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ANN CONWAY

LIFE ON THE PARTY CIRCUIT : Medieval Yuletide Fete Raises Research Funds--and Hopes

December 08, 1988|ANN CONWAY

'Tis always the season for fund raising in Orange County, the 27-city sprawl with the big heart.

But during the holidays, 'tis the reason behind the fund raising that is on the minds of people like Jackie O'Hara, chairwoman of the "Medieval Yuletide Feast" benefit staged by the Orange County Guild of the American Paralysis Assn.

O'Hara's son, Michael, 28, became a quadriplegic 7 years ago after an automobile accident. Since then, she has suffered the extreme anguish that comes with watching a child do battle with life under devastating circumstances.

But the American Paralysis Assn. gave her hope. Hope that someday Michael would walk.

"I volunteer for the APA because I believe that in the near future its researchers will find a cure for injuries of the neurosystem," said O'Hara, regal as a "lady of the court." "If I didn't believe that, I'd be working for another group."

About 200 guests were grateful Saturday that O'Hara and her co-chair, Sally Davis--fetching in a beaded gown--work for the association. In just 2 years, the gala has become one of Orange County's most lavish yuletide parties.

Groves of pine trees and flickering candelabra decorated the hall of St. Catherine's church in Laguna Beach. ("We love St. Catherine's because we can really make the hall into something out of the Renaissance," O'Hara said.) Tables were weighed down with gobs of greenery, plump red apples and succulent grapes. Performing on an endless red carpet were magicians, jugglers, belly dancers and gymnasts (the bash featured 4 solid hours of entertainment).

And as a dashing king and queen--Peggy and Steve Lloyd from La Jolla--presided, a roast pig was promenaded grandly about the hall before it was served to the hungry party-goers.

Proceeds were estimated at $22,000. Among the guests were national APA board member Bob Yant (who became a quadriplegic after a surfing accident in 1982), dressed as a monk, and Walter O'Hara, rakish as a cardinal.

The Chapman College All-Faiths Chapel was the reason for the ritzy benefit brunch sponsored by the Fashionables in Newport Beach on Saturday.

The event, annually a sellout (the Ritz bistro becomes so crowded one can hardly find the elbow-room to tip one's bubbly) features one of the season's most festive menus: cold poached Norwegian salmon with dill sauce; cucumbers vinaigrette with celery root remoulade and raspberry creme brulee (this so unutterably divine, some guests forgo champagne in order to devour it in good conscience).

On top of all of that, Billur Wallerich of Saks Fifth Avenue staged a glitzy holiday show that kept the Fashionables happy between courses.

Sandra Beigel of Newport Beach--ultrafashionable in white wool by Valentino--chaired the affair, and Judie and George Argyros, along with Charlene and Hans Prager, were honorary chairmen. The All-Faiths Chapel is in the college's new Argyros Learning Center.

Faces in the chic crowd: Mary Lou Hornsby, president of the Fashionables; Gayle and Robert Anderson; Lois Aldrin; Barbara Bowie; Betty Moss; Patty Brennan; Virginia Knott Bender; Susan Beechner; Peggy Cotton; Jack and Dori de Kruif; Maria Crutcher; Ileane Doolin; Shirlee and Bob Guggenheim, and Steve and Hedda Marosi (who, on behalf of Hans Prager, trotted a doggie bag brunch over to Annette Hurwitz, recovering from surgery at her Balboa Bay Club digs.)

More than 1,000 guests trekked through five of Laguna Beach's most stunning homes last weekend, chalking up $30,000 for the Chopin Chapter of the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center.

Kicking off "Christmas by the Sea" was a cocktail buffet held Thursday for the 25 members and their guests at the home of Lana and Dan Olmstead of Emerald Bay.

On the tour: the arty home of Eugene White, decorated for Christmas by Elizabeth Benefield; the French chateau of James Newkirk, decorated by Jerrol Cline and Brian Rogers; the traditional beachfront manse of Byron Tarnutzer, decorated by Randy Harmer of Miles Randolf; the high-tech house of Paul Milhous, decorated by Paul Ecke of the Black Iris and the redwood home of Richard Jahraus, decorated by Boat Canyon Blooms.

Joan Hobin and Diann Shirley were co-chairwomen. Karen Chesley is president of the Chopin chapter.

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