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PARTY HOPPING

Arts Center Gala Honors Pioneer Guild Leaders

August 25, 1988|ANN CONWAY

They rolled out 330 feet of red carpet and struck up a 60-piece band for the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center on Aug. 17.

And then there were the tulips of champagne that guild members received, and the bronze medallions bestowed upon each of them by Center board and staff members, and the opening night performance of "Strike Up the Band," a show that includes, appropriately enough, the song "Hoping That Someday You Care."

The Guilds have cared--deeply--for a decade. And that was precisely what the celebration at the 2-year-old Performing Arts Center was all about.

"I sincerely believe (the Center) wouldn't be here if it weren't for the Guilds," said Guilds founder Georgia Spooner, eyes brimming with proud tears. "Because we didn't have any credibility then. The Orange County Music Center (as it was called in the early days) was just a group of people with an idea and a dream. We were able to make the dream come true for the county by spreading the word."

The word has been spread so well during the past 10 years that the fund-raising Guilds, now with 3,500 members, have been able to pour a staggering $4 million into the Center (nearly $1 million in the past two years alone.)

What kind of magic did Spooner weave in those early days? "She's a take-charge person," said her neighbor, Mary Raymond, who joined the first guild chapter. "She doesn't let someone else do the work. She gets in there with her arms and her feet."

A touching ceremony occurred before the majority of the guild members, after hearing a musical tribute by the Santa Ana Winds marching band, streamed into the Center to clink champagne glasses.

Center President Thomas R. Kendrick popped in early to personally bestow medallions (and kisses) on each of the guild chairwomen who have served during the past decade.

"Congratulations!" Kendrick told them as he drew the lei-like burgundy ribbons over their perfectly coifed heads.

"It's just like Hawaii!" exclaimed board member Floss Schumacher, watching from the sidelines.

And one by one, Spooner, guild chairwoman from 1978 to 1981; Betty Belden-Palmer, chairwoman from 1981 to 1983; Carol Wilken, 1983-1985; Pat Rowley, 1985-86; Ciel Woodman, 1987-88; and later, JoAnn Boswell, 1986-1987, and Shari Esayian, current chairwoman, all received the handsome tokens of appreciation. (Later they would be spotlighted in Segerstrom Hall.)

"Well, the glamour of this affair tonight makes you feel like it's opening night again," said Henry T. Segerstrom, chairman of the Center board, after he swept into the Center. "Did you hear the trumpets? They're just wonderful--a feeling of a gala is the proper spirit for a 10th anniversary celebration.

"The Guilds are the rock upon which we build our support. They are tremendous."

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