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New Orleans Comes to Life in Newport

Nearly 500 guests knew they were headed in the right direction when they spotted a Bourbon Street sign in the lobby of the new Newport Beach Marriott tower.

There wasn’t a green signal, but the crowd attending the Cystic Fibrosis Investor’s Ball Saturday night was definitely on “go” from the start.

“Bourbon Street Beat,” the New Orleans theme selected by the Orange County Guild, was a night to enjoy Cajun food, bid on silent and live auction items and listen and dance to good jazz.

Renee West, chairwoman of the event, and her husband, Leland, donated the silver 1987 Jaguar XJ6 for the raffle.

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According to guild president Terry Miller, more than $162,000 was raised by the ball.

Watching the sixth game of the World Series between the Boston Red Sox and the New York Mets was second choice to the ballroom scene.

The Jerry Burns Jazz Band played Dixieland favorites during the early part of the evening, later turning over the musical duties to Barry Cole and the Sounds of Music.

Southern delicacies were served from the elaborate buffet table. Some were rabbit tenderloin, “poor man’s” jambalaya, oysters Bienville, Cajun popcorn, Louisiana roast beef, pasta, shrimp and more.

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“Are we having dinner tonight, too?” asked Don Zellner of Newport Beach.

Two Giant Screens

Yes, there was a dinner, and guests were reluctant to move to the ballroom until the television set was on in the reception area. They were happier when they saw the game televised on two giant screens in the ballroom.

During commercial breaks, the television screens showed videotapes of the guests dancing.

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Dinner, described as “A Culinary Tour of New Orleans’ Famous Restaurants,” featured specialties from two well-known New Orleans restaurants, K-Paul and Antoine’s. Authentic hurricane-shaped glasses flown in from Pat O’Brien’s for the berry dessert, waere washed afterward and taken home by the guests as souvenirs.

Following dinner, Renee West introduced Robert Dresing, president and chief executive officer of the National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation in Rockville, Md.

Together, they presented Cecilia Straub-Reubens with the 1986 Breath of Life Award.

Dresing, the father of a 20-year-old son afflicted with cystic fibrosis, called the fund-raiser “the premiere event of all that goes on for cystic fibrosis all over the country.”

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When his son was diagnosed as having the disease at the age of 18 months, Dresing was told that his son would not live past the age of 3.

“I just want to tell you that what we are doing (in the field of technology) is working, and we are finally seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Because of your support,” said Dresing, thanking the crowd, “my son will probably be on Social Security someday.”

The surprise of the evening occurred when a female guest started to walk across the dance floor.

Immediately, Cole’s orchestra struck up David Rose’s “The Stripper,” and the “mystery guest” began a striptease. She finished her number before Richard Hurwitz and Greg Devlin escorted her off the floor.

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Kathy Hurwitz, who happened to be walking across the stage at the same time, almost got involved in the act. “Egad,” Hurwitz cried, “I didn’t know she was on right now.”

Bids Urged

Having the attention of the crowd, Fritz Coleman, Channel 4 weatherman and volunteer auctioneer, urged the crowd to “make your decisions (on auction items) quick. We have money to make.”

Minimum bids were met, and most were exceeded.

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A few opportunity tickets for the car remained unsold. Michael Parker and Bill Lilley announced that they would match the money raised from the sale of the remaining tickets.

Buying the last four tickets (out of numbered sequence) were Lana and Gene Pace of Corona del Mar, who got the winning number, 0013.

The Orange County chapter of the National Conference of Christians and Jews bestowed Humanitarian Awards on Walter Gerken, chairman of the board of Pacific Mutual; Raymond Watson, vice chairman of the Irvine Co. board of directors, and Orange County arts activist Elaine Redfield at a 10th anniversary dinner Wednesday night at the Irvine Hilton.

Harlan Anderson, executive director of the Orange County chapter, said he was pleased with the attendance and the support of corporations and individuals who raised $60,000 for the organization.

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For the occasion, dinner chairman Ron Dominguez arranged entertainment by the All American Boys chorus, directed by Father Richard Coughlin.

Speaking for the national conference was James Roosevelt, former California representative in Congress, who attended with his wife, Mary. He was introduced by John Zaremba.

“These men are doing splendid work bringing together people of different religions to common meeting grounds. We are honoring people tonight who have believed in the impossible dream,” Roosevelt said.”

“The biggest thing we have going right now,” said David Carroll, co-chairman of the chapter, “is our first experiment that we are doing right now with UCI. “This year 60 high school students from Los Angeles and Orange County, who don’t know each other, will be together in a 10-day program. They will discuss all types of different world problems, discuss them, argue and find out it’s all right to have different opinions.”

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Goals Listed

The goals of NCCJ are to learn more about the nature of prejudices and discriminations so that adequate education and social changes can be made to eliminate ignorance about interracial and interreligious relationships.

Attending the dinner were Judy and Joe Rosener, Virginia and Paul Bender, Bruce Sumner, Orange County Supervisor Harriett Wieder and her husband, Irving, Eva Schneider, and Joanne and Gary Hunt.

The Braille Institute Auxiliary of Orange County joined the ranks of organizations holding early Christmas parties with a Sunday brunch at the Newport Beach Marriott.

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“Christmas in New York,” chaired by auxiliary founder Debbie Gray, attracted 200 guests for a fashion show, opportunity drawings and auction of decorated Christmas trees.

According to Gray, the event raised $17,000.

Kitty Leslie, fashion coordinator for Fashion Island, worked backstage helping models dress, as Jim and Gretchen Dale introduced the fashions to the audience.

Community leaders and children modeled throughout the show except for a grand finale of evening gowns which were modeled by professionals.

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The speaker, Ethel Winant, was introduced by Russell Kirbey, executive director of the Braille Institute in Los Angeles.

“Winant’s career was built around her ability to see,” said Kirbey. “She was the first woman vice president of CBS. She supervised the productions of ‘Playhouse 90,’ ‘Studio 1' and ‘Gunsmoke.’ ”

Among her many accolades were an Emmy, three Peabody awards and a Crystal award.

Unaided, Winant walked to the podium and captivated the audience with a description of her life and success in the theater world. “I could even get a table at Sardi’s,” she laughed.

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She told how her vision began to blur unexpectedly and how it eventually developed into macular degeneration. She was declared “legally blind.”

Now attending the Los Angeles Braille Institute five days a week, she credits the program with teaching her “how to live.”

“Not with my eyes,” she said, “but with my brain, ears, feet and hands.” Funds raised from the event will go toward a Christmas party for blind children in Orange County.


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