After learning that a fog machine was temporarily on the blink, co-chairman Daphne Peaker said she was afraid guests were going to re-dub Saturday night's "London Through the Looking Glass" benefit "a bloody mess!"
But all went well when Peaker took the stage at the Alicante Princess Hotel in Garden Grove to narrate the Mystick Krewe of Komus' annual Mardi Gras Ball pageant. The event benefited the Orange County Regional Center for the Mentally and Physcially Handicapped.
Addressing an audience of 200, Peaker, gowned in black chiffon with silver sparkles, called the affair "a night when all of you get to become honorary Londoners. A night when I hope you'll forgive me if I get choked up talking about the city I love."
Peaker told guests her gown symbolized London's "pearly queens," the poor Cockney women who, because they didn't have fine jewels, sewed pearlized buttons to their dresses.
During the reception, the Orange resident explained that she was born in Pennington, England. "And during World War II, I worked on one of those," she said, pointing at a replica of a double-decker bus. "I was a conductress, a clippie. They called us clippies because we clipped all the tickets we sold. I remember working 16 hours a day, even when bombs were dropping."
With Peaker providing the narrative, members of the Krewe of Komus, a social club founded in Garden Grove 26 years ago, took the stage in costumes depicting the "heart and spirit of London." London theater was represented by Maxine Neu, gowned in black and white sequins symbolizing the masks of comedy and tragedy. The ale sold in British pubs was evoked by Marie Miller amber colored gown. Her headdress resembled the beverage's bubbly foam. Covent Gardens was depicted by Flora Olson, who wore a bonnet smothered with satin rosettes. Wearing slinky orange lame, Valerie Bedard portrayed the mistress of King Charles II. And while hoots and whistles and adoring applause followed all stage appearances, a man jumped from the audience to bestow a kiss upon Marilyn Cashman, who portrayed the "mighty River Thames." Cashman wore a headdress depicting the swans that float on the Thames at Windsor.
Highlighting the pageant was the presentation of its queen, Betty Smith, and its king, Dr. Robert Neu. Preceded by gusts of stage fog, the couple entered the ballroom to a sound track that featured the chimes of Big Ben, the voice of Winston Churchill, air raid sirens and the sound of exploding bombs.
Daphne Peaker's husband, Bill, was co-chairman of the pageant.
The group was founded by Dr. Harmon Ward. In 1986, the group donated $1,500 to the center. This year's proceeds are as yet untallied.