Colorful international flags, consuls general in uniforms resplendent with medals and braid and their wives wearing gowns native to their respective countries mixed well with 300 formally dressed guests at the second annual Orange County Office of Protocol salute to the consular corps.
The black-tie event Thursday night at the Hotel Meridien in Newport Beach was somewhat more calm than last year's party, which coincided with the hotel's opening. This year it represented more of a confirmation of the establishment of the Protocol Office--a feat accomplished one year ago by the "mother of Protocol," Disneyland community affairs manager Mary Jones, whose aim it is to encourage cultural, educational, social and economic exchange between foreign nations and the sixth largest county in the United States.
John Phillip Sousa marches were played outside the hotel by the Laguna Hills High School Band. Robert Hackney's bagpipe playing signaled guests to be seated in the Deauville Room, after which chairman Tom Fuentes and Jack Gerken, chairman of the Protocol Advisory Committee, announced the name and country of each member of the consular corps as they entered.
To everyone's delight, Minnie and Mickey Mouse, ambassadors of good will throughout the world, made an entrance and strolled throughout the room shaking hands with the audience to the tune of "It's a Small World."
Commodore David C. Henley, who is naval aide to the governor of Nevada and who organized the Marine and consular corps processional into the dining room, noted that 10 countries were added to the consular corps roster this year. Colombia's Consul General Maria Eugenia Correa O. was not present because of the volcano eruption that struck her country the night before; a moment of silence was offered in tribute.
Guest speaker at the event, which netted $20,000 for the operation of the Protocol Office, was Laguna Niguel resident Bob Mathias, attending with his wife Gwen. A two-time Olympic champion, former Marine officer, movie and TV actor, network sports announcer and former congressman, Mathias is currently the director of the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs and executive director of the Laguna Niguel-based National Fitness Foundation.
Recalling his travels throughout the world for sports and politics, Mathias expressed great appreciation for the warmth shown him in other nations by the consular corps.
Warming to a favorite topic, Mathias said: "The Olympic Games provide the only opportunity for all the young people from all your countries to get to be in one place, at one time, in the spirit of sportsmanship."
He mentioned his dismay over former President Carter's decision to boycott the games in 1980 and his disappointment over Russia's decision not to come to the Los Angeles Games in 1984.
County Supervisor Harriett Wieder, who first recognized that Orange County was "coming of age" and who presented the idea of the Protocol Office to the Board of Supervisors, was honored with a crystal vase from the protocol committee. After a presentation of roses to Jones, supervisor Chairman Thomas F. Riley presented a proclamation from the board to the new dean of the consular corps, Consul General Andre C. Adam of Belgium. Responded Adam: "We (the corps) welcome the opportunity to improve our knowledge of one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States, the County of Orange. You have developed a quality of life which we all admire and, I must say, envy."
Barry Cole and the Sounds of Music entertained guests with an international repertory of songs that included Viennese waltzes. Cole's version of American soft rock proved more popular by the looks of the crowded dance floor.
The receiving line included Riley and his wife, Emma Jane; Fuentes and his wife, Jolene, and the Most Rev. Tomas A. Clavel, archbishop emeritus of Panama, who gave the invocation.