In July of 2000, Cathedral celebrated 75 years of excellence in education by hosting an event like no other in its history. Many of its alumni members from several decades would gather on the school’s football field for its 75th anniversary gala. Never had there been such an event where Phantoms from many eras would all be on the campus at one time sharing laughs, memories, and great stories from their CHS days. Due to its positive reviews and outstanding turnout, two members of the school’s alumni association, Alumni President Hector Roman ’76 , and current Treasurer Joe Mazadiego ’66 along with fellow alumni Willie Marin ’67 would form what would be the first annual “Return to Cathedral Alumni Gala”. The three felt it was obvious that this alumni gathering should be a yearly event and not just some special event held every 10 to 25 years.
During the next fourteen years, no two galas would be the same. We would see “themed” galas such as a “Hollywood” theme and a “New York” theme, we would recognize those classes with the biggest turnouts, with those classes being as far back as the 60s (1965, 1967, and 1968) to those classes being as recent as the 90s (1991 and 1999), and we would even hold our popular event on the grounds of two of LA County’s most famous venues, Dodger Stadium and the Rose Bowl. After a 7-year absence, the gala would finally make its return to the school’s beautiful campus on Bishops Road in 2015. As a result of these galas, the Alumni Association would raise more than 6 figures, most of which has gone on to Scholarships for the many students who come from the same neighborhoods we came from (or still currently live in). Our committee has gone from 3 individuals to a team of a dozen or so graduates representing the 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s.
For the second year in a row, there would be not one, but two “Return to Cathedral” gala events, in back to back weekends, with the first night celebrating the decades of the 1970s, 80s, and 90s (as well as the milestone reunions of the classes of 1971, 1976, 1981, 1986, 1991, and 1996) and the second night celebrating the decades of the 1950s and 60s (as well as the milestone reunion class of 1951, 1956, 1961, and 1966, celebrating the 50-year milestone).
With those loyal attendees looking forward to another evening of Phantom fun, there was much excitement. Gala committee member and class of 1987 graduate Jesus DeLaCruz looks back at preparing the two evenings…“the committee as a whole, was great to work with. We did all we could to make sure this event was one that would be one that would get all the first timers to come back and maybe bring an alumni back with them next year. I think we accomplished our goal. Ultimately, it was about the students of Cathedral. As for myself, I had a great time preparing and can’t wait to be a part of next year’s gala (my 30-year reunion).”
Just like the previous 14 years, all the hard work was finally done. It was now time to sit back and witness two evenings of fun, great music, food, and memories.
The 15th annual “Return to Cathedral Gala” was the big 2-night event of the year that once again brought out alumni from all eras. From the alumni of the early fifties to alumni as recent as the 2000s, it would not take much to realize that it was going to be a special evening.
After the announcement that the Gala would once again be returning to Cathedral, it was no surprise that ticket sales would be selling quicker than ever. From the many class photos of this year’s milestone reunion classes to the view of the downtown skyline seen from the outdoor bar area, the 2016 gala was that 2-night event that would be long remembered.
Opening up the event on both nights were Alumni President Hector Roman ’76 and Treasurer Joe Mazadiego ’66, who both welcomed all to the event before paying tribute to the class of 1966, celebrating 50 years together. Also honored on night number two was the former Brother Gerald who was honored with a plaque by 1966 ASB President Dominic Puglisi. After a few words by school president Martin Farfan ’86 and the opening prayer from School Principal Brother John Montgomery, it was time for dinner.
Catering the gala dinner both nights was Stevens Steakhouse, a big supporter of many of the Alumni events. The menu was a combination of meat, chicken, seafood pasta, potatoes, vegetables, and salad. La Morenita Bakery, owned and operated by the family of Alex Pena ’93, would once again provide the delicious cakes.
Following dinner was the presentation of the “Victor Balzano Class Spirit Award”, given to the class with the largest class present. For night number one, the award would be presented to the class of 1976 who had a turnout of 32 members. It would be their first Balzano award ever. The class of 1991, winners from 2011, would take second. With a “co-winner for the second year in a row, the second winner of the award (presented on night number 2) would be presented to the class of 1966 (also their first Balzano award ever) who would have a turnout of 49 members. The class of 1967 (winner of the award many times in the past, including 2 years ago) would finish second with 32 members.
The entertainment for the two evenings were the talented Top 40 bands “ACE” on night number one and “Smooth Touch” on night number two. Both bands, who have entertained our Gala crowds in the past, once again offered old school, latin, and motown sounds. During each break on both nights, keeping the party going was the gifted DJ Jose “Pebo” Rodriguez from the class of 1971 for night number one while son of Treasurer Joe Mazadiego ’66 would be the DJ for night number two (both of whom kept the dance floor jumping).
Another highlight of the gala was the presentation of the “Phantom for Life” award, which is given out to those who have demonstrated a dedication to preserving the mission of Cathedral High School. Receiving the award this year were Victor (CHS ’81) and Nora (SHHS ’81) Fernandez, who for years, have been very much active with both the Gala committee and the Lady Phantoms Cheerleading squad. Nora still remembers that moment during night number one….”Oh my God Victor, we are becoming Phantoms for life”!!!
Ending the final night of the gala was the always popular “Phantom Big $10,000 Sweepstakes” was held, giving one lucky person a shot at $10,000. Ticket sales were going strong during the event as no one wanted to be left out of the opportunity to walk away with the big bucks. With the winner of last year’s drawing having been awarded to class of 1955 graduate Frank Moramarco, which Phantom graduate would win it this year? Dan Lopez from the class of 1968 would be this year’s lucky winner to take home the $10,000 prize. Alex Chavez would take home the $1000 prize and Martha Medina would take the $500 prize. Think about how many of these three winners said, “I could never win it”, but gave it a shot anyways. Perhaps next year will be the year you finally consider buying a Big 10 ticket? Watch for 2017 gala info next spring which will include the opportunity for another shot at the big prize.
“The gala could also have not been possible without the help of the many parents who devoted long hours in order to make this event a success. Parent Michele Valle still has plenty of great things to say about the 2-night event…”I am very grateful to be a part of Cathedral’s Alumni Gala especially on behalf of my father (Class of 1968’s Joe Valle). I know that he would have been a big contributor especially knowing that his first two grandsons (Christian Gonzalez-Valle ’18 and Preston Gonzalez-Valle ’20) are current students of his alma mater. The ambiance of these evenings were of so much love and pride and as a daughter of an alumni, I am honored to experience such an event. My hours of work are actually a reflection of my lifetime love for my father and his pride of being a “Phantom Forever”.
Though many showed up for the purpose of enjoying two great nights with friends not seen in years, they also showed up for the purpose of helping the many CHS families who struggle with today’s tuition costs. When you attend these galas, you play a big part in the presentation of the scholarships given to CHS students every November. If you have yet to attend our CHS galas, perhaps these scholarships will now persuade you to. The CHS Alumni Association challenges you to make an effort to attend future galas, to contact classmates for reunions, and to invite friends to share in this wonderful experience of reconnecting with friends, sharing old stories, and most important, raising funds for students of low income families.
Attention classes of ’57, ’62, ’67, ’72, ’77, ’82, ’87, ’92, ’97, ’02, and ’07….interested in being a representative for your class reunion next year? As the rep for my class’ reunions in 2009 and 2014, I can assure you how easy it is. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested.
As for those beautiful alumni members of our sister schools, don’t go through the troubles of booking a restaurant or hall for your reunion next year. Plan it with us. Just like our CHS reunion classes, we do all the work. You don’t even have to collect the money. Just sit back and enjoy a stress-free evening of fun and memories with your fellow classmates. Contact me as well if you are interested. Many classes from our sister schools have joined us and trust me, they are glad they made the decision to do so. You won’t regret it!
Any CHS alumni member interested in joining our gala committee? New members are always welcomed as well!
Watch your emails, CHS Alumni Facebook page, and/or our website (www.cathedralalumni.com) for info on next year’s gala and the Big 10 Sweepstakes.
We’ll see you next year at the 16th annual “Return to Cathedral” alumni gala. Don’t miss out!