In a darkened ballroom at the Irvine Hilton & Towers on Saturday night, a spotlight sought out the colorful flags of 42 countries and their respective consuls general.
But "A Slice of Orange," the fourth annual Orange County Protocol Foundation ball, turned out to be more than a salute to the International Consular Corps. The white-tie gala also celebrated the county's advancement in international trade and the destination point it has become for visitors from all over the world.
A surprise highlight: Swedish Consul General Margareta Hegardt's announcement that the king and queen of Sweden will visit Orange County on April 27.
More than 400 guests paid $125 each to sip champagne and dine and dance among representatives from countries such as Australia, India, Spain, Korea and Venezuela.
Gala chairwoman Martha Fluor anticipated net proceeds of more than $35,000 to benefit the privately funded Orange County Office of Protocol.
Honorary chairmen Thomas Tierney and his wife, Elizabeth (in strapless white silk splashed with red and violet flowers), introduced members of the corps.
Mary Lou Hopkins Hornsby, president of the Protocol Foundation--a support group for the Office of Protocol--and Werner Escher--chairman of the Protocol Commission--welcomed guests before they dined on filet of salmon with Pernod sauce and orange and chocolate sorbet served up in a white chocolate shell.
Mary Bonino Jones, executive director of the Office of Protocol, said the office encourages international trade and investments and attempts to establish an international identity for the county. It also helps develop interaction between international leaders and the county's social and business communities.
After dinner, Harriett M. Wieder, chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors, declared: "I feel like a proud parent. My baby (the Office of Protocol was Wieder's idea) is not crawling anymore. It's standing upright."
Hegardt, dean of the Los Angeles Consular Corps, praised Orange County's "dynamism, vitality and feeling that anything is possible."
The International Children's Choir entertained before guests danced to the Norm Panto Orchestra.
Guests included Renee and Henry Segerstrom (who dined beside Hegardt), Ruth and Lock Gee Ding, Eva and Fred Schneider, Elinor and Clair Weeks, Robert Fluor, Irv Wieder and Emma Jane and County Supervisor Thomas Riley.