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R S V P / ORANGE COUNTY : Just Kidding Around at the Bowers

Celebration of the Family fund-raiser for Kidseum puts the focus on children. And they attend in droves.

February 13, 1996|KATHRYN BOLD

Parents usually leave the kids at home when attending charity galas, but on Saturday, children outnumbered adults at a benefit for the Bowers Kidseum in Santa Ana.

More than 200 guests--a few of them still in diapers--turned up for a Celebration of the Family, a night of choral music, storytelling, ballet and crafts staged by Carino por el Museo (Love/Affection for the Museum), an auxiliary that raises money for Kidseum. Children were admitted free, and adults paid $50 to attend the benefit, which was expected to net $15,000 for Kidseum, part of the Bowers Museum of Cultural Art.

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Ain't Misbehavin'

In keeping with the hands-on policy of Kidseum, young guests were free to explore their surroundings and play with the exhibits. They could try on vintage clothing, pound on African drums and other musical instruments, and play international games and make crafts.

"When I first came here, I kept telling the kids, 'Don't touch anything, don't touch anything.' It took me a while to get used to the idea that they're supposed to touch things here," said Valerie Kenney, who watched as her nephews tried on wigs and hats.

Paul Chiavatti looked on with amusement as his 4-year-old son Joseph tried on a dress.

"He's having a heck of a time," he said.

After meeting Minnie Mouse, listening to a storyteller and watching a puppet show, the families formed a procession to the nearby Bowers, following a mariachi band down a block-long path outlined by children dressed in traditional clothing from around the world and bearing colorful banners.

Inside the museum's corridors, party-goers lined up for a buffet prepared by the Bowers' Topaz Cafe that featured Caesar salad, penne pasta, chicken puttanesca and--for the kids--hamburgers.

After dinner they assembled in the Bowers' courtyard for a performance by the St. Joseph Ballet with the Biola University Gospel Choir, and the International Children's Choir, which performed with Marsha Hunt and led everyone in singing "Love in Any Language."

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Art for Kids

Kidseum opened about a year ago and provides arts and cultural activities to introduce children to the people and places of the Americas, Pacific Rim and Africa.

"It's interesting and fun," said Danielle Stow, age 10, who wandered from exhibit to exhibit with her 4-year-old brother Brett. "You can see what other people in the world do."

Activities such as storytelling, arts and crafts and puppet shows take place regularly at the Kidseum.

"We wanted to showcase what this benefit is for. Any time you walk in here, it's this noisy," said Patricia Korzec, director of the Kidseum.

Carino por el Museo, Kidseum's new volunteer support group, will use the benefit proceeds to sponsor free admission days to the Kidseum.

"Our mission is to provide access to everyone in the community," said Eileen Paulin, event chairwoman. "All of our kids come from such different backgrounds. They finally have a place to learn about other cultures."

Among the adults in attendance were Patricia House, Bowers Museum's vice president of programs and development; Sharon Furniss; Larry and Robin Kaplan; Sean and Cheril Hendry; Bruce and Pamela Nestande; Andrew and Annie Strenk; Melissa Eldredge; Jack and Mary Jane Schrader; Norbert and Mary Anne Mang; David and Ruth Seigle; John and Carole Van Houten; Karen Kenney Walsh; Ted and Janice Smith; Perry and Lois Secor; Chris Somogyi; Leiann Riggins; and Kelly Adams.

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