Winter 2017

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PATRONS | Winter 2017 15 PROGRESS NOTES C oaches often advise team members to keep a stiff upper lip. But for Greg Halvorsen, a former star quarterback at Rolling Hills High School, with a long history of coaching area kids in t-ball, lit- tle league and Pop Warner Football, among other sports—there's one topic for which he isn't sto- ic—Torrance Memorial Medical Center's annual Holiday Festival. Since 1997, the longtime owner of Redon- do Van & Storage and his team of movers have been assisting the hospital with its annual big top event. "I already have tears in my eyes," Halvorsen says, his voice a bit shaky but his insight steady. "It's the enjoyment of all the people. Everyone is taking time to give back and they don't get paid a dime. Everyone is volunteering because [the event] gets a big smile from the kids. at's the real joy." You don't have to be a kid to enjoy the annual festival, which enters its 34th year and features 36 custom-decorated holiday trees. Past tree themes that still have people talking include Harry Pot- ter, Dr. Seuss, Disney, Gone with the Wind and even Lladró. e often elegantly detailed and adorned trees are auctioned to raise money for hospital expansion or new construction. e trees can garner between $3,000 and $6,000 via silent and live auctions. A commemorative September 11th tree sold for a whopping $15,000. e 2016 festival raised more than $1.5 million through a combination of ticket and holiday boutique sales, auctions and an opportunity drawing. But the trees are just the beginning of Tor- rance Memorial's biggest annual fundraiser. e weeklong festival may center on the elaborately decorated and specially themed trees, but the kid in all of us will enjoy festivities that include face painting, crafts, clowns, as well as a fashion show and gala dinner. Plus, who can pass up lunch and a photo opportunity with Santa? ere's usually a nominal entrance fee and children 5 and under enter for free. ere are also days designated espe- cially for seniors and the disabled. Volunteers and auction participants include hospital doctors and staff, area corporations, busi- ness owners and philanthropists. "ere's nobody who's a bigger elf for the festi- val than Greg. is is the type of man who as soon as you say 'I need …' he's there," insists festival co-chair Carolyn Snyder. And there's likely not a better authority on the subject of true Holiday Festival "elfdom" than Sny- der, a West Virginia native who has been volunteer- ing just one year shy of the festival's inception. But the step-by-step involvement and atten- tion to detail required may actually qualify Hal- vorsen for the ultimate Christmas nom—that of Saint Nick. e majority of the 18,000 area residents and community members who enter the 30,000-square-foot white tent each year are likely unaware of the extent of Halvorsen's 20-year labor of love that takes place behind the scenes. at's where Halvorsen and his team work their magic. e festival switched to artificial trees many years ago for health and safety reasons, namely to avoid problems with allergies. Artificial trees are also easier to decorate and are more cost-effec- tive, as they can be recycled. But that hasn't light- ened the load for Halvorsen's elves. New trees are ordered every November for the following year and shipped directly to Halvorsen's facility. Once there, Halvorsen's team builds custom bases for the trees, so they can eventually be displayed in the big white tent. e Halvorsen elves also han- dle the moving of all the festival supplies to and from the hospital's warehouse. Following purchase of the silent and live auc- tion trees during the Holiday Festival, they are transported once again by Santa and his elves to the residences of the buyers. "Can you imagine trying to get 9-foot Christ- mas trees that are fragile and cost thousands of dollars through someone's front door, with the decorations attached?" ponders Halvorsen. He says it's a great honor to be involved with the annual event within a community he's enjoyed since his youth. He fondly recalls a childhood spent in the local hills of Palos Verdes Peninsu- la. Halvorsen's wife, Laurie Inadomi-Halvorsen, has a long-standing career in real estate. She is director of Commercial and Investment Prop- erties at Coldwell Banker Commercial NRT's Palos Verdes/Beach Cities office and also assists with the marketing of Redondo Van & Storage. While she leaves most of the heavy lifting related to the annual Holiday Festival to her husband and his expert elves, she makes it a point to always support and participate in the event as much as possible, including buying trees and tables at the fashion show and gala dinner. e couple is proud their volunteer work has positively influenced their two sons, Ryan, 24 and Brandon, 19—both of whom have volunteered and participated with them at the annual event over the years. Ryan decorated trees at the festival when he was president of Palos Verdes Peninsula 4-H Club and brought in additional club mem- bers to help. "It's so special to see so many different orga- nizations and also multiple generations within families from the community coming together to put the finishing touches on their trees the weekend before the festival opens to the public," Laurie says. "We're very proud to contribute to what's undeniably the South Bay's biggest holi- day tradition." Redondo Van & Storage transports all of the trees into the tent for display at Holiday Fes val. To see the full schedule of events for this year's Holiday Fes val, go to page 7.

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