FALA at the 50th Annual Dinner Dance of Finlandia Foundation New York Metropolitan Chapter

On the evening of March 7, 2009, Finlandia Foundation, New York Metropolitan Chapter, held its Annual Arts and Letters Award GALA Dinner Dance at the Union League Club in Manhattan. The evening activities commenced with Heli Blum and her daughter leading the audience in signing the Finnish and American national anthems. The President of the Finlandia Foundation, Tarja Silverman, gave a welcoming address and acknowledged the Honorary Chairperson of the event, The Consul General of Finland to New York, Ritva Jolkkonen, and the Ambassador from Finland to the United Nations, Kirsti Lintonen.

Robert Alan Saasto, Esq., President of the Finnish American Lawyers Association, FALA, acted as the MC and introduced the dignitaries and honorees to the audience where over one hundred people were in attendance. Among those recognized were representatives from the Consulate General of Finland to New York, Marimekko, Scandinavian Airlines, Nokia, Scandecor, the Finnish American Chamber of Commerce, and the Finnish American Lawyers Association (FALA). Special thanks was given to Marjatta Freeman for her generosity and sponsorship of the guest performer, Tapani Kansa.

Marja Roth-Sopanen, the former President of the Finlandia Foundation New York Chapter for many years, presented the Arts and Letters Award to Marimekko. Marja spoke about the history and success of Marimekko, a leading Finnish design company which produces and sells clothing, interior decoration, bags and other accessories in over 40 countries. Marimekko became instantly known in the U.S.A. in 1960 when Jacqueline Kennedy bought seven dresses during the presidential campaign. Paivi Lonka accepted the award on behalf of Marimekko and acknowledged Mike and Josie Cotzas in the audience, as the owners of Marimekko Kiitos store in Manhattan.

Tapani Kansa, the most beloved Finnish singer and entertainer, made his second appearance at this annual dinner dance. He sang to the music provided by the Alex Donner Band. Tapani Kansa has had enduring success and popularity ever since his big career breakthrough release of the song Deliah, which he sang to the absolute delight of the audience.

The Honorable Kirsti Lintonen, the Ambassador of Finland to the United Nations, extended greetings to the audience and helped select the raffle prize winners. She has completed her “tour of duty” and will be returning to Finland.

Toward the end of the evening’s festivities a series of prizes were raffled off. The top prize, an SAS round trip to Helsinki, was won by Anne Sirvio, the wife of Arto Sirvio, the Director and Treasurer of Nokia, in White Plains. Additional raffle prizes were two economy class tickets for two to any Icelandair Scandinavian destination, Viking Line Cruise for two from Helsinki to Stockholm, Watercolor painting by Artist Irene Aunio, Marimekko tablecloths and napkins, Polar Electro heart monitors, iittala Aalto vases, Restaurant Smorgas dinner and lunch vouchers, Posters of the Pori Jazz Festival by Charles Fazino, and a painting by Ezzat Mousa. Complimentary Lumene product gift bags were given to each attendee.

Robert Alan Saasto, Esq.

FALA members attending with Mrs. Kirsti Lintonen as the Ambassador from Finland to United Nations and Consul General Ritva Jolkkonen.  Tapani Kansa performing, a Finnish popular singer with a
distinguished career. 
The new Consul General from
Finland to NY Ritva Jolkkonen
with FALA President Robert Saasto.
Arto Sirvio, Director Treasurer at
Nokia in White Plains, NY, with
Mr. Robert Saasto.