“Welcome aboard,” was the salutation that greeted Library faculty and staff at this year’s holiday gathering. After stopping at the door to get an official stamp on their invitations (a makeshift passport), party guests were invited into the Ferman Presentation Room which had been transformed by this year’s holiday party committee into the main dining hall on the S.S. Oviatt. The pleasure cruise atmosphere was reflected in the both the table décor and the entertainment. After a buffet style breakfast, the ship’s crew led the guests through a variety of games including bingo, blackjack, shuffleboard, and spin the helm.
According to the Oviatt Library Dean’s Assistant Mickey Martinez, themed holiday parties at the Library are a relatively new tradition. “We started the holiday themes in 2008 when one of our retirees asked that her retirement party be combined with our holiday party, and she requested a 50’s theme. This was the event that launched all future holiday parties,” says Martinez. Since then there have been a myriad of diverse themes, including: Hawaiian, New Year’s Eve, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Western, and Carnival. Martinez says that the western party was particularly memorable, with many of the guests decked out in their finest boots, belts, and cowboy hats. “I was also proud of the Hawaiian themed invitation, which was sent out on a CD which included island-inspired music as the pages of the invitation scrolled,” Martinez says.
Though the wacky themes may be a relatively new addition to the annual holiday celebration, there is another feature that has been part of the party as long as anyone can remember. Martinez, who has worked at the Library for 20 years, says that she has been a member or the head of the party planning committee for the past 19 years. “There has always been a charitable aspect to our event,” says Martinez, “We used to support the Los Angeles Police Department’s Police Activity League Supporters (PALS), which asked for toys.” After a few years of supporting this group specifically, Martinez realized that there are many groups asking for donations of one kind or another during this time of year.
“Before our first party planning meeting every year, I ask everyone to bring suggestions with information on various charities,” says Martinez. Most often, members of the committee have helped with a particular organization or know of one that needs help. After discussing the list of suggestions, the committee decides on a charity and requests that guests bring items to the party for donation. The Salvation Army, MENDS, Valley Food Bank, Jewish Senior Center, care packages for troops overseas, Nativity Catholic School (books for their library), Women’s Care Cottage, Hathaway-Sycamores Child and Family Services, Boys and Girls Club, and Children of the Night are some of the organizations that have been helped in years past.
This year the committee chose the Hope of the Valley Rescue Mission. The Mission, which is committed to meeting the ongoing needs of the homeless and hungry, requested that donations be made in the form of paper goods. So when the short breakfast cruise was over and the time came for passengers to disembark, there was a table at the back of the S.S. Oviatt’s Dining Hall piled high with paper plates, bowls, eating utensils, hot/cold cups and napkins. Additional funds that were donated will also be used to buy much needed paper goods for Hope of the Valley.
“I take great pride in these events,” says Martinez, “I always hope that everyone has a good time and enjoys good food.” Martinez would also like to say thank you to everyone who has contributed to these events over the years, and especially to anyone who has been on one of the holiday party committees. “I am grateful for their unwavering patience, time, and dedication.”