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The Crowd: Segerstrom Center debuts new plaza with ceremony and celebration dinner

Earlier this fall, the incredible Segerstrom Center for the Arts became even more incredible with the debut of the new Julianne and George Argyros Plaza and the Center for Dance and Innovation. A day-long ribbon cutting ceremony followed with performance vignettes entertained. Over 1,000 Orange County citizens turned out to explore the new experience.

Participants in the packed program included performances by South Coast Repertory actors, musicians from the Philharmonic Society, dancers from the American Ballet William J. Gillespie School, musicians from Pacific Symphony, singers from Men Alive Chorus and Pacific Chorale vocalists among others.

Designed by L.A. based-architect Michael Maltzan, the plaza features two stages with seating adjacent to a massive 60-foot fountain. Center programmers plan to hold up to 40 events and performances each year on the new stages.

Underwritten by a multi-million-dollar gift from Julianne and George Argyros and the Argyros Family Foundation, the Orange County crowd arrived to show their appreciation to the Argyros family for their ongoing philanthropy impacting every sector of the community. After a day of non-stop entertainment, food and family fun, Julianne, George, George Jr., Stephanie and Lisa Argyros along with extended family welcomed several hundred patrons of the arts associated with SCFTA for a wonderful fall dinner al fresco on the Plaza. The mood of the day shifted from festive and casual to a tad more elegant as the dinner crowd converged for cocktails at dusk, with a twilight dinner served at 7 p.m.

Celebrating the Argyros’ gift were community stand-outs Elizabeth Segerstrom, Anton and Jennifer Segerstrom, John and Toni Ginger, Mark and Carol Perry, Terry and Amy Dwyer, Bill Gillespie, Henry and Susan Samueli, Katrina Foley, Joyce Tucker and Diana Martin.

The fall/winter fundraising campaign produced by Angelitos de Oro, a volunteer auxiliary associated with Big Brothers Big Sisters, once again was executed in partnership with South Coast Plaza and their merchants, restaurateurs and specialty shops. The 2017 Angelitos de Oro Shopping Card attracted more than 9,000 holiday shoppers visiting more than 100 participating stores and restaurants at South Coast Plaza offering a 20% discount on behalf of Angelitos card holders.

The four-day shopping card event held in October kicked off with a “Preview Day” reception and luncheon held in South Coast Plaza’s Jewel Court. Co-chaired by Merrilee Harris and Catherine Sloan, the preview party welcomed some 300 women in support of Angelitos de Oro programs. Major backing for the event came from Debra Gunn Downing, executive director of marketing for SCP, Angelitos president Sherry Bilbeisi, and community activists, sponsors and co-chairs of the shopping card event Natalie Pickup and Georgina Jacobson. Addressing the luncheon crowd was Melissa Beck, CEO of Big Brothers Big Sisters.

Beck commented: “Thanks to events like the Angelitos card week, we are opening nine new ‘High School Bigs’ sites this academic year to match teen volunteers (High School Bigs) with nearly 200 elementary school students in need of a peer mentor.”

The kick-off reception for the annual shopping card days featured a fashion trend presentation showcasing fall/winter/holiday merchandise from iconic purveyors such as Bottega Veneta, Diane von Furstenberg, Escada, Intermix, Kate Spade, M Missoni, Oscar de la Renta, Red Valentino and Stuart Weitzman. Organizers report the shopping card event was one of the most successful ever. Proceeds from the purchase of the card, set at $60, help fund programs of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Orange County and the Inland Empire.

Spotted in the crowd were Marilyn Wooten, Bonnie Halfacre, Donna Schroeder, Jackie Glass, Christine Flowers, Catherine Sloan, Kimberlee Duncan and Lisa Retzlaff.

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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