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Benjamin Epstein

Center's Supporters Gather Under Big Top

August 05, 1986|Benjamin Epstein

Some of the youngest supporters of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, their parents, grandparents and members of the Center's Arturo Toscanini Chapter gathered last week at the Anaheim Convention Center--"Under the Big Top."

"This generation will only last so long," noted chapter member Ruth Vanderloh with a chuckle. "The earlier we start the next one, the better."

In all, 500 children and children-at-heart turned out for a buffet and a performance of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus, the final local performance of which will take place tonight. According to "top clowns" Gaye Duncan and Barbara Reed--they were event co-chairmen--$12,000 was raised.

Chapter president Mary Bouas came up with the idea.

"Last year we held our event at South Coast Plaza," Bouas explained. "This year, the chapter members all said they didn't want to drive to Costa Mesa again. I said, 'Oh, you're not going to go to the Performing Arts Center when it opens?' (The Center has scheduled its first concert for Sept. 29.)

"Well, of course they're going. But they were right. We're Anaheim-based. This year-- opening year--we wanted to have something in Anaheim."

During the popcorn reception, Muffi Tait--her mother Sylvia Bula is a member of the chapter--painted the children's faces with designs often matching the prints on their clothes. Tait's husband, Roger, blew balloons in the shape of animals as per kids' requests; he seemed happiest with requests for snakes.

Drew Warner, 5, of Van Nuys, admired the circus wagon the group had used as a prop; inside was a life-size ceramic tiger. Informed that he'd see real tigers that evening, a wide-eyed Warner asked, "Will they chase us?"

Similar fears were realized for Amy Smith, 3, of Newport Beach, who vociferously protested the appearance of an ape during the buffet, despite her grandfather's assurances that it was all make-believe. The costumed simian bore birthday greetings for Cheri Jacobson, whose mother, Pat Jackson, is a Toscanini chapter patroness living in Newport Beach.

Hot dogs and hamburgers were served; most guests enjoyed hot dogs and hamburgers. Balloons and decorations in the Santa Ana Room were done in marvelously garish, primary circus colors. Centerpieces were salted-in-the-shell, "Two-Bagger" peanuts. Several chapter members, including Jane Liekhus, wore clown noses; Jeannie Blodgett wore her rhinestoned Center sweat shirt.

Enjoying the Lilov bears from Bulgaria, who did handstands on the parallel bars, the Shanghai Acrobatic Troupe from the People's Republic of China and "Plentitudes of Pachyderm Precision" after dinner were Anaheim Council members Miriam Kaywood and E. Llewellyn Overholt Jr., Center Guilds founder Georgia Spooner and immediate past Guilds chairman Pat Rowley.

According to Rowley, Robinson's South Coast Plaza has changed the date of its opening again; as it now stands, four Irvine-based chapters will open Robinson's on Oct. 24 and the Cabaret chapter will open the Broadway on Oct. 25, both benefits for the Center. She shared her concern over the overwhelming difficulty of scheduling the bevy of Center-related events this fall.

"To fit it all in, it's a three-ring circus," Rowley said.

Eight young women were presented at the eighth annual Les Amis des Femmes Debutante Ball, which took place Saturday night at The Westin South Coast Plaza.

More than 200 friends and relatives watched as Grif Duncan, general manager of the Fullerton Civic Light Opera, introduced Jennifer Darst, Colleen Kelly, Jennifer Eder, Julie Martin, Jill Gunter, Lisa Walsh, Ginger Heil and Pamela Witty.

Vi Jones is president of the Fullerton-based group that sponsored the event; according to ball chairman Verna Rongey, nearly $5,000 was raised for the Women's Transitional Living Center.

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