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This Is Month for a Host of Gala Benefits

Like the majority of workers in this county, the many who toil in the vineyards of fund-raising took Labor Day at face value by taking the weekend off.

Most presumably were resting up for the unusually heavy onslaught of benefits stacked high on the September calendar, a sort of smorgasbord of events so replete with choices that anyone who feels the need to go out and party for charity this month should have no trouble finding an affair tailored precisely to taste.

The seemingly limitless variety of September activities kicks off this weekend with a pair of benefits Saturday.

“A Taste of Old California,” designed to capture the flavor of the state in the pre-Gold Rush era, will be given by People for Pets as a joint benefit for the San Diego Humane Society and the local branch of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. To be given in the East County back country near Pine Valley, at hotelier Terry Brown’s Rancho Samataguma, the event will feature a gala wine tasting, buffet supper and dancing, as well as performances by mariachis, a barbershop quartet and a rock band. Casual or country attire is suggested. Tickets cost $91 per person for general admission at 5 p.m., or $111 per person for patrons, who will attend a private reception at 4 p.m. For further information or tickets, call the San Diego Humane Society.

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Also Saturday, downtown San Diego’s Bowery Theatre will observe the transition to its new name, the Blackfriars Theatre, by playing host to a Roaring Twenties casino night gala at the Kingston Hotel. Besides charity gaming, the event will feature the Tobacco Road jazz band, hors d’oeuvres and an auction of a deluxe vacation for two in Hong Kong. 1920s-style costumes are encouraged, but optional. The event commences at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $35 per person or $60 per couple in advance, and $40 per person at the door. For information, call the Bowery Theatre.

One of the two organizations that have scheduled fund-raisers for Friday the 13th has chosen to stare down the ill fortune normally associated with that date by mounting the “Dare to be Lucky Party,” a dance party to be given from 8 p.m. until 1:00 a.m. in the ballroom of the Hyatt Regency La Jolla. Proceeds will benefit Progress San Diego, a nonprofit organization that operates a pair of “youth diversion” programs in Logan Heights and Spring Valley; both programs are designed to keep youngsters at risk of criminal behavior or drug abuse out of trouble by providing counseling and activities. Tickets to the moderately priced dance cost $8 in advance or $13 at the door, and each ticket holder will receive a complimentary one-week pass to the Sporting Club fitness center adjacent to the hotel. Invitations specify “daring” or cocktail attire. For further information, call 466-7370.

The annual “Gourmet Summit” sponsored by Sharp Hospitals Foundation also will be given Friday the 13th. This third annual event will feature cooking demonstrations by chefs of the Health Care Division of Marriott Management Services, to be followed by a five-course French dinner accompanied by appropriate wines. Proceeds from the event, which will be given in the ballroom of the La Jolla Marriott hotel and will commence at 6:30 p.m., will benefit the Transitional Employment Program for brain injured patients at Sharp Memorial Hospital. The cost is $100 per person; for further information, telephone Sharp Hospitals Foundation at 541-3000.

On Sept. 14, the International Aerospace Hall of Fame in Balboa Park’s Aerospace Historical Center will benefit from an unusual investiture ceremony and black-tie dinner at the U.S. Grant hotel. Edgar Schmued, the airplane designer whose P-51 Mustang figured prominently in World War II air battles, and pioneering Swiss balloonists August and Jean Piccard--known for their discoveries about the nature of the stratosphere--will be inducted into the hall of fame. The trio, all of whom are deceased, was selected for the honor by an international committee of aerospace figures. Balloonists Richard Branson and Per Lindstrand, the first to cross the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in hot air balloons, will attend the dinner as guests of honor. The event, to which tickets cost $85 per person, will begin at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are available through the concierge desk at the U.S. Grant hotel. For further information, call 232-8322.

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Sept. 21 has been chosen as the date of three major fund-raisers, including the long-running East County perennial, the annual Buffalo Barbecue given at the sprawling Daley Ranch for the benefit of the Mission Valley YMCA. More than $1 million has been raised by the series of Western parties, which originated in 1980 and typically draw an attendance of some 700. The event will begin at 2 p.m. with diversions that will include a buffalo chip toss, a sky show featuring antique airplanes, an auction, casino games, Country Western dancing and a buffet featuring the Daley Family’s very own pit-barbecued buffalo. Cowboy duds are de rigueur. For further information, call the Mission Valley YMCA.

The Children’s Museum of San Diego will host its sixth annual gala that evening in the Nautilus Pavilion at Sea World. The “FantaSea Ball” will feature one of the largest charity raffles in the city (prizes include a pearl-and-diamond necklace and a 25-carat blue topaz), dinner and dancing to Pieces and The Nomads. Tickets are available at $150 per person for patron’s level, or $100 per person for regular admission. For further information, call the museum.

Also on Sept. 21, San Diego Hospice will present the annual Humanitarians of the Year Award to weight loss moguls Sid and Jenny Craig. The fifth annual dinner gala will observe a black tie-optional dress code and will commence with a cocktail reception at 7 p.m. in the Champagne Ballroom of the Sheraton Harbor Island hotel. Television personality Ed McMahon will serve as master of ceremonies. Regular admission costs $200 per person; special patron categories include seating for 10 and cost $5,000 for the Society of Fellows, and $10,000 for the Platinum Dove designation. For information, call San Diego Hospice.

The month will conclude with the sixth annual “Fete X Five” gastronomic gala, to be given Saturday, Sept. 28 in the Grand Ballroom of the Sheraton Harbor Island hotel for the benefit of the March of Dimes Birth Defects Foundation’s “Campaign for Healthier Babies,” aimed at reducing the infant mortality rate in San Diego and Imperial Counties. Six nationally known chefs will prepare courses for the formal, black tie dinner, including Emeril Lagasse of Emeril’s in New Orleans and Georges Perrier of Le Bec Fin in Philadelphia. The event will commence with a 6:30 p.m. cocktail reception. Tickets cost $250 and $350 per person. For information, call the San Diego chapter of the March of Dimes.

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