Halloween comes early thanks to Super Heroes

I never know where a story will take me, but the one September 2015 about the new Heroes Hall Veterans Museum underway at the OC Fair & Event Center, touched my heart.

Fair Board members championed this effort — my husband included — but Nick Berardino was the driving force behind Heroes Hall.

As a former marine and Vietnam veteran, he reminds us all, "Freedom isn't free."

After that interview, I was moved to volunteer and became a Heroes Hall Foundation board member.

I also was instrumental in creating the fundraising arm for the museum: the Super Heroes Guild.

For those unfamiliar with Heroes Hall, the museum is dedicated to veterans. Its exhibitions and programs will tell the stories of veterans from Orange County and elsewhere who participated in all wars.

All proceeds from Super Hero Guild events will support the museum's exhibitions and education programs that will serve an estimated 100,000 K-12 students annually through free tours and activities.

Heroes Hall will be dedicated on Veterans Day 2016 and open to the public early in 2017.

Tasked with creating the first major guild fundraising event for Heroes Hall — a Haunted Halloween Costume Gala with dinner, dancing, silent auction, costume contest and scary fun — seemed fun and timing appropriate.

Thus, on Oct 22, Halloween is coming early to the OC Fair and Event Center, thanks to the Super Heroes.

Heading the team creating this haunted experience is Mark Enter from Mirage Entertainment, a worldwide live entertainment company with clients, including Universal, Disney, Warner Brothers, Olympics and Marvel Comics.

Pat Kennedy, owner of Ivy League Plants and Holiday Magic agreed to lend her services. Kennedy's worked with me before on events and her creativity is inspiring.

And RWB Party Props, a leader in design and rental prop installations for productions for over 40 years in O.C.

This amazing design team needed no convincing, donating their efforts, and chose a "Sleepy Hollow" theme.

And the outpouring of love didn't stop there.

Rachel Maguire, owner of Newport Signs & Graphics, offered to help. Jeff Teller of Spectra quickly offered his company's catering services to provide an equally amazing dining experience for guests.

Barefoot Wine and Spirits donated support without blinking.

And Linda Fitzpatrick, owner of Nothing Bundt Cakes in Costa Mesa, jumped on board to provide desserts.

In fact, it was when I called to see if she would help here, that she shared the story she was one of the Cosby 58 working to end the statute of limitations laws on rape and felony sexual assault in California. (By the way, Senate Bill 813 was signed into law by Gov. Jerry Brown on Sept.28.)

Fair Board member Sandra Cervantes offered to co-chair the event with me, and Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel agreed to be our honorary chair.

"It's an honor to be part of this first Super Heroes Guild fundraiser for Orange County's Heroes Hall Veterans Museum at the OC Fairgrounds," Steel says. "I am very proud of our community's efforts to ensure the stories and sacrifices of our brave men and women are never forgotten."

This inaugural event will take place from 6-11p.m. Oct.22 in the OC Fair & Event Center Wine Garden.

"This festive event will be a wonderful time for everyone and a great way to remember and thank our veterans," Steel says. "I look forward to celebrating with everyone and to see the beautiful Heroes Hall when it's complete."

Cervantes and I agree that planning this event has been a labor of love.

In addition to the folks I've mentioned above, there is a core committee of helping friends, whom we can never properly thank.

Usually my column deals with politics in our town. I'm sharing the behind-the-scenes of planning the Haunted Halloween Gala because there's so much good in it.

And with so much anger and contention this campaign season, it's important to remember that doesn't define who we are as a county or a country.

During this effort I've seen labor unions step up, Republicans and Democrats from Orange County to Sacramento put aside their differences to approve funding through their various municipalities, to see this museum come to fruition.

With that in mind, Cervantes, Steel and I hope you'll don a costume and join with us for a good cause.

Exhume your inner child, ghoul or alter ego, and party like a Super Hero to honor the men and women who have served to protect our freedoms.

Tickets to the Super Heroes Haunted Halloween Costume Gala are $125 and include a one-year membership in the Super Heroes Guild. Sponsorship tables of 10 are also available, $2500.00.

Tickets may be purchased on-line at ocheroeshall.org/haunted-halloween-gala.

BARBARA VENEZIA lives in Newport Beach. She can be reached at bvontv1@gmail.com.

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