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Ann Conway

Lavish Buffet Benefits CHOC, Bowers

September 30, 1987|Ann Conway

While 500 women collectively stamped their feet in frustration, 500 men heaved a collective sigh of relief at the preview opening of the MainPlace/Santa Ana shopping center.

The shops were closed.

"Oh no, I packed my credit cards!" moaned one glitter-gowned supporter of Childrens Hospital of Orange County (CHOC), co-host of the benefit celebration with Bowers Museum of Santa Ana.

But there was culinary consolation for the born-to-shop set at Friday night's benefit. For the food extravaganza, guests followed a gray tile road to neon-lit food stations where they found: a French buffet of veggies piled high in country baskets; a Mexican buffet of tamales jetted in from Texas; an Italian buffet redolent with pasta drenched in basil sauce; a Japanese buffet heaped with so much sushi, sashimi and shrimp that one drop-jawed gentleman wondered aloud if they'd "bought out the world."

At another, there was an American buffet sizzling with New York strip steak and finally, a "Galaxy Dessert Table" smothered with otherworldly chocolates and pastries. (All that plus a see-you-later box of gold-wrapped Godiva chocolates for guests as they departed.)

Towering bouquets of white anthurium and orchids and pink torch ginger accented the mall's British-rail-station motif, highlighted with teal-blue park benches and glowing lampposts.

"The best part of this event has been watching the transformation of MainPlace," said co-chairwoman Bobbi Rach, a member of CHOC's Little Red Wagon Guild. "We literally had to wear hard hats when we started planning this. The workmen were wonderful looking, gorgeous!"

Rach became involved with CHOC when her daughter went into the hospital for diagnostic study. "The nurses and doctors were so wonderful, the toys so great, she didn't want to come home," she said. "I got involved after that. I love the fact that no patient is turned away for lack of funds. Anyone can bring a sick child to CHOC's outpatient clinic and not be asked for money first."

Benefit co-chairman Brenda Sodini--sporting a strapless black cocktail dress accented with a spray of gold leaves--first volunteered with CHOC when she moved to Tustin several years ago. "Everybody I met was involved with CHOC," said Sodini, a member of the hospital's Jack and Jill Guild. "It seemed like the right thing to do."

The $60-per-person affair netted estimated proceeds of $40,000 for CHOC's outpatient clinic through the sale of 800 tickets by CHOC's 14 women's guilds, and $10,000 for the Bower's Museum, which sold 200 tickets.

Among those attending were Bowers Museum Director Paul Piazza; Bowers' board members Fernando Niebla, Judy Fluor-Runels, Ruth Seigle, Michael Silvas and John Rau, as well as Howard Jones, president of CHOC's board of directors.

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