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History in the Making

Supporters of Heritage Ball and Capistrano Pageant gather to plot strategy for events that celebrate neglected years from 1765 to 1865.

May 11, 1999|KATHRYN BOLD

The event: Planning party for the California Heritage Ball and the Capistrano Pageant, a two-day historical festival that will feature entertainment and exhibits. The cocktail reception, held last week at the Laguna Beach home of Linda and Harvey Smith, drew supporters and members of the Mission Pageant Foundation, which promotes and preserves early California history.

Dressed to the times: More than 60 guests gathered in the living room of the Smiths' modern home, built on a rocky point at Crystal Cove.

Foundation president Harvey Smith updated the group on plans for the ball (June 12) and the pageant (Aug. 27-28)--events that will celebrate local history from 1765 to 1865.

To get guests in the gala spirit, half a dozen participants wore period costumes created by Kim Frassett, pageant costume director.

"All the sewing I do is reproductions of historical costumes. I do a lot of research, especially to get the correct undergarments," Frassett said.

Guests were invited to purchase the costumes (corsets and all) to wear to the ball, which calls for black-tie or formal 18th and 19th century attire. They could then donate the costumes to the pageant.

History buffs: The Newport Beach-based Mission Pageant Foundation was formed to promote California history, particularly the period from the building of the missions to the Gold Rush. "We get plenty of coverage of the Gold Rush, but a lot of people don't know what happened before that," Harvey Smith said.

The foundation's honorary co-chairwoman, Joan Irvine Smith, got the idea to stage a historical festival at her ranch, the Oaks Blenheim Outdoor Showpark in San Juan Capistrano.

Quote: The show park is "a fabulous place for a pageant that focuses on the early settlement of California. The whole event will be a history lesson," she said.

A date with the past: The Capistrano Pageant will feature music, dance, comedy and historical-based dramas, including a reenactment of the 1812 earthquake that demolished Mission San Juan Capistrano's great stone church. Daylong exhibits and encampments with living history characters--representing the Spanish colonials, Native Americans, the Mexican army and others--will also be showcased.

Faces: Peggy Goldwater Clay, ball chairwoman; Anita Ziebe, foundation vice president; Gerald Miller; Leah Beal; Tom Facon; RJ Brandes; Eric Jessen; Jerry and Maralou Harrington; William Lusk; Steve Clugston; Prentice Taylor; Mary Jean Duran; and Betty Moss.

Bottom line: Tickets to the California Heritage Ball are $200 per person. Proceeds will be used to stage the pageant, with excess funds going to restoration of Mission San Juan Capistrano and history programs for Orange County schoolchildren.

Mark your calendar: The California Heritage Ball will be held June 12 at Pelican Hill Golf Club in Newport Beach. (949) 699-1989 or (949) 720-7005.

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