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Las Vegas Society News  

Note: This is a past article from December 04, 2012
You can find the current Las Vegas Society News article HERE


17th ANNUAL LAS VEGANS OLD TIME REUNION CELEBRATION.

by Dr. Adele Zorn


Former Sheriff Ralph Lamb, Dr. Adele Zorn, Brother of Ralph Lamb

Congresswoman Shelley Berkley, Jeffrey Raithel, Shelley’s Dad, Yvonne Karim

The Old-Time Reunion Celebration was once again held at The ORLEANS Grand Ballroom. This was the 17th annual celebration for LAS VEGAS residents who have lived here 30 years or more. Nostalgia, camaraderie, great food, drinks and musical entertainment was enjoyed by Ol’ Time Las Vegans.

This great idea took hold seventeen years ago when a group of longtime Las Vegans would get together for breakfast at Bagel Mania. Thalia Dondero, Claudine Williams, Ron and Art Lurie, Davey and Lou Pearl, Ken Johann, Abe Fox, Ruthe Deskin, Jack Kogan and Paul Endy had so much fun talking about old times, they decided it would be great to share this kind of nostalgia with others who had lived in Las Vegas for at least 30 years.

The first Old Time Reunion Celebration was held at ARIZONA CHARLIES with 500 people attending, and each year, the gathering got bigger. The amazing thing is that the event is not even advertised, but somehow the word gets out. Unfortunately, some of the founders are gone, but they left a legacy that has become an annual celebration.


Sasha Semenoff Trio

Thalia Dondaro (center)

Longtime Las Vegans at the party include Las Vegas movers and shakers and everyday people brought together by the fact that they have been here long enough to realize how wonderful this town is (or was). Old time residents had experienced living in an atmosphere of a small town where everyone knew one another. They had witnessed the phenomenal growth of Las Vegas becoming a big city metropolis and bemoan the fact that now neighbors do not necessarily even know each other and corporations seem to have taken over everything. Even the Old Time Reunion staff is gone and an agency has taken on the task. Although the town has grown so much, and most old time Las Vegans complain about the growth, celebrants have so much fun and excitement in seeing one another and reminiscing. I have been at every Old Time Reunion party since its inception at ARIZONA CHARLIES. Then it was held at THE STARDUST and now at THE ORLEANS.


Nelson Sardelli (left)         Judge Bonaventure (right)

guests

The 17th Annual Old-Time Reunion Party started with a cocktail hour with music by Sasha Semenoff on his fabulous violin along with his son, Paul Semenoff on Bass and Ty Lemley on Guitar. During the cocktail reception, old friends were able to greet and enjoy meeting each other. Among those seen mingling were: Jim Marsh, Marilyn and Mel Larson, Denny Weddle, Angie Wallin, Bernie Weinstock, Joanne Titus, Rosita Kane, Joe LaVigna, Thalia Dondaro, Ken Johann, Dr. Lonnie Hammergren, Lou Toomin and Congresswoman Shelley Berkley.

After the cocktail reception, guests entered the main Ballroom. The Star Spangled Banner was beautifully sung by the manager of the ORLEANS Canal Street Restaurant. Dinner was served and the band played on throughout the evening.


Band and singer

guests

This year the musical entertainment for the evening consisted of only a band and a singer. Denise Clemente also came on to sing. Otherwise, there was no Master of Ceremonies, other performers or acknowledgments as in the past. However, the table seating ticket said the Old-Time Reunion Party was honoring founders: Ken Johann, Joe Delaney, Thalia Dondero, Paul Endy, Herb Kaufman, Jack Kogan, Art Lurie, Bill Moore and Dale and Lou Pearl. The nostalgia that went on other than with the guests themselves were screened videos on the walls of long-gone hotels and other historical places that were part of Las Vegas’ heritage. Some of these were:

FIRST POST OFFICE - 1915 on the GOLDEN NUGGET site

CLUB BINGO - 1947 – became the SAHARA in 1952

HELDORADO DAYS - 1951

FIRST WEDDING CHAPEL - 1959

DUNES, RIVIERA, AND TROPICANA – 1955-57

CASTAWAYS – 1963 became THE MIRAGE

CIRCUS CIRCUS - 1968

SILVERBIRD 1977 – became El RANCHO

and restaurants such as ALPINE VILLAGE and THE FLAME


guests

guests

Dinner was quite good, especially the dessert. However, there was no program or individual performers that used to perform between each course. None of the previous old time entertainers except Sasha’s Semenoff’s Trio seemed to be in attendance, and they were really missed. Dinner was served quite quickly and the evening ended early. Because of the shorter event I had less time to take more pictures and do more interviews. However, I did meet former Sheriff Ralph Lamb and his brother at the event. “Vegas” is now a television series that centers on Sheriff Ralph Lamb who served as Sheriff of Clark County from 1961 to 1979.


guests

Ken Johann (on right - founder of Old Time Reunion Party)

I also had a chance to meet Laurene Timm who has been in Las Vegas for 65 years. Laurene told me about her husband Robert Timm and John Cook who have the World Flight Endurance Record. Their 1958 Cesna airplane called HACIENDA now hangs from the ceiling at the baggage area at McCarran Airport. Laurene’s husband Robert Timm and John Cook flew this airplane for 64 days, 22 hours and 19 minutes.


Nelson Sardelli and Judge Bonaventure

Because the event ended so early, some guests complained about that. The staff were cleaning the Ballroom, so they remained long afterwards in the outer Ballroom Lobby completing the evening with renewed nostalgia. Regardless, all enjoyed this annual event and look forward to the next Old Time Reunion Celebration.



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