December 22, 2001 -- Vegparadise News Bureau
Couple Celebrates 50th Anniversary in an Onion
Radiating with genuine love in a unique room in the round at the Unitarian Church in North Hills, California, Coby and Hans Siegenthaler celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary on Saturday afternoon, December 22, 2001, surrounded by devoted friends and family.
The Onion, the informal name of the church with its brown-shingled building resembling an onion three stories high, quivered with joy that afternoon. Sounds of excited chattering filled the room as guests who came from distant parts of the country greeted Hans and Coby, who have been a vital part of the vegetarian and animal rights community in Los Angeles for many years.
Soft background music by talented harpist Bobbie Jo Curley warmly filled the room. The assembled guests had contributed to pay Bobbie Jo who appeared in her own wedding dress as she played.
Original pencil and charcoal drawings by Coby's mother had traveled across the Atlantic from Holland to decorate the wood-paneled walls of the church. Throughout the afternoon a large projection screen displayed home movies of Hans and Coby as children as well as videos of them with their family.
Master of Ceremonies, Howard Lyman, touched many hearts when he announced that, "Nine billion animals tried to get a ticket to be here today, and Coby personally approved each one of them."
At the microphone Hans expressed his affection for Coby by sharing these words that display their depth of love and commitment for each other, "This year I was three months in the hospital. Coby was there every single day, even staying overnight at first. I don't know what else I can say . . ." They exchanged loving glances and kissed. Everyone of the130-plus guests cheered, and the room melted into warm vibrations.
Although Rashid, a Los Angeles vegan caterer, supplied a host of tasty dishes including several unique lasagnas, many of the guests also brought homemade delicacies such as mushrooms stuffed with tabbouli, sun-dried tomato and walnut pate, and spinach turnovers. Vegetable Delight, a Chinese vegetarian restaurant, contributed a sweet and sour vegetable dish, while Alaine Shrewsbury of Alaine's Bakery brought Blueberry Raspberry Cheesecake that topped the meal with a perfect finishing touch.
Not only did the guests contribute food, but they also waited on tables, cleared dishes, and assisted in kitchen duties and cleanup.
Hans and Coby's friends provided entertainment that featured piano, guitar, dulcimer, and ukelele stylings, songs, monologues, poems, parodies, a belly dance, and a magic act all given from their hearts and talents. Janet Allen of Organic Consumers Association, acting as MC and talent coordinator, concluded the show with her own Puppy Daddy Rap.
Howard Lyman brought the afternoon's festivities to a close with a rousing toast to Hans and Coby whom he called "Mom and Dad." As the guests raised their glasses of sparkling apple cider, they shouted, "Hip Hip Hooray!"
Reminiscing, Howard talked about visiting their home for the first time on a night of pouring rain and having to face the challenge of "how on earth to open their gate." Everyone joined in laughter at the familiar challenge that gate poses to first-time visitors.
Howard's final words filled the room with yet another grand cheer as he said with a crack in his voice, "I look forward to the day when someone eating meat becomes an item on the 11 o'clock news!"