On December 7th, the doors of the Los Angeles Firemen’s Relief Association offices were thrown open in order to host the annual Open House event. The beautiful holiday decorations added to the festive atmosphere as Relief members and their families gathered to enjoy food and fun. One of the most cheerful areas was registration, where conversation and laughter rang out as old friends were reunited before they even signed in and got their nametag.
This year’s Open House honored Lee Kebler, a retired LAFD Captain and director of the Los Angeles Retired Fire and Police Association. Kebler was clearly moved when presented with his plaque, calling LAFRA “a first-class organization that’s helped thousands and thousands of people.” There was a second presentation later in the day as the LAFD Fire Hogs arrived with a $5000 donation for the Widows, Orphans & Disabled Firemen’s Fund.
The food is always a big hit at Open House, and this year’s spread was no exception. With items including New York strip steak, gourmet mac & cheese, and crab cakes (just to name a few), executive chef Jason Sperber made sure there was something for everyone. The displays of delectable desserts were enough to make everyone find a little more room for a strudel, tiramisu and a tart or three.
LAFRA events coordinator Juliet Brandolino was excited to add some new elements to this year’s Open House. “This was a year of firsts. We had a photo booth owned and operated by firefighter Jerrod Webster and his wife Robin, a new strolling magician, the “Kid Zone” movie theater and the largest number of cadet volunteers ever.”
The magician, two-time Magic Castle award winner Joe Skilton, was quite popular with attendees, and delighted and mystified small groups with pencils through bills, moving coins and card tricks. The Kid Zone entertained children and adults alike with holiday fare such as Elf and Rise of the Guardians. The photo booth in the lobby was a bit hit, as friends gathered fun props and took photos together to commemorate the day.
This year’s Open House was truly a success. LAFRA president John Jacobsen stated “We are thankful that so many of our members were able to join us for some camaraderie and holiday spirit.” The attendees seemed to agree. As volunteer and widow Valerie Lawrence stated, “Like always, it’s a class act. Warm and friendly. It’s just good to see old friends.”
By Jody Houser
See more photos from this event! Click here.