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David Nelson / Society

This Suspense-Packed Party Gave Proof It Was Really Going Places

September 10, 1987|DAVID NELSON

SAN DIEGO — The garage at the Wateridge office development in Sorrento Valley bristled with the expensive toys favored by the Pepsi Generation.

BMWs competed for the choicest parking stalls with Mercedes-Benzes, Jaguars and even the odd Cadillac, but what was most interesting about these cars was not, for a change, their hood ornaments, or even their carefully composed personalized license plates.

Almost every vehicle carried a secret cargo hidden in the trunk, away from prying eyes that might notice a ragged teddy bear or mismatched pair of jammies. Also in plentiful supply were such items of weekend getaway gear as bathing suits, shorts, Hawaiian shirts, toothbrushes, shell necklaces, beach sandals, sun block and sleazy detective novels.

Most suitcases went home the way they came--their neatly packed contents undisturbed, that is--but others proved quite useful to 16 of the approximately 700 guests who attended the San Diego League's lively "Island Fantasy Suitcase Party."

The entertaining and on the whole quite novel idea behind this event last week was that several fortunate guests would leave the party early, bound for the airport and a flight to a sun-splashed vacation spot for a Labor Day weekend holiday. The event earned $10,000 for its beneficiaries, a pair of local children's charities.

The grand prize promised the winner and spouse or chum a flight to Hawaii for a quick stay in Waikiki, and even included leis and an invitation to a luau. Other prize destinations were Monterey, San Francisco and Las Vegas, as well as weekends at various San Diego hotels.

The "suitcase fantasy" theme was the work of chairman Kimberlee O'Maley, who helped plan similar events during her college days.

Spontaneity was the name of the game. Prize drawings took place periodically during the course of the evening, and a pair of limousines waited outside to whirl winners away to Lindbergh Field. Reluctant winners were not allowed to back out; party planners made up a list of potential difficulties that might give winners second thoughts, and developed contingency plans to meet them. For example, several nannies at the Naturally Nannies child care agency sat by a hot line and waited for directions to the home of any trip winner who had children.

Those with pets were assured that their furry friends would be taken to "Club Pet," the temporary nickname given the Helen Woodward Center, an animal education and care center in Rancho Santa Fe. (The Woodward Center, which offers a therapeutic horseback riding program for handicapped children, was one of the event's two beneficiaries; funds will be used to provide scholarships for children hoping to participate in the riding program. The other beneficiary, Lakeside's Home of Guiding Hands, will use its share of the proceeds to begin repairs to its swimming pool, which is used for physical therapy by many of the home's residents.)

Guests who did not get to fly off to a tropical destination were encouraged to picture themselves already in one. The "island evening wear" dress code brought a host of flowered dresses matched by orchids tucked behind ears, a sartorial display to which most men responded with Hawaiian shirts and conspicuous consumption of mai tais (definitely the beverage of the evening).

The guest list reflected the fact that the San Diego League was founded in 1983 as a fund-raising association for younger members of the city's business and professional communities. The league earmarks proceeds from all of its fund-raisers, including the mammoth annual New Year's Eve masquerade party given at Horton Plaza, for childrens' charities, and has distributed $450,000 to date.

Gabriele Greene and Tom Crews served as co-chairs of a committee that included Amy Andersen, Annamarie Fillipone, Jill Pederson, Greg and Kim Anton, Thora Gapp, Colleen Perry, Jeff Platt, Marti Gellens, Don and Sheri Joseph, Shelly Becker, Rob Cameron, Chris Byrd, Becky Rader and Michael Kinkelaar.

Among those attending were Carol and Ned Baumer, Werner Kurn, Shannon and Rocky Rockcastle, Gordon and Devon Tudor, Tom Turner, Dee Walsh, Michelle Moomaw, Lorna Christensen, Brian Luscomb, Paula Crews, Miriam Patterson, Terri Dixson and Shelly Riser.

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