HomeCommunity NewsLaurell: Five Years Young, Professionals Indulge in Spooky Anniversary

Laurell: Five Years Young, Professionals Indulge in Spooky Anniversary

 The elements of silver and wood represent the gifts married couples give one another as they celebrate their fifth anniversary.

Lusine Simonyan-Hacobian pulls off the alter ego of Gotham City’s cat burglar Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman for the festive occasion.

The symbolism behind giving silver represents the bond formed over five years of shared meals, while gifts of wood signify the strength and durability of the roots that formed and nourished the tree.

Along with being the natural resources that are used to celebrate fifth anniversaries, the metal found in the Earth’s crust, once forged into silver bullets, and the structural tissue found in the stems and roots of trees, crafted into wooden hammers and stakes, have also been the traditional tools used to eradicate vampires, werewolves and other ghoulish creatures of the night.

This past week, as costumed members of the Burbank Young Professionals convened, wood and silver would have been apropos for both uses as the gathering of ghostly ghouls, bewitching spell-casters, and popular characters from film and television swarmed together to celebrate Halloween and the organization’s fifth anniversary.

Stephanie Perez as a dark angel makes her appearance at the spooky event.

Throughout the festively frightful evening guests were treated to tours of the 60,000-square-foot West Empire Avenue headquarters of West Coast Customs. To make the tours even better, they were given by Dana “Big Dane” Florence, one of the stars of the reality shows “Pimp My Ride” and “Street Customs” that West Coast Customs produced for MTV, Discovery, Fox Sports 2 and Motor Trend.

Founded in 1993 by Ryan Friedlinghaus, West Coast Customs employs cutting-edge artists, engineers and mechanics who build and customize every form of transportation from golf carts, boats and motorcycles to high-end sports and luxury vehicles and aircraft.

Rhinestone cowboy Brandon Wei visits the bar.

The evening, which saw Dan Nier as Beetlejuice and Ryan Bates as the Pillsbury Doughboy take top honors in the costume contest, was also highlighted by state Sen. Anthony Portantino and Burbank City Councilwoman Tamala Takahashi presenting proclamations to the group’s Chairman Ryan Chatterton in recognition of the organization’s fifth anniversary.

Among the special guests at last week’s eerie event was the organization’s co-founder Romik Hacobian who, five years ago, based the idea to form the group on a model created by the Glendale Chamber of Commerce.

The owner of Media City Design and Consulting who also serves as a Burbank police commissioner and an ambassador for the Burbank Chamber, Hacobian noticed there were no young people at any of the chamber’s mixers or networking events. He mentioned that concern to then-chamber CEO Tom Flavin, who explained that since the Burbank Junior Chamber of Commerce was dissolved, his organization rarely saw involvement with young people.

Determined to change that dynamic, Hacobian sought out people working in Burbank by means of social media, placed fliers in the Magnolia Park and downtown Burbank business districts, and literally knocked on doors of businesses to introduce himself.

That work resulted in the establishment of BYP, which first formally met in October 2018, with more than 90 people in attendance.

The group, which is open to local working professionals who are young or young at heart, has grown since that time and, along with providing networking opportunities, has participated in numerous acts of community service. They sponsored a candidate forum and town hall meeting during Burbank’s last municipal campaign and have collaborated with numerous nonprofit organizations on community projects.

For more information on Burbank Young Professionals and membership opportunities, visit burbankyp.com.

Grace Ilasco dresses as Velma of Mystery Incorporated alongside Dan Nier, who took best costume honors as Beetlejuice.
An arachnid-veiled Leeron Tal Dvir emerges from the mist at last week’s party.
Hayley and Julian Aston arrive to the party as a pair of shining knights.
Vianca Munoz puts a bewitching spell on “Frankie” while Ryan Bates looks on in his award-winning Pillsbury Doughboy costume.

DAVID LAURELL may be reached by email at dlaurell@aol.com or (818) 563-1007.

First published in the November 4 print issue of the Burbank Leader.

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