SAN DIEGO — 'Tis the season, all right, and with a vengeance, as anyone who has ventured even the most tentative of toes onto the social circuit recently knows only too well.
Christmas trees have sprung up like weeds in ballrooms around the county, to the point that one fears turning green at the sight of another lavishly decorated pine. Carolers have been in full voice, aggressive poinsettias have jostled the unwary off dance floors, mistletoe has made for some merry meetings and, all in all, it's been quite a season.
The Candlelight Ball, the annual tradition that formerly introduced the holidays but has been beaten out of the gate in recent years by several newer fund-raisers, nonetheless served to make the arrival of the season official the other night when it bathed 520 Scripps Memorial Hospital-La Jolla supporters in the cheery glow of an equal number of candles.
Given Dec. 5 in the ballroom of the La Jolla Marriott, "Fete de la Lumiere" ("Feast of the Light") infused its guests with a seasonal joie de vivre while raising more than $60,000 for the hospital's Trauma Center, chosen by the ball-sponsoring Scripps Memorial Auxiliary as this year's beneficiary. The guest list numbered many who have made the ball a regular entry on their December schedules for half or more of its 58 years and included others who repeated roles they have played, among them chairman Kay Hopkins, who also chaired the 1981 Candlelight Ball.
Lots of Warm Feelings
"I've always felt that the Candlelight Ball is a real community ball that generates lots of warm feelings," said Hopkins, who noted that the Candlelight is the second oldest social tradition in the county, superseded only by the annual Charity Ball given for the benefit of Children's Hospital and Health Center.
"I think it's the most elegant ball San Diego has to offer," added Hopkins' co-chairman, Eileen Bugbee.
Arriving guests were flung into the holiday spirit well before they hit the ballroom; the Crusader Bell Choir manufactured echoes in the Marriott lobby when it rang out carefully harmonized carols that cheered the party-goers as they headed upstairs.
More music waited in the ballroom--which, thanks to the almost exclusive use of candlelight, had a golden glow, as if it had been basted with melted butter--where the robed Evans School Ensemble sang to an audience that included more than a few parents. The music continued after the dinner of squab salad, veal tenderloin and chocolate Bavarian cream when Lew Malin and his Sounds of Music invited the guests onto the dance floor.
The guest list included Auxiliary President Gingie Hunstead and her husband, the Rev. Gary Hunstead; hospital President Brent Eastman and his wife, Sarita; Scripps Memorial benefactor Marianne McDonald with Adrian Jaffer; Frances Burgar with Randall Phillips; Georgia Borthwick with Tom Fleming; Jeanne Jones with Scripps Memorial Foundation director James Bowers; Barbara and Martin Fricke; Connie and Vincent Galluzzi; Carol and Harold Shively; Kris and William Halsey; Eva Hough; and Gail and Chuck Conners.
RANCHO BERNARDO--Described by its organizers as the Escondido soiree of the year, the annual Christmas Tree Lane has become such a hit that it has evolved into a trio of events spread over two days.
This year, a total of some 1,000 guests attended either the Dec. 4 brunch fashion show, the luncheon that followed the same day, or the Dec. 5 gala dinner dance. All three were held in the Bernardo Ballroom at the Rancho Bernardo Inn, and because of a wedding reception given between the Friday luncheon and the Saturday gala, it meant that the committee had to mount the intricate decorations twice.
Given for the benefit of the Boys and Girls Club of Escondido and themed "Heavenly Holidays," Christmas Tree Lane netted some $40,000, much of it from raffle tickets sold on the 14 extravagantly decorated trees that lined the walkway to the ballroom and gave the event its name. All the trees also sheltered heaps of gifts, which along with the trees would be delivered to winners' homes the morning after the party.
Grand and Traditional
Underwritten by Escondido businesses and individuals and designed by some of North County's top decorators, the trees ranged from the grand to the traditional to the clever; in the latter category would-be decorator Kathleen Horwath's "Chile Colorado," which decked a pudgy spruce with chile pepper-shaped bulbs and bouquets of brightly colored Indian corn. But the most popular, as always, was the tree called "All is Calm, All is Bright," since a package bearing $1,000 in cash sat at its base.
The event was co-chaired by Ruth Mangrum and the aptly named Susie Snow, who spent a last minute in the ballroom straightening the gilded angel centerpieces just before the doors were thrown open to the gala guests.