Catalina Island

Inn at Mt. Ada Holiday Open House


On Catalina Island
Cheer and Charity Abounded
At the Inn at Mt. Ada Holiday Open House
By Leslie Baer

The air was crisp and fresh, and puffy clouds emanated a pink hue over Avalon Bay. That was the view from the Inn at Mt. Ada last Thursday afternoon, which couldn’t have been more spectacular as guests came together to celebrate the holidays as part of a long-held and beloved tradition at the Inn.
After a several-year hiatus, the Holiday Open House at the Inn at Mt. Ada was resurrected by the Catalina Island Foundation (CIF) in collaboration with the Santa Catalina Island Company and the capable staff of the Inn. And it wasn’t too soon for nearly 500 members of the community who flocked to the beautiful venue to share holiday cheer and to show their support for worthy local charities
“It’s a great tradition, and I’m so happy it’s back!” said Sue Rikalo, long-time local resident and business owner.
Fires burned in the Inn’s many fire places, and the smell of hot wassail prepared by local celebrity wassail-maker Denny Honsey along with freshly-made holiday cookies, courtesy of Ben’s Bakery and many local cookie-baking volunteers, filled the Inn as guests explored the once-home of William Wrigley Jr., and namesake Ada Wrigley. Beautifully decorated trees, wreaths and garlands added to the scene, and Christmas music (provided by Porschia Denning and Vern Altieri, with several guest singers), along with the presence of Avalon’s own Santa and Mrs. Claus offered final touches to an already perfect setting.
And perhaps best of all, charity “the real spirit and reason for the season” was celebrated at the event. Cliff Hague, CIF co-founder and current board member, called for all to gather in the toasty living room of the Inn so that funds raised throughout the year could be distributed to some of this year’s grant recipients.
“The discontinuation of several charitable events over the past few years has created challenges for local community organizations who’s programs have a profound impact on quality of life in Avalon,”  Hague explained. “The Catalina Island Foundation was founded in 2014 to address the funding challenges of these very worthy programs.”
On behalf of CIF, Hague along with directors Linda Rivkin, Jen Monroe, and Todd and Kathy Hallenbeck…with Santa and Mrs. Claus joyfully looking on…presented checks to five worthy Catalina charities. Meals on Wheels was awarded a $2,500 grant on behalf of Southern California Edison to further their offerings of wholesome meals to seniors in need. Preschool Learning for Avalon Youth  (PLAY) received $3,000 to complete some badly needed painting.–
The Avalon High School Football team, recent California Interscholastic Federation winner for the first time in school history, was awarded $3,000 on behalf of Bruce and Lisa Gelker. The Catalina Island Foundation also presented $5,000 to Marine Animal Rescue for a sorely needed boat dedicated to Catalina waters, and a generous $10,000 to Catalina Kid Ventures for an overdue repaving project.  Representatives from each organization spoke briefly about their worthy causes, and extended their thanks to the Foundation.
In closing, Hague thanked the more than 30 volunteers and staff at the Inn who had worked so hard to make this year’s event “a home run.” In terms of quality, attendance, and funds raised during the event to fuel future grants to worthy charities, “It very much exceeded our expectations,” Hague continued.  “We deeply appreciate everyone’s efforts, including the many community leaders who came out to support the event, and especially the Santa Catalina Island Company who made the Inn available for such a wonderful celebration. We hope to do it again next year.”
If you missed the opportunity this year to support worthy Catalina organizations through the Catalina Island Foundation, you can still make your tax-deductible year-end gift at
The Catalina Island Foundation was founded in 2014 in Avalon to raise funds for programs that support quality of life for the residents of Catalina Island. It is administrated by the San Diego Foundation, a non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization founded in 1975 that administers numerous community-oriented funds.