STORY: INDEPENDENCE DAY GALA
REPORTER: TOMI HINKKANEN – LOS ANGELES
PHOTOS: JONNY KAHLEYN
It was a memorable evening at the Bel Air residence of the Finnish Consul General of Los Angeles. Under an enormous tent erected on the tennis court, some 500 party revelers celebrated the 94th anniversary of Finnish independence decked out to max.
Among party guests were war veterans, entrepreneurs, scientists, artists, key figures from various Finnish associations and even Hollywood celebrities.
Consul General Kirsti Westphalen has represented Finland in LA with flying colors. In her speech, she gave her guests a glimpse of the economic situation in Europe.
“We need more Europe, not less”, She remarked about the current crisis with the Euro. In Southern California, Westphalen emphasized education as a major effort. Recently 300 American educators attended a summit held in San Diego – a record number.
James Koenig, who organizes the Scandinavian Film festival every January, did an amazing job singing the Finnish national anthem both in Finnish and Swedish, as well as belting out the Star Spangled banner in his native English. Reine Rimòn and Her Hot Papas entertained the crowd with New Orleans style Dixieland music.
The Finnish Independence Gala attracted Finns and friends of Finns of many ages and from all walks of life as well as some Hollywood luminaries. Former magician Iiro Seppänen has transitioned into a new career as a Hollywood producer. He leads the Pan Pacific Entertainment – a company that focuses on Sino-American co-productions. Costume designer Susanna Puisto has been busy as always. For the last six months she has been designing costumes for the procedural TV show Body of Proof, starring Dana Delaney. Sirpa Selanne , the wife of Teemu, was celebrating without her husband who was busy playing hockey. The couple will go to Winnipeg to watch a game between Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets. The Selännes will spend Christmas in California. Ex-Miss Finland Pia Pakarinen was shining prettier than ever in a blue mini-dress. She is staying with Maria and Paul Kizirianin while studying acting at the Larry Moss Studio in Santa Monica. Pia intends to stay in LA until mid-January. Another student spotted from the crowd was fashion designer Paola Suhonen. The lovely Paola was wearing a beautiful lace dress. Pitsimekkoon Paola is studying cinematography at the American Film Institute. Makeup artist Riku Campo has been busy applying make-up to CSI Miami’s Cote De Tablo, and the International movie star couple Irina Bjorklund and Peter Franzen will be celebrating a Finnish Christmas in Los Angeles with their son and a live Santa Claus. Other luminaries included the very talented and handsomely dressed chef Stefan Richter, the majestic UCLA basketball player Erica Tukiainen, the ever so beautiful actress Anna Easteden and many others.
The Finnish flag was held high in the City of Angels in this beautiful and so very meaningful celebration to all of us. Thank you Consul General Kirsti Westphalen and everyone at the Consulate-General of Finland in Los Angeles for organizing such a memorable evening.
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