agenda, which she will be touting in Congress this week. The plan emphasizes, among other things, lower prescription drug costs and more affordable housing opportunities, she said. Chu also mentioned the Small Business Development Center at Pasadena City College, one of two in the San Gabriel Valley, which will help local residents start their own businesses by helping them create their own businesses, and more importantly obtain business capital.

Chu was followed by the 2020 Rose Queen Camille Kennedy, and her court, Princesses Rukan Saif, Mia Thorsen, Emilie Risha, Reese Rosental Saporito, Michael Wilkins, and Cole Fox.

The ladies glided across the stage in snappy black matching dresses with tan bomber jackets, as Kennedy, who the Councilmember jokingly called his “cousin,” said, “It’s a pleasure to be here tonight. We have a long schedule, and we’re really busy leading up to the Rose Parade, and it’s always a pleasure and a privilege to interact with members of the community.”

Queen Kennedy and her court posed for photos and autographs with partygoers, following the speeches.

Pasadena Police Chief John Perez drew applause when he mentioned in his brief address that crime numbers are dropping in the City, and that the police use of force incidents have dropped 40%, while certain specific uses of force have dropped as much as 80%.

Perez also noted that the Department has hired 39 new officers since last January.

Michelle Perera, director of library information of services, also welcomed the crowd to the City’s main library, and reassured the audience that the library would always be a “safe place for everyone. Everyone.”

Then, after reciting a litany of library services from traditional research to 3-D printing to sewing machines, to streaming music and movies, she told the audience that they could also take a ukelele class, and then rent a ukelele to take home that same day. It drew one of the largest rounds of applause of the evening.

Shortly thereafter, the crowd filed into the Great Hall of the Central Library, making their way through six food tables groaning with holiday bounty, along with two dessert tables, a jazz trio, and a DJ, along with an older gent named Santa Claus, and a court full of roses.

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