Kiitos Consul General Juha Markkanen and Tuula Markkanen for hosting such a beautiful celebratory event in Los Angeles.

Quoting from Ava Anttila’s most recent ‘AROUND LA WITH AVA®: Hail and Farewell’ (dedicated to her father Finnish Veteran Ari Anttila who I missed so very much at this year’s celebration):

‘There is a long legacy of individuals and organizations continuing in the Finnish tradition that will make sure that what is true, righteous, and proud in our history, heritage, and national treasure will live on. We will share our history; we will work hard; we will never forget; we will honor your Sisu and sacrifice.’

Here are some pictures of the the event by photographer Jonny Kahleyn:

Vintage Jewelry and Natural Parfums Sale  Until 12/15 (Use code HIMOM15 for a 15% discount)

Vintage Jewelry and Natural Parfums Sale Until 12/15 (Use code HIMOM15 for a 15% discount)


By Tomi Hinkkanen, Los Angeles, CA
Photograph by Jonny Kahleyn

Plans are in the works to move all or some functions of the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles to Silicon Valley, some 350 miles (550 kilometers) north of LA. The worst scenario would be the complete shutdown of the consulate in Los Angeles. This is a very bad idea that should be soundly rejected. You can help by signing the petition below this message.

Finland has had representation in the Los Angeles area in one form or another for over 60 years. The Office of the Vice Consul of Finland opened in Los Angeles in 1948. The first Honorary Vice Consul, later Consul, was the legendary Yrjö A. Paloheimo. The Consulate General offices have been located in the Century City section of Los Angeles since the early 1980’s. Over the years the consulate has promoted Finnish arts, education, technology, businesses, culture, tourism, and even Santa Claus. The Consulate General in LA represents 13 Western States that have 70 million inhabitants. Some 7,500 to 9,000 Finnish citizens live in its close proximity. Out of those, about 4,000 Finns call Southern California home (versus approximately 2,000 in the Bay Area).

Southern California has a highly motivated, dedicated, caring, and diverse Finnish community encompassing individuals of many professional and socio-economic backgrounds that range from regular hard working Finns to artists, painters, sculptors, actors, filmmakers, musicians, researchers, scientists, students, educators, business people, lawyers, medical professionals, retirees and, yes, even us journalists. The Consulate General of Finland has been the magnet that has brought all these people together. Gatherings sponsored by the Consulate General have been extremely beneficial as they offer Finnish and American experts of various fields a chance to meet and interchange knowledge and experience. Under Consul General Kirsti Westphalen, the consulate has been especially active in organizing events around various themes important to the success of Finland and it played an essential role in promoting FinnFest in San Diego, held in August 2011.

Trends come and go, and the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles has always adapted accordingly. The ex-Consul General Maria Serenius was instrumental in starting the Global Access Program (GAP) in collaboration with the Finnish Technology Agency Tekes and University of California Los Angeles (UCLA). Each year GAP brings Finnish high tech companies to UCLA where fully employed MBA students create strategic business plans for those companies. The program has been extremely successful. During the last 13 years, some 120 Finnish companies have participated in GAP with many been able to expand their operations to the United States thanks to the program. Tarja Halonen, the president of Finland, has just acknowledged the importance of GAP by granting its director, UCLA Anderson Business School professor Bob Foster, a Knight, First Class, of the Order of the White Rose of Finland medal. Furthermore, the GAP program has been extended for the next three years. This would not have happened without the help of the Consulate General.

Recently, the Consulate General has recognized the emergence and importance of green economy and green technology that offer great possibilities for Finnish companies, and it has acted as a liaison between the Finnish clean tech cluster and the American know-how in the area. The Consulate General has also been a major promoter of the Finnish education model (which has emerged as a new Finnish export) by organizing seminars and gatherings on the theme.

The Consulate General of Los Angeles has, for many years, worked closely with all Finnish public and non-governmental entities such Finnode, Finpro, Finnish-American Chamber of Commerce, FinnFest as well as many others in the spirit of House of Finland. All parties have been extremely satisfied by this co-operation and with its quality and direction. The Finnish community has been served outstandingly by the competent staff of the Consulate General.

California is the eight largest economy of the world. Los Angeles particularly as the second largest city of the United States and the second largest media market offers the best possible location for the Consulate General of Finland in the Western United States. Los Angeles has a large and diverse population. Trends are born here. It is estimated that over 50% of the internet content is generated here. Hollywood, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and vast array of institutions of higher education such as UCLA and USC are all in Los Angeles. The lovely residence of the Consul General in the Bel Air section is fully paid for and owned by the Finnish Government and offers an excellent showcase for Finland. Los Angeles is the place to be. Without putting down the good people of Silicon Valley, it is clear that Finland would not get anywhere near the visibility, attention and results there it gets in Los Angeles. A consulate in the far reaches of Silicon Valley wouldn’t even be practical to a casual Finnish tourist visiting San Francisco. It would only serve the interests of high tech industry (who are already represented there by Finnode and Finpro). We recognize the need to save money, but it would be penny wise and pound foolish to close down the Consulate General in Los Angeles which best embodies the direction all Finnish representations abroad are aiming for, namely promoting a very competitive Finland. The closure of the Consulate General in Los Angeles would not be in the best interests of Finland. Therefore, I urge you to join me and reject these plans. The Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles is near and dear to us and we want to keep it right here, where it rightfully belongs.

Please sign the petition below this message to save the Consulate General of Finland in Los Angeles.

Tomi Hinkkanen
Publisher – Finntimes





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.

Finnish Independence Celebration 2011 - Los Angeles

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.

Finnish Independence Celebration 2011 - Los Angeles

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.

Finnish Independence Celebration 2011 - Los Angeles

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.

Finnish Independence Ball Los Angeles
Finnish Independence Celebration  – Los Angeles


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