Awards Gala Honors Accomplished Palisadians

By CHRISTIAN MONTERROSA | Reporter

The Pacific Palisades Community Council held its annual Holiday Dinner & Awards Gala on Thursday, Dec. 13, to honor their fellow accomplished Palisadians.

Set to the backdrop of the Pacific Ocean in a dining hall at Gladstones, local first responders from the Los Angeles Fire Department and Los Angeles Police Department were in attendance, as well as representatives of local city officials.

Palisadian Arnie Wishnick, recipient of the Pride of the Palisades Award, made his first public appearance in months after being sidelined by health issues.

Before Wishnick could get a word in, he was honored by every city official in the room, including a certificate from Councilmember Mike Bonin himself.

Wishnick was worried his illness would prevent him from making it to the awards ceremony.

“I thought ‘Oh, my God, I’m not going to make it to December the 15th at Gladstones, but I made it. I’m here,” Wishnick said in a comedic and heartfelt speech as the crowd erupted in applause.

Wishnick recalled his first-ever Sparkplug Award, which came just two years after moving to the Palisades, and he has been involved ever since, becoming the go-to person in community initiatives.

From writing reviews in the Palisadian-Post to working on the parade committee, he has done and seen it all.

“I have to say thank you to the community council and to my fellow honorees,” he said.

Palisadians Jimmy Dunne and Bob Harter were recognized as Co-Citizens of the Year. The duo has been collaborating on community projects for several years, most recently in their efforts to renovate the Upper Picnic area at Palisades Recreation Center to build bocce ball courts and garden rooms in what is now known as the Veterans’ Gardens.

Dunne expressed gratitude and appreciation for being accepted into the community in a previous interview with the Post.

“In the whole of it, I’m just so honored and I just feel so blessed to be part of the Palisades family,” he said.

Dede Vlietstra and John Steadman were given Golden Sparkplug Awards for their initiative and involvement in the community. Vlietstra has been credited for being part of a team that cleared all of the homeless encampments in Pacific Palisades and remains active in making sure the homeless communities are properly attended to.

As the five Palisadians received their awards, those in the crowd were no strangers to community involvement as current and former members of PPCC watched newcomers receive awards they themselves had won in the past.

“It’s a gala, it’s a very formal event, but there is nothing formal about it,” Bonin said. “This is like a big Thanksgiving dinner. There are so many people in this room who have done so much for this community.”