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Benjamin Epstein

Laughing It Up to Aid Children

June 10, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

There's something about Cannery Capers, an annual thieves' market staged by five auxiliaries of the Children's Home Society, that brings out the clown in people. Sunday's event, on and around the dock of the Cannery restaurant in Newport Beach, was no exception.

More than 600 supporters of the society enjoyed a performance by comedian Jason Chase, admired cloggers clogging to Western tunes and rock 'n' roll, had their colors done, watched an ice sculptor sweat over his frozen swan, partook of taquitos and a fish barbecue on land and dessert aboard yachts moored at the Cannery dock.

Some clowns were more obvious than others.

"I was once council president of Children's Home Society," admitted Pat Prickett, red-nosed and bespectacled, wearing a sailor cap and oversize shoes and carrying a dust broom. "But I took two courses at clown college, and look!"

Clown college?

"Absolutely," Prickett replied. "You just don't wake up in the morning and say, 'I'm a clown.' "

Colleen Linnehan of Garden Grove agreed. "Class of '82," she said of her clown education. Spontaneous and utterly disarming, Linnehan was formerly with the Ringling Bros. Circus.

Cannery owner and Newport Beach Chamber of Commerce president Bill Hamilton got in the act with his multicolored polka-dot pants. He was glad he wore them, he said, especially after he spilled salsa on himself. "Nobody could tell the difference." The restaurant and its suppliers paid for everything at the event; $15,000 was raised for society projects.

Many guests wore aluminum foil on their heads.

"They're called hats," explained Chris Karl, as he passed out his bizarre creations. "They liven up the party, don't they? A different hat for every person. I'm making a Stetson right now. We make Madonna, we make Carmen Miranda . . . you name it."

According to Karl, whose friends call him Syco, he began making foil hats for brunch cruises around Newport Harbor; he works on the yacht Isla Mujera. Among other parties he's recently livened up was one thrown in Los Angeles by Joan Rivers for Dudley Moore's birthday.

Though many think of Children's Home Society as an adoption agency, director Dorothy Fitzgerald says child care is its largest program.

"One day last week we had 95 calls, families trying to find child care for their children's summer needs," Fitzgerald said, adding that 20,000 calls were taken on the society's KID-CARE hot line last year.

Five auxiliaries--Las Damas (of which Hamilton's wife, Helen, is a member), Tiara de Ninos, Puerto de Luz, Las Pamitas and Mon Ami--collaborated on the Capers. Paulette Greenwald was event chairman with the Hamiltons.

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