By Nina Aghadjanian
Amid a summer replete with COVID-19 versions of events like drive-thru graduations and concerts, the Adventist Health Glendale Foundation transformed the rooftop of the Americana at Brand into a nostalgic movie experience for its first-ever “drive-in gala.”
Aptly named, UNGala 2020 convened 140 cars and more than 200 guests to recognize Dr. Ronald S. and Georgiana Wu, this year’s honorees after which the foundation named the medical center’s main auditorium for their 52-year service to the hospital and community.
On Wednesday just before sunset, casually dressed and masked dignitaries pulled up to level eight of the Americana, where they were greeted with a welcome bag full of movie snacks and celebratory flags that read, “Congratulations Dr. Ronald and Mrs. Georgiana Wu.” From their cars, attendees waved to and cheered Adventist Health Glendale President Alice Issai and the Wus, who briefly stood outside their car while maintaining a six-foot distance. Attendees remained inside their vehicles for the entire evening in this unique “no contact” fundraiser.
The smell of popcorn wafted through the air while Abba’s “Dancing Queen” played from Issai’s convertible for the start of what felt like a feel-good party from which the hospital could be seen in the distance.
Though a real stage and hors d’oeuvres were sidelined by social distancing, the UNGala event, which was planned in a matter of two weeks, went on. The procession turned to car Tetris as vehicles made their way in front of two massive projection screens to watch the program, audible via K-Wave radio station 107.9 FM.