Industrial workers continue tradition
Nov. 20, 2012 at 5:20 a.m.
Updated Nov. 21, 2012 at 5:21 a.m.
What began as a way for shift workers to celebrate the holidays together has evolved into a time of giving to those in need.
"Often, due to our work schedules, we could not attend company-sponsored events. So we started having our own gatherings," said Ralph Gonzales, one of the five original organizers of the Industrial Workers Christmas Party.
"We have grown from 20 or so friends to the party now attracting about 500 friends."
The party, now in its 29th year, has called Club Westerner home since 1983.
Arthur Vasquez said the growth of the event was inevitable.
"There was never any question in my mind that it would grow," he said. "It's mind bending to see it last for 29 years with many of the same friends, some now traveling from other cities.
"And now, with even more enjoyment since the majority of us are retired and don't get to see or enjoy each other's company as much."
Vasquez added that the party attendees have many bonds.
"Most of us grew up together, have gone through school together," he said.
"But we had lost some contact due to our commitment to the armed forces during the Vietnam War and then our jobs. We wanted in some way to reinstate our friendship."
Three years ago, another element was added to the event - a toy giveaway.
Linda Galvan, the wife of Albert Galvan, also one of the original organizers of the event, came up with the idea.
Last year, more than 80 children received gifts during the party.
Norman Ramirez said all the people involved with the Industrial Workers party have a soft spot for the less fortunate.
"For several years, we had been considering doing something to give back to the community, primarily children," Gonzales said.
"The toy drive adds a sense of providing a better Christmas to all that we can. Giving a child a gift and that child having a fond memory goes a long way in helping create a content family setting."
The children aren't the only ones that get something out of the toy drive.
"I think of my kids growing up and how they reacted (at Christmas). If more people were to see this first-hand, who knows, God would grant the world a moment of love and peace," said Vasquez.
Norman Ramirez also loves seeing the children receive gifts.
"Everyone is touched by the reaction of the children. It's everyone's wish that we could help more of the less fortunate in our community. We urge other organizations to do the same," he said.
"I hope the party and giveaway can continue for many years to come."
Vasquez added that younger workers may have to keep the tradition alive.
"With this group getting older and seeing the loss of one our founding members, Eddie Ramirez, we hope the next generation can slow down, open their hearts and experience what we have," he said.