By Michael YEGHIAYAN
A sold out crowd filled the Glendale Centre Theatre on Sunday for a night of comedy in support of the Glendale/La Crescenta chapter of the American Red Cross. The 21st annual event brought world-class comedic talent to Glendale that traded laughs for financial support of the local disaster relief organization.
Fritz Coleman, the evening’s host and NBC’s Los Angeles weathercaster, helped develop the event in the wake of the College Hills fire in the summer of 1990. As a Glendale resident, he worked with then-mayor Larry Zarian to create an event to raise money for the local Red Cross, which was struggling to raise enough money to properly service the needs of the community.
“In the news business, every day we see disasters break out locally, nationally, and internationally,” said Coleman. “We really get to see the value of the Red Cross. They are the definition of the ‘first responder.’”
“During the recent crisis at LAX, the Red Cross was first on the scene and they were there for all of the stranded passengers, as they always are,” he continued. “It is very easy to be involved with such a great organization. I see more than most how important the Red Cross is when disaster strikes and I know what a well-oiled machine they are.”
The flagship service to the community by the Red Cross is centered on local disaster relief services. The Red Cross provides trained volunteers, professional staff, disaster related equipment, and is designed to respond to an emergency in Glendale or the surrounding area 24 hours a day.
“Fritz and the Glendale Centre Theatre work together to give us this ideal event,” said Ron Farina, executive director of the Glendale/La Crescenta chapter of the American Red Cross. “He wanted to do something to help, and worked hard to get the original event started.”
Coleman is no stranger to the world of stand-up comedy, and was discovered for his current weathercasting position while performing a set at Sunset Boulevard’s iconic Comedy Store. He showed Sunday’s crowd that his comedy skills had not deteriorated, opening the evening with jokes about fatherhood and aging that had the audience in stitches.
The evening featured three renowned comedians and entertainers: Quinn Dahle, Bobby Collins and Ron Pearson. The three men kept the crowd of nearly 400 laughing through the night, which ended in an incredible finale by Pearson that involved a unicycle, three juggling pins, a few uncomfortable audience members, and a spectacular showing of balance.
Funds raised on Sunday supplement and expand the capabilities of the local Red Cross that in addition to disaster services provide various training courses that include onsite first aid and CPR training for organizations and businesses as well as nurse assistant training for individuals looking to break into the medical field.
“[For] people that are looking for a step up, perhaps want to start earning more money, the certification program is very helpful,” said Farina. “They can find work in a convalescent home as a nurse’s assistant and begin a career.”
For more information about the Glendale/La Crescenta chapter of the Red Cross, visit www.redcross.org/ca/glendale.