Orangewood Week is off and running.
Saturday morning, more than 2,000 participants peeled out and poured it on in 5K and 10K races at Fluor Recreation Park in Irvine. That evening, major sponsors and race organizers gathered at Zot Disco in the Irvine Hilton and Towers for a victory celebration.
The week of fund-raising activities continues with sales of oranges and volunteer recognition activities in an effort to raise $100,000 for the Orangewood Children's Home, Orange County's shelter for abused, neglected or abandoned children.
Twenty-five thousand oranges at $2 each are to be sold this week; some will go for more. Noting the expansion of the effort from last year's Orangewood Day, chairman James McNamara said he was pleased to see the idea of Orangewood Week "come to fruition."
McNamara said that he had already sold an orange to Gov. George Deukmejian for "a substantial amount" but refused to disclose the actual figure. "Mayor Bradley may get a hold of it and make a juicy story out of it," he quipped.
McNamara also declined to disclose his time in the 5K. "I finished," he said.
Orangewood board member Elizabeth Tierney--some call her "E.T."--ran the 5K with nine fellow members of the Orange County Grand Jury.
"I'm not a runner," Tierney said. "I hate running. I complain, I bitch, I cry. It hurts my ears, it hurts my legs. . . .
"When I heard about this run for Orangewood, I challenged each of my fellow grand jury members. I told the biggest lie. I said I run it all the time. 'It's a piece of cake,' I said, 'you can all handle it. I challenge every one of you.' They accepted. Well, I couldn't run half a mile six weeks ago. I started running four times a week."
Tierney turned in a time of 28:03; she said she found it disheartening to see one of the entrants in the walkers' race pass her. "He was going fast ," she noted .
Richard Ouellette, owner of the Newport Beach beauty salon of the same name, said he didn't give a hoot about times. "I just want the T-shirt," Ouellette said, adding that he had collected "about 40" shirts from his racing activities.
Other participants included KWIZ disc jockey Doug Rae, Fountain Valley Mayor Fred Voss and 70-year-old "Papa" Mac Crandall.
Steve Ortiz, 26, of Barstow registered a winning 30:26 in the 10K, during which intermittent rain cooled the racers. Triumphant in the 5K was Jose Amaya of Santa Ana, 32, with a time of 15:28; it was his first race in six months. Women's division winners were Kelly Babcock, 27, of Irvine, with 17:14 in the 5K, and Harolene Walters, 43, of El Toro, who ran the 10K in 37:48.
But the fastest times in both races--14:53 in the 5K and 29:25 in the 10K--were turned in by Bud Harris, 52, of Long Beach, who entered the wheelchair division. Harris, who lost the use of his legs 23 years ago in an auto accident, has been racing for eight years; he competes lying down and uses poles to propel himself.
Strutting their machismo on the sidelines were six FireFoxes (Orange County firefighters of 1986 pin-up fame), Smokey the Bear and the Orange County Orange. KYMS radio disc jockey Jaimee Mayberry broadcasted from the race site.
The races over, runners enjoyed a pancake breakfast cooked by the Kiwanis Club of Santa Ana and watched the finals of the Great A-Peel orange-peeling contest.
County Supervisor Bruce Nestande was among that contest's finalists savagely ripping at the fruit with teeth and fingernails. But Laguna Beach Councilman and former Mayor Dan Kenney broke his previous record of nine seconds to win the event in an astounding 8.13 seconds. According to informed sources, Kenney often gets the peel off in one piece.
Later, at the victory celebration, Orangewood Foundation Executive Director Bill Steiner proudly reported that he had sold an orange for $10,000 to La Casa, the Children's Assistance Support Auxiliary of the Orangewood Home.
Steiner was recently named to the foundation post after eight years working for the county at Albert Sitton Home and later at Orangewood. Foundation funding built the 170-bed hacienda-style shelter that replaced the Sitton Home in November.
"We're settled in (at the new home) now," Steiner reported, "and yes, we're full. One of my goals as foundation executive director will be to assist the county in recruiting foster families. If we could get additional foster families, there would be no need to build another Orangewood."
Steiner said he will also work on establishing a children's trust fund to support children in foster care and on broad child advocacy issues, not just those affecting children in the Orangewood home.
Among those enjoying Hilton-donated champagne and hors d'oeuvres at Zot were race director Kathleen Burke and Joe Pesci, property manager of Trammell Crow Co., which recently purchased the land on which the Fluor buildings and Recreation Park are located.