By Jose Herrera
Signal Staff Writer
Under bright lights and a warm atmosphere of community, residents joined the Boys and Girls Club of Santa Clarita Valley for a night of festivity to kick off a weekend of holiday cheer.
The organization welcomed the SCV community for its Magic of the Lights Gala on Friday at the old Saddle Ranch at Westfield Valencia Town Center. The gala was sold out immediately and attendees enjoyed gourmet food, entertainment and an opportunity to bid on Christmas trees that included unique gifts.
“We are so excited to be holding our first in-person fundraiser since early last year,” Gloria Mercado-Fortine, board president of the organization, said in a prepared statement. “We will be following COVID protocols, but it’s great to have Festival of Trees back live and in person. It is our premier holiday event benefiting the Boys and Girls Club.”
The gala begins a weekend of events including the Boys and Girls Club Festival of Trees and the city of Santa Clarita’s Light Up Main Street tonight at 6 p.m. in Newhall.
SCV residents who are interested in seeing the Boys and Girls Club’s Festival of trees can stop by the old Saddle Ranch and view Christmas trees and gingerbread houses on Saturday and Sunday.
There will be live, local entertainment throughout the weekend. There is also a silent auction that is open to the general public.
Bids can be made online so people can watch their potential items from home, and the final bidding will close on Tuesday at 5 p.m.
Andy and Laura Gallardo, Festival of Trees chairpersons, said they were excited to host the gala and the Festival of Trees in person this year.
“We have lots of wonderful trees and it’s going to an amazing cause,” Andy said. “There’s wonderful, beautifully decorated trees all throughout the event that people can bid on them. There’s also smaller trees, gingerbread houses and other activities that we’ll continue on throughout the weekend.”
The money raised from the gala and the festival will benefit the children of the Boys and Girls Club, according to Mercado-Fortine.
“Our goal tonight is to raise $150,000 and we’re really confident we are going to make that because we’ve raised more in the past,” said Matthew Nelson, CEO of the organization.
Nelson added the funds support the club’s after-school programs, memberships for children in need – though they do their best to never turn kids away — and homework help and snacks to nurture children to become leaders in their communities.
Mercado-Fortine said the Boys and Girls Club welcomes all children in the club, but there is a conscious effort to support children and families in need.
“We do have a big focus on the underserved,” Mercado-Fortine said. “It’s a safe place for them to be, you know, until their parents get home. And also, especially those children that don’t have a place to go and who don’t have the support systems that maybe other kids have.”