Crowd Gets Brunch and Time of Day

And you thought a diamond-studded Piaget was a status watch. Well, the Guilds of Childrens Hospital of Orange County have news for you.

The timepiece to sport on your wrist at their patron brunch Sunday was a “CHOCO the bear” watch. No diamond face. No fancy-schmancy band. Just an image of a grinning brown bear and a plain brown strap.

“I love mine,” said Carol Palermo, general chairwoman of CHOC’s upcoming “Island Dreams” fashion show. “The watches are a fund-raising idea of our Jack and Jill Guild.”

CHOCO the bear, the huggable and adorable mascot of Childrens Hospital of Orange County, was among the 350 guests who swept into the Center Club for the champagne-laced tribute to fashion show patrons.


But while most guests dined grandly on pyramids of fresh fruit and scrambled eggs heaped into pastry baskets, CHOCO typically went without. She (Dori Spydell) was just too busy hobnobbing.

“I love doing this,” she said after extending her paw to special guests Nora and Charles Hester. “It makes me happy.”

Not nearly as happy as CHOCO makes hospitalized children, or on this occasion, the Hesters.

“We’re thrilled to be here for the guilds,” said Charlie, beaming over his visit with the gadabout bear.


The Hesters--for years boosters of CHOC--will be its honored guests at a fund-raising dinner April 13. The event will crown the guilds’ three-part benefit, “Island Dreams,” which will also launch the hospital’s 25th anniversary celebration.

Deep background: In 1986, the guilds’ annual fashion show had become so popular that it was changed from a once-a-year affair to a back-to-back fund-raiser, an identical show staged 2 days in a row. “Last year, we had 1,500 guests each day,” Palermo said.

This year, the double fashion extravaganza, by Saks Fifth Avenue, will be staged at the Anaheim Marriott on April 12 and 13, but with something added: the same show plus the Hester tribute on the night of the 13th.

Will a tribute become an annual affair? “We’re going to wait and see,” said Jackie Powell, tribute-dinner chairwoman (and fashion show chairwoman in 1985). “We just felt we were ready to see what would happen with an evening show.”

The nighttime event will enable working women to attend, Powell explained. “And it’s also for couples. But a woman doesn’t need an escort to attend.”

Powell said that many women have indicated they will “double book"--attend one daytime show and the tribute to the Hesters.

Palermo said it was Charlie Hester who “fluffed up my pillows and propped me up” when the guilds’ board decided to implement the patron brunch a few years ago.

“I was patron chairman and he donated $5,000 and let us use his membership at the Center Club,” Palermo said. “The event has been a winner ever since. From this year’s patron drive, for example, we have already made $140,000 for CHOC.” The money is earmarked for the hospital’s Ambulatory Care Center, an outpatient facility designed to meet acute care and continuing treatment needs.


Patron event chairwomen were Susan Carter and Fran Paulson.

Principal sponsors of Island Dreams are the Fieldstone Co., the William Garwins and SensorMedics Corp. Major sponsors are Allergan Inc., the James Andreolis and TRW/Information Services Division in Orange. Diamond Circle patrons are Leo and Ruth Cook, Eddie Hopper Chevrolet, the Charles Hester Family Foundation, Koll Company and the Marvin Weisses.