Mickey Mouse grinned, bowed, smooched proffered hands and otherwise behaved like a perfect gentlemouse at "History by Design," a benefit at South Coast Plaza on Sunday night.
But the mouse no one would mind having in his house uttered nary a squeak (he never does--something to do with maintaining his mousy image, you know).
If he had , he probably would have rolled those huge, fluttery eyes and roared: "It's a small world!"
It was a small world at the benefit, which raised $10,000 for the Historical and Cultural Foundation of Orange County, a group dedicated to preserving history and promoting cross-cultural understanding. More than 200 guests--some Anglo-Saxon, some Latino, some Vietnamese, some Japanese, some Chinese--huddled to watch the history of Orange County unfold in a beautiful fashion parade.
"Orange County today is a mosaic of cultural and ethnic heritages," said commentator Kevin Consey, director of the Newport Harbor Art Museum, as models in ethnic dress waltzed into the spotlight. "The Historical and Cultural Foundation presents representatives of our rich and diverse heritage that is our present and from which we will build our future."
And with that, representatives of Mexico, the Philippines, the military (Gen. Donald E.P. Miller of El Toro Marine Base), Scotland (with Marilyn Nielsen, wife of Irvine Co. Vice President Tom Nielsen, modeling a green Irvine tartan), South America, Spain, Thailand, Vietnam, Asia, China, Germany, Iran, Italy and Japan swept along a ramp to roaring applause.
The evening began at 7, giving guests the chance to get acquainted over cocktails and a generous buffet (we're talking tables almost sagging under the weight of three saucy pastas and other trendy fare, such as rosemary lemon chicken, duck-stuffed crepes, exotic cheeses and fruits).
At 8, guests rode the escalator down to the Jewel Court's first level and sat in white folding chairs to watch four tableaux (and the subsequent ethnic fashion show).
Scene 1 depicted the turn-of-the-century era of the legendary Madame Helena Modjeska, the actress who brought Shakespeare to the county. Other scenes portrayed county women in the Edwardian Era (in romantic, handmade, Sunday-in-the-park cottons); the era of World War I (when Huntington Beach women were the first in the county to join the Red Cross, Consey noted), and the Roaring '20s, when, Consey said, "Seal Beach grabbed the entertainment spotlight and continued to be the bright spot along the coast."
The event was co-chaired by Marilyn Nielsen and Olga Niebla. Committee members included honorary advisers Jim Sleeper, Barbara Milkovich and Margaret Key.
Among the guests: Elizabeth and Tom Tierney, Paul and Virginia Knott Bender, Catherine and Delane Thyen, Bernardo and Marg Yorba (who urged residents to remember in this, Orange County's centennial year, "the history here that is so wonderful and of which we are so proud"), Hal and Nora Lehman, Mary Lou and Scott Hornsby, Bettie and Arthur Webber, Susan Spurgeon, and Linda and Roy Lau.
While Mickey Mouse was busy turning South Coast Plaza into a nibble of the Magic Kingdom on Sunday night, the Volunteer Center Orange County-Central/South was busy making William and Willa Dean Lyon feel like a prince and princess.
The event began after sunset when about 600 guests gathered for a cocktail reception at the Ritz-Carlton's Monarch Bay courtyard. Welcoming guests was event chairman Richard Tripp. He is public relations director for the volunteer center, a United Way agency that serves as a bridge for concerned citizens and their neighbors in need.
After a dinner of breast of chicken and crab, the Lyons were presented with the Giving Is Living award for distinguished leadership in volunteerism.
Participating in the award presentation were beneficiaries of the Lyons' generosity: Father Michael Harris, founding principal of Santa Margarita High School; Buford Hill, Scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America; Norman Loats, president of the board of directors of the Assessment Treatment and Services Center; William Steiner, executive director of Orangewood Children's Foundation, and Timothy Strader, past president and chief executive officer of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.
Paul Salata was emcee. Proceeds to the center were estimated at $70,000.