50th Founders Day Party at the Magic Castle. Part Two.

Steve ValentineWell the first rush of celebration for the Magic Castle’s 50th year is over. What a great party it was, but there will be lots more events and surprises throughout the year. However, the Founders Day party on January 2nd was a smash, the Castle looked great and was filled with many familiar faces for her party.

I arrived at 3:30 for the 4:30 official start of the event, and was very pleased to have made this decision; I understand that parking was tougher as the time went on. At 3:30 I just dropped my car of and went right into meet and greet mode with the stellar crowd who were already assembling around the front of the Castle. It was as prestigious bunch of folk as I have seen gathered there.

I took the opportunity to catch up with many old friends including Milt Larsen, Max, Jon & Jonathan Erika Larsen and Liberty Larsen, Mark and Nani Wilson, Max Maven, John Lovick, Shawn McMaster, Bob Zabrecky, Pam Thompson, Dale Hindman, Chuck and Jan Jones, Jonathon Pendragon, Jon Armstrong, Jack Goldfinger, and many more. I waved at Irene Larsen and Siegfried, but by the time they arrived the gathering was getting pretty big!

A special seating area had been constructed in front of the Castle and it looked very festive, decorated elaborately with an intriguing selection of balloons. A large representation of the LA press had gathered to cover the event, which began promptly at 4:30. Taking his place at the podium was Steve Valentine, who acted as Master of Ceremonies for the evening’s events, and did a superb job throughout the evening.

If one celebrity was invoked the most during the party, it was the late Cary Grant, and it was obvious what a spell he had cast on everyone who was lucky enough to meet him. Count me firmly amongst this group! However, my 25-year old daughter, Katrina, was pretty darn excited to be rubbing shoulders with Steve Valentine and Patrick Neil Harris. It was very nice that they added their multi-generational appeal to the proceedings. One of the key elements to the Castle’s success is its appeal to youthful visitors.

Siegfried, Milt and Irene Milt Larsen was introduced and spoke about the conception and early days of the Castle, before being awarded a plaque by LA City Councilman Tom LaBonge. The proclamation declared the day to be official designated “Academy of Magic Arts and Magic Castle Day.” Irene Larsen also made a very touching speech that reflected both her continued involvement in the Castle history and of course invoked the absent, but never forgotten, influence of the late Bill Larsen.

An unveiling of a wall plaque from the brotherhood of the Ancient and Honorable Order of E. Clampus Vitus followed. There were a couple more speeches and then the party moved inside. By this time the numbers had swelled considerably and I was glad to have had a chance to chat with so many of my friends before the official ‘kick of.’

There was a great assortment of complimentary food and drink available throughout the new wing of the Castle— or the ‘garage’ as some of us veteran members still like to jokingly refer to it. I particularly enjoyed the gigantic ice louge that had been constructed for the party and flowed with Patron tequila. All of the many guests present enjoyed the beautifully though out festivities and the chance to mingle.

I spent a very happy time catching up with members that I had missed outside, including Dante and Blaire Larsen, Norm and Lupe Nick and MiltNielsen, Steve Mitchell, Joe Monti, David Regal, Gay Blackstone, Whit and Nancy Haydn and James Dimmere. Other friends present that I wanted to chat with were Luna Shimada and Amazing Johnathon, but I will have to wait until my return to Las Vegas next month.

Sheer numbers kept me out of the Palace for the final presentations, but the spirit of the party was not in the awards or speeches. What was made palpable by the event was the camaraderie and sense of community that the Magic Castle has created in the magic world, a place to relax amongst like-minded friends and associates. The first 50 years have been a blast— here is an icy Patron tequila toast to the next!  Congratulations to everyone who made the event such a success.

~ by Nick Lewin on January 15, 2013.

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