Kiwanis Club of Burbank’s 2023 Annual Gala Brought Magic to the Houdini Estate

The Great Joedini. Photo by Edward Tovmassian

On March 25th, The Kiwanis Club of Burbank held the “Magic of Kiwanis” 2023 annual gala at the mystical and enchanting Houdini Estate in Los Angeles. Through tickets, donations, and auctions, the event took in over $97,000 which will be contributed to the Burbank Kiwanis Club Foundation for their philanthropic work in the community.

Hundreds of guests attended the event from local politicians and dignitaries like Senator Anthony Portantino, Assemblymember Laura Friedman, and Councilmember Nikki Perez, to city staff, organization leaders, business owners, community members, and more. “As the gala committee chair, I am truly overwhelmed by the support of our community. I want to thank everyone who contributed by attending, sponsoring, donating and bidding,” said Cari Pelayo.

The grand lawn of the Houdini Estate. Photo by Edward Tovmassian

The $15 million Houdini Estate holds a vast landscape of gardens, paths, waterfalls, and an Edwardian mansion where Harry Houdini was known to dazzle guests and escape daring feats up until his death in 1926. Some of his items are still on display that he used during his mystical and daring feats.

The grand lawn was lined with food and drink vendors passing out culinary delights and creative cocktails, and more bites could be found along the mosaic terrace and pool deck.  Food was provided by Cafe Eighteen48 and Bakery, Macheen, Gloria’s, Backyard BBQ, West Cali Wings, Enbela Ethiopian Cuisine, MoonGoat Coffee, Chili Joh’s, Loews Hollywood, and Nothing Bundt Cake.

Stringed lights zig-zagged across the grass, illuminating the grounds and giving the crisp night air a feeling of warmth and magic.  Magicians were located throughout the Houdini Estate property performing sets during the night.  “The magicians performing at our gala, did so in memory of my dear friend and fellow Magic Castle magician, Robert Guerra, who lost his battle with cancer, December 2021,” added Pelayo.  A photo booth was also set up on the grass where guests snapped pictures with fun props.

Attendees watch a magic performance in the Monkey Room with Cydney Kaplan. Photo by Edward Tovmassian

Auction baskets were on display near the house entrance and tours of the home were conducted through the evening where a Houdini Historian shared facts about the famed magician and the home’s interesting backstory.  Three $500 donors were chosen to stay overnight at the estate on the night of the gala which included a private room for two, a VIP house party, and a chef prepared breakfast in the morning. The winners included Patrick Kerney, Eric Ramos, and Mark Ouweleen.

The live auction took place on the grand lawn around 8:15pm where guests used paddles that were provided to them in a Kiwanis bag upon arrival. Auction items included a tour of Jay Leno’s garage, behind home plate tickets to the LA Dodgers vs. SF Giants game, a helicopter ride, a private wine class and more.

To date the event has taken in over $97,000 and the final contribution to the Burbank Kiwanis Club Foundation will be substantial. The club continues to support physical, moral, and financial projects and programs throughout the community by building up the leaders of tomorrow and teaching the city’s youth to be kind, giving, philanthropic, and productive citizens.

“I want to extend an extra special thank you to my dear friend, Mary Anne Been, whose incredible insight, creativity, and passion helped make the magic happen! Mary Anne was responsible for this year‘s gala booklet and website design and has been my rock since I asked her to help me put this gala together,” said Pelayo. “I want to thank our many volunteers who jumped in to help during the event, and all of the volunteers, who helped set up, teardown, check in, and clean up trash. Thank You to the National Charity League, to the Boy Scouts, to my fellow Kiwanians, as well as my friends and family who came as guests. It was all of you who helped ‘The Magic of Kiwanis’ shine!”

Check out our myBurbank video from the event here!

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