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Clowning Around Pays Off for CHOC

April 07, 1993|KATHRYN BOLD

The circus came to town last week when the Guilds of the Children's Hospital of Orange County staged "Under the Big Top," their 31st annual Fashion Show Extravaganza.

Due to its popularity, the guilds' show was staged three times--at luncheons Thursday and Friday and a Grand Finale dinner-dance Friday night--drawing a total of 3,200 guests to the Anaheim Marriott. All together, the $50-per-person luncheons and $100-per-person dinner raised about $175,000 for CHOC.

Clowning Around

"It's a real circus we have here--and it starts the minute you walk through the door," said Susan Carter, chairwoman of the Grand Finale.

Guests were greeted at all three events by clowns who made balloon animals, danced on stilts and played ring toss with willing participants. For the Grand Finale, which attracted a smaller crowd of 300, organizers added circus-themed glitz.

"The decor is out of this world," Carter said. "It's an elegant circus."

Throughout the ballroom stood massive sculptures, one of an iridescent papier-mache tiger and another of a colorful clown holding hundreds of balloons.

On tables spread with gold metallic cloths stood towering columns that held bouquets of fresh flowers. Boxes of animal crackers served as party favors--but most were never opened. Guests were too busy enjoying a gourmet dinner of consomme en croute (the crusts adorned with circus animals), petite filet with bearnaise sauce and lamb chop with mint sauce, and an elaborate chocolate surprise: a miniature circus made of three rings of chocolate mousse and circus animals of solid dark chocolate.

Trainers, Lion Tamers

The fashion show staged by Carlton Burnett was a circus in itself. Led by a ringmaster and a cast of 50 performers, it featured ongoing sideshows of juggling clowns, acrobats, a snake charmer and small children dressed as puppy dogs who performed circus tricks.

Models, who sometimes had to sidestep the performers, showed off spring dresses, skimpy swimsuits, crisp blazers and slinky evening dresses from Alex Sebastian/Alex Sport, Ducks and Company, Mi Place and Mykonos.

"CHOC gave us the most wonderful theme to work with," Burnett said.

Jean Hamann, general chairwoman of the fashion show, came up with the circus idea five years ago. (Under the guilds' rotation system, advisory board members know years in advance when they will chair the event.)

"What better way to bring out the child in all of us than to have a circus?" Hamann asked.

Proceeds will go to the CHOC Ambulatory Care Center outpatient clinic.

Among the guests were: Thomas Penn Jones, president and CEO of CHOC, and his wife, Karen; young CHOC patients Melissa Williams, Heather Stevens and Teresa Kenny; and hospital supporters Don and Marilyn Bailey; Sylvia Burnett; Pat Calderone; Charles Hester, board chairman, and his wife, Nora; Lula Hatfield; Andrea Northcote; Fran Paulson and her son and ringmaster, David Paulson; Sharron Ribacchi; Beverly Singer; Frances Stawicki; Harold and Helen Wade, and Helen Wardner.

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