South Pasadena Mayor Marina Khubesrian serves a full-course meal to some of the gathered seniors for the Senior Center’s annual holiday lunch at the War Memorial Building. Photo by Henk Friezer

Nearly 200 appreciative seniors attended the holiday luncheon put on by the South Pasadena Senior Center on Thursday of last week at the War Memorial Building.

The luncheon, funded in large measure by the South Pasadena Police Officers’ Association for about $750, is oftentimes the only Christmas event for many of these seniors. The donation also covers the entertainment by the Sunset Singers.

Liliana Torres, the community services supervisor for the South Pasadena Senior Center, explained the importance of the lunch as well as the holiday spirit it imbues.

“It is one of our favorite events, obviously, by the turnout,” Torres said, while she was overseeing the lunch on Thursday. “The seniors always express their appreciation because for a lot of them this is their only Christmas event they will have and it feels like family for them. That’s why we go out of our way to make it extra special for all the seniors here.” 

The Senior Center, 1102 Oxley St., provided shuttles to and from the center to the War Memorial Building above the freeway on Fair Oaks Avenue.

“Parking is limited so we provided the shuttle service for all those that attended,” Torres said. “We have them check in at the Senior Center and then we have a shuttle every 30 minutes.”

There were 182 seniors on hand for the lunch and they were being served their meal by local dignitaries, police officers and Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger of the Fifth Supervisorial District, which encompasses South Pasadena.

“I am here because this is the best part of my job,” Barger said while she was serving lunches to the seniors. “I would do this every year. I would like to thank the seniors. My mom and dad are gone and when I look at them I really do see my mom and dad. I know how much they have given to the community over the years. It’s really just giving back to them because I want them to have a happy holiday, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and we embrace them.”

Barger also said that the seniors in South Pasadena are vital to the community every day, not just Christmas.

“I think we get so caught up on the day of Christmas that Christmas really should be a year-round thing,” Barger said. “And we should be giving back to our seniors on a day-to-day basis and so what I would say is today is a holiday but each and every day we do embrace them. This might be their Christmas meal, I hope they will find a sense of community whereever they are and celebrate it.” 

The seniors partaking in the meal couldn’t agree more.

“This is wonderful,” said 78-year-old Bill Hilliard. “I love the comradery, the family feeling. It really is special. They’re always very accommodating here at the center. I love it. And the food is excellent.”

Christina Gallegos concurred and she said she has been to many holiday lunches for seniors and this one in South Pasadena is the best by far.

“It’s just marvelous,” she said. “We really enjoy these lunches here. I think South Pasadena is so extremely generous to their citizens. I’ve never encountered this in any other city. We’ve been to the Arcadia Community Center. We’ve been to Alhambra and to Pasadena and most of their events are $10. This one is totally free. What a true blessing.”

“I am here because this is the best part of my job,” Barger said while she was serving lunches to the seniors. “I would do this every year. I would to thank the seniors. My mom and dad are gone and when I look at them I really do see my mom and dad. I know how much they have given to the community over the years. It’s really just giving back to them because I want them to have a happy holiday, merry Christmas, happy Hanukkah and we embrace them.”

Barger also said that the seniors in South Pasadena are vital to the community every day, not just Christmas.

“I think we get so caught up on the day of Christmas that Christmas really should be a year-round thing,” Barger said. “And we should be giving back to our seniors on a day-to-day basis and so what I would say is today is a holiday but each and every day we do embrace them. This might be their Christmas meal, I hope they will find a sense of community whereever they are and celebrate it.” 

The seniors partaking in the meal couldn’t agree more.

“This is wonderful,” said 78-year-old Bill Hilliard. “I love the comradery, the family feeling. It really is special. They’re always very accommodating here at the center. I love it. And the food is excellent.”

Christina Gallegos concurred and she said she has been to many holiday lunches for seniors and this one in South Pasadena is the best by far.

“It’s just marvelous,” she said. “We really enjoy these lunches here. I think South Pasadena is so extremely generous to their citizens. I’ve never encountered this in any other city. We’ve been to the Arcadia Community Center. We’ve been to Alhambra and to Pasadena and most of their events are $10. This one is totally free. What a true blessing.”

Steve Whitmore
Author

Steve Whitmore is the editor for the South Pasadena Review. Steve has spent more than four decades as an award-winning print and broadcast journalist with a 16-year stint as the senior media advisor for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. Steve comes to us from the Keene Sentinel in Keene, New Hampshire, where he covered politics and was a columnist.

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