There were few strangers among the 450 Huntington Harbour Philharmonic Committee members and spouses attending the 23rd annual Grand Marshal Ball. In fact, Saturday night's event at the Anaheim Hilton seemed like a black-tie family affair.
According to its chairman, Yvonne Kelley, the ball is not a fund-raiser. Yet, of the 31 chapters of the Orange County Philharmonic Society, the Harbour Committee makes the largest donation: $75,000 was raised at the "Symphony of Lights" home and boat decorating competition held in December.
"We're almost as popular as the Rose Parade," Kelley said, noting that the chartered boats carry 3,000 spectators nightly for 10 nights. "Last year, a woman from Connecticut saw our parade on TV. She came to California to visit the Crystal Cathedral and to go on the cruise. We were sold out, but since she had traveled so far, we made room.
"We work together all year. Tonight is our fun time when we honor the competition's workers and winners."
Conversation buzzed with guesses as to which of four contenders--Ted Lawson, Court Prowell, Bernie Steinberg or Mike Stitzinger--would be selected grand marshal for 1986. Yvonne Kelley's husband, outgoing Grand Marshal Pat Kelley, announced Stitzinger as the winner. "May this year go as smoothly as those before," Kelley toasted.
'Came Close to Canceling'
But all was not so smooth during Kelley's reign. "On the very first night of the boat parade, the fog was so dense that I came close to canceling it," he recalled. "I decided to stay ready to go because there was so much effort and money involved. At that very moment, the fog lifted and the parade went on. Now that's the 'luck of the Irish.' "
Sue Hodgson, assistant ball chairman, noted that being selected grand marshal is "the greatest honor that can happen to a man in the group. It's the men who do the voting, and the women have nothing to do with it." Yet Yvonne Kelley admitted that to be selected a grand marshal, "a lot does depend on . . . how active his wife is on the committee."
Stitzinger's duties will include leading other captains and lieutenants in the boat parade during the house and boat judging and ensuring the safety of spectators as they wind through the narrow channels of the harbor.
Jane and Bayard Dod, the first residents to move into Huntington Harbour 23 years ago, take credit for initiating the parade. "We were asked to do something for the Philharmonic," Jane Dod said. "I said: 'Why not have a boat parade?' " Recalled her husband, By: "We had 12 boats, charged 50 cents apiece and turned in $6."