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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : With the Children Close to Their Hearts : Bear and balloon decor serves as a reminder of Orangewood, beneficiary of proceeds from the evening of dancing and comedy by Rich Little.

June 06, 1995|KATHRYN BOLD

Rich Little had them laughing, and the Wayne Foster Orchestra had them dancing, but it was the teddy bear centerpieces that stole the hearts of 450 guests attending the Orange Blossom Ball on Saturday at the Hyatt Regency Irvine.

Guests were invited to bid on the bears that decorated their gala tables. Proceeds of $41,000 from the "bid for bears" and the $300-per-person ticket sales helped net more than $100,000 for the Orangewood Children's Foundation. Proceeds will support the Orangewood Children's Home, an emergency shelter in Orange for abused, abandoned and neglected children.

Childish Ideas

"Put a little love in your hearts" was the gala theme chosen by Shirley Pepys, event chairwoman.

"We wanted the theme and the decor to be childlike and emotional," Pepys said. "That's why we chose bears and balloons for the decorations."

Towering bouquets of balloons floated above the tables. Bright pink and purple spotlights illuminated the ballroom. For dinner, guests were served a gourmet feast that included veal on a bed of cheese ravioli.

Guests crowded the dance floor, thanks to a rowdy song-and-dance performance by Jacqueline Foster Showdance. Foster and company had the crowd form a chorus line to kick to the tune of "New York, New York." To honor the children, the troupe performed songs from "The Lion King."

Giving Impressions

After dinner, Little took the stage, mimicking a host of personalities from Willie Nelson (with braids and bandanna) to Jack Nicholson.

As George Burns: "The other night I dreamed I was sitting next to God, and he sneezed. I didn't know what to say." (Little teased the audience for taking its time in getting that punch line).

Bob Dole: "Bill Clinton has been robbing this country blind for three years. Now it's my turn."

George Bush, describing former vice president Dan Quayle: "It takes him two hours to watch '60 Minutes.' "

Little was joined on stage by his wife and fellow impressionist Jeannette Markey, who sounded uncannily like Katharine Hepburn when playing opposite Little's Henry Fonda in an "On Golden Pond" spoof.

Raised Without a Family

Special guest Charlotte Lopez, former Miss Teen USA and a student at UC Irvine who was raised as a foster child in Vermont, reminded guests that children at Orangewood or in foster homes "can be somebodies."

"I always made the most of my situation. I'm proof that no matter who you are or what your situation, you can be what you want to be," said Lopez, 18, looking glamorous in a long black gown.

Guests also saw a film on the Orangewood Children's Home that featured excerpts from Lopez's interview with Diane Sawyer on the TV show "Turning Point" and footage of the Orangewood residents.

"Those kids have to be taken out of harm's way and be loved," said Mary Boyajian, event co-chairwoman. "Orangewood does that beautifully."

Among the guests were John Hagestad, chairman of the Orangewood foundation; David Schafer, emcee; Charles and Connie Axen; Wade and Susan Cable; William and Willa Dean Lyon; Dave Wilson; Frank and Jan Foster; Doug DeCinces; Bill and Sharon Wood; Stephanie Argyros; Bruce and Lisa Hughes; Linda Johnston; Allan and Jaci Songstad; Marty and Charlotte Stradtman; Don Vodra, and Hank and Kim Weeks.

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