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LIFE ON THE PARTY CIRCUIT : 552 Club's Ball Has Buffets, Santa and Reminiscence

December 08, 1988|PAMELA MARIN | Pamela Marin is a regular contributor to Orange County Life

"I sat on Santa's lap, but he didn't ask me what I want for Christmas," said Kathleen Frink, as her husband, Emory, headed for the buffet tables.

The Frinks were among 225 couples at the Newport Beach Marriott on Saturday for the annual "Christmas Carol Ball" sponsored by the 552 Club, a support group for Hoag Memorial Hospital Presbyterian.

For $552 per couple, guests at this year's gala decked themselves in their holiday finest and indulged in cocktail-hour buffets loaded with caviar, smoked salmon, monkfish and steak tartar; got their pictures taken (with or without the rosy-cheeked Santa); then headed into a fir-lined dining room for dinner and dancing.

During the cocktail hour, 552 Club longtimers Jean and Robert Lucas and Phyllis and Gene Baum reminisced about Christmas Carol Balls of years gone by--smaller parties held at the Balboa Bay Club featuring a reading of "The Night Before Christmas" and crooner/band leader Harry Babbitt leading a carol sing-along.

Richard and Sandy Sewell talked about their role in selecting the band for the evening--a duty that took them up to Encino and back to Newport Beach one night to check out the candidates. They lobbied for the Music Connection, Richard said, in part to break with tradition.

"For years we've had big bands--playing what I call old-fogy music," he said. "We wanted to see what happened if we got a small, young dance band."

What happened was a crowded dance floor, as guests popped up for calorie-burning turns between courses.

The event, which was chaired by Barbara Glabman, netted an estimated $85,000, according to Valerie Lorenz, acting director of support groups for Hoag. Proceeds will go to the Patty and George Hoag Cancer Center, which is scheduled to open in 1990.

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