It is a small and wonderful community zoo.
Friends of the Santa Ana Zoo gathered within the compound on Saturday night to celebrate another year with our fur-covered friends sharing the planet.
The passion and the purpose of the zoo staff, led by Director Kent Yamaguchi, is infectious. The Orange County crowd of nearly 400 patrons came to pledge assistance, ensuring the zoo's vitality and ability to properly care for and protect its residents. In particular, the funds raised will help to purchase a much-needed "bobcat" tractor.
By evening's end, a net amount approximating $80,000 was raised.
Sponsored by the Friends of Santa Ana Zoo, known as FOSAZ, who are now in their 33rd year of being front and center for the zoo, this year's event was in the capable stewardship of chairs Ed Arnold and Sandy Segerstrom Daniels.
A large event committee assisted the effort, including participation from Anita Roach, Colby Cain, Dale Fink, Debbie Newmeyer and Debbie Schweickert. Major support came from development committee folks such as Diana Grummett, Donel Wiles, Peggy Baldwin-Butler, Roseanne Bye and Sandy Pignone.
The evening in the wilds, with the sounds of screeching monkeys in the distance, began with cocktails and a silent auction at sunset.
The crowd, including Armando and Leticia Armenta, Mike and Erin Barnes, Doug and Melissa Corrigan, John and Bettina Deininger and Judy Flour Runels, sampled wild mushroom flatbread pizza, coconut shrimp and duck spring rolls prior to an al fresco dinner of filet mignon and soy maple glazed salmon accompanied by a summer risotto.
On hand to guide the event were dedicated FOSAZ board members Jon Ribble, its president, and Cathi Decker, its executive director. Glen Fladeboe handled the live auction. Gerardo Mouet, executive director of Parks and Recreation for Santa Ana, joined Claudia Alvarez, mayor pro tem of Santa Ana, and Santa Ana council members David Benavides and Pat McGuigan.
Debbie Friedman, FOSAZ's vice president, joined patrons Gus and Sarah Cafealas, Rudy and Veronica Emami, Barry and Cathi Hofstetter, and Jeff and Deb Iverson.
The crowd danced until Cinderella was beckoned at midnight.
THE CROWD runs Thursdays and Saturdays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.