Holiday Roundup

It’s always a privilege to present a roundup of Topanga’s holiday celebrations leading up to Christmas. It is when Topanga’s light shines most brightly. Coverage was cut a bit short by early publishing deadlines so Snow Night, the Corazon festivities and music that followed, as well as New Year events will see the spirit of the season linger a bit longer in the January 10, 2020 edition of the Messenger Mountain News. Above, carolers provided holiday cheer at the annual Sages Holiday Dinner. Photo by Karen Dannenbaum

Sages Annual Holiday Dinner

On December 1, so soon after Thanksgiving, guests at the Topanga Community Center sat down to another hearty Turkey dinner with all the trimmings while being entertained by carolers, a reading by Linda Hinrichs from Through the Mickle Woods, and a raffle. Guests were also invited to take home leftovers. Photo by Karen Dannenbaum

The annual Holiday Dinner for Topanga’s Seniors was, as usual, a beautiful festive affair.

Lovingly led by Chef Lisa Villasenor, volunteers arrived early to get six turkeys in the oven, then joined Lisa and her family, along with Linda Hinrichs and Randy Just to decorate the hall, finish the preparations, and light the fire. While Kathy Shaw, Magritte Ray, Jean Mitchell and Sandy entertained us with their wonderful music, guests arrived to enjoy appetizers from Karla Morrison’s delicious and artistic spread. Dinner was served while the Girl Scouts sang Christmas Carols. Karen Dannenbaum conducted the raffle, which had many happy prize winners. Dessert was a true Topanga effort, with a request for a “pie potluck” amply provided by guests and volunteers. 

In a delightful holiday tradition, Hinrichs read a story from Through the Mickle Woods, by Valiska Gregory, illustrations by Barry Moser, a book for all ages that tells the story of a king and a boy named Michael who journey through the great woods to the cave of a bear who tells them three stories. The Horn Book review said “The language and phrasing are as pleasing to the ear as the story is to the heart.”

Many thanks to the Topanga Community Center for sponsoring this event, the Canyon SAGES, the Villasenor family, Linda Hinrichs and Randy Just. 

Karen Dannenbaum


The cast at the final rehearsal of Neil Bartlett’s adaptation of Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol presented by Topanga Actors Company as a staged reading on Sunday, December 14 and 15: Dylan Booth, Harry Hart-Browne, Jill Cervant, Stephen Hoye, Jessica Hendra, Allison Davies, Karl Gombos, and Linda Molnar. Photo by Bill Pierce

When Scrooge Came to Topanga

The Topanga Actors Company (TAC) closed its year with a staged reading of A Christmas Carol, adapted from Dickens’ own words by Neil Bartlett.

The intrepid Judith Hendra produced a real Christmas gift to the community with a cast of eight superb local actors, innovatively directed by Stephen Hoye, who also played Scrooge with world class skill and finesse.

The collaborative ensemble production had the actors playing multiple parts in multiple genders, switched parts on a dime, all at a fine pace that kept the audience enthralled. Kelly Whiteside, a talented, young sound designer, created sound effects from wind to bells that brought a welcome touch of sophistication to the show.

Stellar performances from Dylan Booth, Jill Cervant, Harry Hart-Browne, Jessica Hendra, Linda Molnar, singers Katharine Eames, Jeff Eames, and newcomer Karl Gombos as Tiny Tim (among other parts) illuminated the story with talent, energy, and brilliance.

Above all, the production brought forth the social messages Dickens was intent on giving when Allison Davies, as Marley’s ghost, delivered his regrets for what he should have done in life: “Charity was my business! Mankind was my business.”

The Topanga Library staff, Craig Fisher, and Library Manager Ashley Adams were the wind beneath the company’s wings,” according to TAC co-founder Paula LaBrot. The library is where you’ll find the generous spirit of the season year- round.

Stand by for TAC’s 2020 season opening  in March with Tennessee Williams’ A House Not Meant To Stand.

Merry Christmas and a Happy, Happy New Year and…, as Tiny Tim declared, “God bless us, everyone!”


The Chamber is always a lively bunch at their holiday parties. Above, (l. to r.) Dorothy Reik, Bill Buerge, Bruce Royer and Will Bowling show off their holiday red shoes. Photo by Richard Cassell

Topanga Chamber of Commerce Holiday Gathering

This year, on Lucky Friday the Thirteenth, the Topanga Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Holiday gathering at the beautiful 1909 venue. With an eye to celebrating our dynamic community and a nod to all that Topanga and the Santa Monica Mountains have endured this year, the party honored Fire Station 69. 

Thanks to the support of 1909 owner Amir Rofougaran, the evening of food, drink, and music cost just $15 without, and $5 with a potluck dish. As the evening began and guests arrived, delicious homemade specialties magically appeared for yet another incomparable Topanga potluck, including Julie Rosendo’s award-winning Organic Turkey Chili, Robin Fomalont’s Vegan Ziti, Tobi Kramer’s Garlic Chicken Wings, and an abundance of holiday desserts.  

Event chair Brooks Ellis manned the bar serving up wines graciously donated by the Topanga Canyon Bistro & Wine Bar, Rosenthal Winery, and The Reel Inn. The Chamber is grateful for their support and urges all Topangans to frequent these businesses throughout the year.  

While a playlist of holiday tunes and good ol’ rock ‘n’ roll kept partygoers singing and dancing throughout the evening. there was a pause in the festivities when Chamber president Ron Fomalont introduced Kriss Perras as the next president. She, in turn, presented Jim Allen of Best Electric, as next year’s Chamber secretary. 2020 Board members are community liaison Joseph Rosendo, treasurer Ron Kramer, and vice-president Roger Pugliese, who were also acknowledged.  

The next event on the Chamber’s menu of events, is the 71st annual Chamber Awards and Dinner in May. This Chamber tradition honors the Topanga Citizen, Business, and Non-Profit of the year. Great food and drink, camaraderie and congratulations abound, along with the chance to rub shoulders with our elected officials bestowing the awards.

Chamber membership has other privileges for promoting local businesses. Breakfast Mixers are held the second Wednesday of every month at the Inn of the Seventh Ray where members mingle, discuss community issues, and promote their businesses. Evening Mixers, held the last Thursday of each month, feature members who host the event at their location and give an in-depth view of their business.  

For the $125 yearly dues all members receive listings on the website,, in the Destination Topanga Guide and Map, as well as the exclusive opportunity to advertise their businesses in Chamber publications. 

For more membership information contact Ron at or Kriss at

-Kriss Parras


No Comments Yet

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.