Proving that country-western attire doesn't have to mean blue jeans and plaid shirts, party-goers donned fancy black-tie duds for "Sequins, Spurs & Smiles," the eighth annual Olive Crest Black & White Ball.
About 450 guests, many wearing cowboy hats and tuxedos, attended the gala at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim on Saturday. The $250-per-person benefit was expected to net $140,000 for the Olive Crest Abused Children's Foundation, which provides homes and services for abused children.
Down-Home Style Goes Upscale
If Helen Baddon, event cochairwoman, had any doubts that the combination black-tie and country-western theme wouldn't fly, they were gone by the preparty VIP reception.
"This is real upscale country-western. Jeans aren't allowed tonight," Baddon said.
Guests mingled inside the Marina Tower Suite wearing their version of glitzed-out western wear. Urban cowboys favored bolo ties, black hats with silver conches and even snakeskin boots with their black tuxedos. Many of the women sported evening gowns with western touches such as silver spangles, beaded fringe and metal studs--a kind of Joan Collins-meets-Dr. Quinn look.
One guest who shined without help of sequins or glitter: Juice Newton, ever the country-western waif, who turned up for the VIP party in black high-tops, a short gray dress and black blazer.
"It's important that the entertainment business, which has a long arm, reaches out to let people know that we know what they're doing" to help others, Newton said. "I call this honor work."
Newton later entertained the crowd with a kind of unplugged version of hits like "Angel of the Morning" and "Queen of Hearts."
Actor Perry King, national spokesman for Olive Crest, was instantly recognized by fans of "Melrose Place":
"I fell off a boat and died," he said of his character's untimely demise.
Gary Coleman, former star of "Diff'rent Strokes," served as co-emcee with TV news reporter Vikki Vargas. He sported a large abalone bolo with his tux:
"My manager collects Southwestern art," he said.
To carry out their western theme, party planners swathed the stage of the hotel's Terrazo ballroom in silver streamers and planted small cacti illuminated with minilights on the center of each silver-covered table. Party favors--pewter bolo ties--graced every place setting.
"We wanted lots of sparkle," said Kathy McClister, event cochairwoman.
Dinner was hearty, but this was no country barbecue. The gourmet fare included brochettes of petit filet of beef, chicken with chile dressing and large prawns. The western-style dessert featured cowboy boots made of white and dark chocolate and small cowboy hats filled with Kirsh Bavarian Cream.
After Newton sang, guests ended the evening by line-dancing in their formal wear.
Olive Crest, based in Santa Ana, operates more than 20 residential homes, a private school and has more than 150 certified foster family homes serving children from Orange County, Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire. More than 500 children receive services each year.
"Olive Crest tries to re-create family life and break the cycle of abuse," King said.
Colette Farrell, a 28-year-old program graduate who lived in an Olive Crest group home from ages 14 to 18, spoke to the guests about her life. Once an abused child thrown out of her home at 13, she now works at an engineering firm in Newport Beach.
In a poem she read to the crowd, Farrell said: "You gave me a place to go where I didn't have to be abused every day, I began to smile and the scars began to fade."
Among the supporters were: Don and Lois Verleur, Olive Crest founders; Steve Pizula, president of the Orange County board of trustees; Mario and Diane Antoci, recipients of Olive Crest's Leadership Award; Darrel Anderson, board chairman, and his wife Marsha; Bert Blyleven and Bobby Grich, former Angels players; Chuck Dreyer, auctioneer; Todd Ewen, Mighty Duck hockey player; honorees Virginia Knott Bender, Tony Tavares, Ken Clark, Dick Marconi and Art Astor; and guests Betty Belden-Palmer, Mark Johnson, Rick and Nancy Muth, Ward and Margo Chamberlain, Leo and Leon Baroldi and Mary Ann Wells.