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The Crowd: South Coast Plaza ushers in Year of the Dog celebration

The Crowd: South Coast Plaza ushers in Year of the Dog celebration
Sabrina Azadi, bottom left, and Suzan Sadeghi, bottom right, take a photo with a model holding a Yorkshire terrier during South Coast Plaza’s 2018 Lunar New Year celebration, The Year of the Dog, on Tuesday night. (Kevin Chang / Daily Pilot)

It's the Year of the Dog and given the fact that dogs are considered family members — sometimes even adored more than spouses and certain children — 2018 should be quite a year indeed.

Yes, we have indeed gone "to the dogs" and plenty of people are just fine with that. After all, dogs don't talk back, nor do they belong to any particular political affiliation.

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The grandest "Doggy" celebration in honor of the Lunar New Year will unfold at the iconic South Coast Plaza, Costa Mesa. Kicking off Tuesday evening and running through March 4, a major line-up of events marking the Lunar New Year are planned. It is the largest celebration of its kind at any retail/dining and entertainment center on the West Coast.

As South Coast Plaza tradition dictates, the centerpiece of the Lunar New Year nod is a spectacular artistic display depicting eight dogs and a moon gate in a magical Asian garden sprinkled with gold coins and ingots symbolizing good fortune. Above the garden a fire cracker floats in limbo.

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Anne Shih, Bowers Museum board chairwoman, and Debra Gunn Downing, executive director of marketing at South Coast Plaza, during the Year of the Dog Lunar New Year celebration at South Coast Plaza.
Anne Shih, Bowers Museum board chairwoman, and Debra Gunn Downing, executive director of marketing at South Coast Plaza, during the Year of the Dog Lunar New Year celebration at South Coast Plaza. (Photo by Ryan Miller / Capture Imaging)

In addition to the garden on view for all to experience, an art exhibit of 12 exquisite papier-mâché dogs created by LIULI Crystal will be on display throughout South Coast Plaza.

On Tuesday evening, more than 1,000 guests arrived at Jewel Court, South Coast Plaza for an opening night cocktail and dining reception catered by the mega popular Din Tai Fung.

Performers from the Hanan Provincial Song and Dance Theatre wowed the overflow crowd. Joining South Coast Plaza executives in the celebration were dignitaries from the Chinese Consul General's office in Los Angeles, representing the People's Republic of China. A private dinner for VIP guests was held in AnQi following the opening night revelry in Jewel Court.

A milestone for Olive Crest

Olive Crest'€™s Executive Director of Development Tim Bauer, Kerri Dunkelberger, executive director of Olive Crest O.C. region, Melinda and Ruben who adopted their son through Olive Crest and honoree Orange County Superior Court Judge Dennis Keough.
Olive Crest'€™s Executive Director of Development Tim Bauer, Kerri Dunkelberger, executive director of Olive Crest O.C. region, Melinda and Ruben who adopted their son through Olive Crest and honoree Orange County Superior Court Judge Dennis Keough. (Photo by Katya Williams)

The State of California has the largest population of foster children numbering over 56,000. The numbers are daunting and they continue to grow.

In Orange County, an agency known as Olive Crest, announced a serious accomplishment in relation to such statistics.

Since its inception in 1973 Olive Crest has facilitated 2,500 adoptions rescuing many abused and neglected children as well as helping countless families in crisis. The organization's mantra is simply "One Life at a Time." And their goal is to provide foster kids the chance to be adopted into a safe and loving "forever" home.

Olive Crest advocates, donors and friends came together for the annual "Power of One" event held at The Grove of Anaheim over the holidays. The capacity turn-out, welcomed by Donald Verleur, CEO of Olive Crest, included Dan Schlotham, chairman of the board, and Steve Bernardy, O.C. president of the group, who all applauded enthusiastically over the milestone news.

Kerri Dunkelberger, Olive Crest executive director of the O.C. Region said: "It just takes one person, one family, one vision, one moment, one idea, one investment and one passion to change everything for one child."

Honored guests and sponsors at the annual event included O.C. Superior Court Judge Dennis Keough, Kappa Delta San Diego, Friends Church of Yorba Linda and PAAMCO.

Tim Bauer, executive director of development said: "These honorees represent the very best and outstanding examples of the personal power each of us has to change the lives of these kids."

On a week-in, week-out basis for 45 years, Olive Crest serves some 3,500 children and families each day throughout California, Nevada and the Pacific Northwest.

For more information, visit olivecrest.org.

In other significant child welfare news

President of Adoption Guild Chris Garber and Pam Fossier past president.
President of Adoption Guild Chris Garber and Pam Fossier past president. (Courtesy of the Adoption Guild)

Newport Beach Country Club will welcome the ardent supporters of the Adoption Guild of Southern Orange County, a financial auxiliary of the Holy Family Services Adoption and Foster Care Agency, for the annual Adoption Guild Patroness Spring Luncheon March 2nd.

Some 250 donors are anticipated to converge for the fashionable afternoon unfolding in the ocean-view ballroom of the handsome new clubhouse.

And speaking of fashion, Orange County design icons Marie Gray and her daughter Kelly Gray representing their design house Grayse will produce a fashion show of their spring collection which puts emphasis on a modern sensibility over classic luxury separates.

Prior to the luncheon and the fashion presentation, the crowd will be treated to a cocktail and hors d'oeuvres reception featuring a shopping extravaganza offered by merchants selling their artistic wares and helping to fill the Adoption Guild donation tally.

Chaired by Christine Johnson and Maria Zucht, the lively affair is also created around a series of 25 raffle prices that will be awarded over the course of the luncheon event, creating an atmosphere of added fun and excitement for each winning recipient.

Founded in 1949 by Dolores Hope, the late wife of the late and legendary Bob Hope, from a mission created by their own adoption of two children.

Dolores Hope is remembered for stating: "Bob and I wanted to set in place an organization where birth parents considering adoption could receive lifelong counseling in a trusting unbiased environment in order to make the best choices for their child."

Some last-minute tickets to the Patroness Luncheon may still be available.

To join the celebration and to learn more, visit www.adoptionguild.org or for tickets go to eventbrite.com, adoptionguild2018 Patroness luncheon.

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

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