Downtown Children Get an Uptown Party Experience

Compiled by Kathleen Hendrix

The Sugar Plum Fairies, the dancing Mice and Soldiers, and Santa Claus all came out this holiday season to celebrate with 40 children, ages 2 to 5, from Para Los Ninos, a Skid Row agency serving underprivileged children in the downtown area. They celebrated not on Skid Row, but in great style at the Biltmore Hotel where the party included a sit-down lunch, dancing performed by the West Side Ballet Troupe and gifts from Santa and his hosts, helpers and providers--the Biltmore staff.

"This is the first time that the hotel has invited youngsters in for a Christmas party of this sort, " general manager Ed DeVries said, "and hopefully, this is the beginning of a Biltmore tradition."

Fancified Mules

From Diane Hunter of Pasadena, a director of the 3,000-member American Donkey and Mule Society in Denton, Tex., comes this word: On this, the 200th anniversary of mule breeding in America, for the first time there will be mule equestrian entries in the Rose Bowl parade.

"George Washington was not only the father of our country, he was the father of mule breeding," Hunter said. "He was given two jacks (male donkeys) by the king of Spain. One died making the crossing; the other, Royal Gift, survived," was bred with a horse and America has had mules ever after.

Champion donkey Black Bart, saddled in solid gold, will lead five pairs of mules in the parade entry, Hunter said, in all colors and styles. Not a one will be tied to the end of a plow.

Not that mules are strangers to the Rose Bowl. According to Hunter, "Mules built the Rose Bowl Stadium and Colorado Boulevard doing the initial grading and ground work. Now the modern mule is coming back, going down Colorado again. Except fancy."

Thinking Peace

Those interested in getting the new year off to a peaceful and early start might want to consider joining Eleanor Franklin, her colleagues at Unity-by-the-Sea in Santa Monica and about 300 million people all over the world in "thinking peace" at noon, Greenwich time, on Dec. 31, which happens to be 4 a.m. here.

As part of a worldwide World Peace Meditation planned by the Quartus Foundation in Texas, people are invited to come to Unity-by-the-Sea, 1245 4th St., at 2:45 a.m. A celebration of peace consciousness through song, dance and dissertation begins at 3, followed by an hour-long group meditation at 4.

Similar ceremonies will be going on around the world, Franklin said, including the lighting of 10,000 candles in Red Square in Moscow.

"Whether we gather at Unity-by-the-Sea or whether a person wakes up in his home at 4 a.m. and joins us in his thought, that doesn't matter. The important thing is mind power," she said. "It's very exciting. Energy is unlimited. We're only beginning to discover how important this is. When all over the world our minds are joined like this, who knows what will happen?"

For more information call Franklin at (213) 653-9719 or Unity-by-the-Sea at (213) 393-0213.

Teens Targeted

1. Acquired immune deficiency syndrome is hard to get.

2. To be safe, make some choices. If you're going to have sex, use a condom.

3. AIDS is caused by a virus, not by a person.

These are the three major points stressed in "Sex, Drugs & AIDS," an 18-minute film for teen-agers narrated by actress Rae Dawn Chong and produced by a nonprofit educational media corporation called ODN Productions. Oralee Wachter, the president of ODN, is the author also of "No More Secrets for Me," a best-selling book for children about child abuse.

At a screening of the film, AIDS researcher Dr. Mathilde Krim, co-chair of the American Foundation for AIDS Research, emphasized the importance of targeting a youthful audience. "The young people are the next round of victims of this infection," Krim said. Commenting on the way the film aims equally at young men and young women, she added, "There is no question. Women are as vulnerable (to AIDS) as men."

Currently in use by the health departments of at least 34 states, "Sex, Drugs & AIDS" is available in one-half-inch or three-quarter-inch videocassettes and will be in a 16mm format later this year. The film costs $325, and information may be obtained by contacting ODN Productions Inc., 74 Varick St., Suite 304, New York, N.Y. 10013.

As Krim pointed out, noting the urgency of the issue, "We are not talking morality. We are talking biology."

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