By Christina Molina with photos by Daniel Herberholz
Warm smiles and holiday spirit set the tone for members of the Milpitas Executive Lions Club as they arrived for their ninth anniversary and holiday celebration Saturday.
The catered event at in the hosted more than 50 people and featured a children's fashion show with the theme "It's a Small World."
"It is an annual event thats been here the last three years," said Neil Ruditsky, general manager of the Beverly Heritage Hotel and member of the Lions Club.
The event is an annual tradition, but had a special purpose this weekend - to honor youth members of the LEO Club.
According to Ray Maglalang, past district governor of the Milpitas Executive Lions Club, the holiday celebration is the only ceremony where child members, known as "Leos", are honored.
LEO Club celebrated its seventh year, while a new club was introduced.
"We're inducting new Leos, and also new members into our (new) club today," said MariCris Benitez, president of the Milpitas Executive Lions Club. "We're chartering a new community club. We have members who have kids, and some kids who wanted to join but are from private schools or schools in other areas."
The "It's a Small World" fashion show, following the induction, featured nine children and three costume changes, with outfits that ranged from casual wear to holiday outfits.
Milpitas Mayor Jose Esteves was also in attendance.
"It's always good to participate, even just being a member, because in one way or another, it shows your support and appreciation of what they do," Esteves said.
As a member of the Milpitas Lions for nearly three years, Esteves said he is proud of the club's contributions.
"It's an array of good activities (the Lions participate in) that make this a better world," he said.
The Lions are active within the Milpitas community and various neighboring cities in the Bay Area, according to Benitez.
"We feel good that we can make a difference here in Milpitas and in the community and be able to give back a little bit of our fortunate blessings," Ruditsky said.
Proceeds from Saturday's celebration and fashion show will benefit the Milpitas Executive Lions Club's many charitable, community-minded projects its members organize each year.