The Crowd: Girls, mothers celebrate under the big top

A picture-perfect Saturday afternoon in Newport Beach was the backdrop for "Under the Big Top."

The circus-inspired theme was chosen for the 2012 National Charity League, Juniors Mother-Daughter luncheon and fashion show held at the Balboa Bay Club & Resort. It was one of the most exceptionally designed events held in the Bay Club ballroom, transforming the massive space into the interior of a romantic circus tent.

National Charity League, Juniors President Jenny Gehl joined co-chairs Samantha Anderson, Erin Greenwald and Becky Scanlan in welcoming some 500 mothers and daughters under the big top.

The event ultimately raised more than $100,000 for the group's charities. The beneficiaries include High Hopes Head Injury Program, Pediatric Cancer Research Foundation, and the Harry and Grace Steele Children's Center at Orange Coast College.

The upbeat event included the introduction of sixth-grade mothers and daughters graduating out of the National Charity League, Juniors program, some of whom began as kindergartners. The purpose of the endeavor is to foster a strong mother-daughter relationship in connection with passing on to the new generation a concern for philanthropic, cultural and social involvement in the community.

Young ladies lunched on a mini corn dog on a stick and cheese pizza while their mothers enjoyed the famous Balboa Bay Club California Cobb salad. For dessert, it was warm churros with coffee cream Anglaise dipping sauce, along with frosted doughnuts and chocolate milk for the girls.

A number of dads were on hand to assist with helping sell the raffle tickets and raise the financial bar. Dads in the crowd were John Calder, Robert Montgomery, Tim Storm, David Greenwald, Eric Hoffman, Anthony Curci, Eric Anderson and Tim Scanlan, to name a few.

Ladies deserving kudos for their hard work included Suzanna Richter, Jennifer Middlemas, Laura Baskurt, Allison Rabin, Cory Lang, Erin Barnes, Allyson D'Eliscu, Marcie Garner, Leslie Montgomery and Kathryn Hoffman, who helped to coordinate the spring fashion presentation produced by Saks Fifth Avenue at South Coast Plaza.

The graduating class of sixth-grade girls and their mothers included Allison Barnes and mother Erin Barnes, Betsy Calder and mother Molly Calder, Eva Curci and mother Erin Curci, Annabelle D'Eliscu and mother Allyson D'Eliscu, Isabella Deckey and mother Tamara Deckey, Sarah Duarte and mother Michelle Duarte, Raleigh Garner and mother Marcie Garner, Parker Hoffman and mother Kathryn Hoffman, Katherine Montgomery and mother Leslie Montgomery, Claire Neushul and mother Marymichael Neushul, Elizabeth Prado and mother Kimberly Prado, MacKenzie Storm and mother Nora Storm, and Ellie Yacoel and mother Michelle Yacoel.

Mothers supporting the event also counted among the dedicated Wendy Enkema, Frania Black, Misdee Jacobs, Giselle Marlo, Wendy Bush, Lillian Chung, Nina Grover, Ali Jones, C.C. Knowles and Pooneh Shakoori.

As in years past, the highlight of the event is the inclusion of young sixth-grade National Charity League, Juniors graduates as models on the Saks fashion runway. Mothers cheered and fathers shed a tear on this special spring afternoon that will be a lasting memory and a rite of passage for each and every family member.

In case you might be wondering if there was a significance in choosing a circus theme, organizers shared with the sixth-grade mothers the complicated task of raising a child today and came up with the concept that life is truly a juggling act with young children.

Each of the mothers shared that juggling act, calling her routine her own personal "three-ring circus" that consists of all the activities and responsibilities that fill the schedule each and every day for parents and children.

"When life is a juggling act, I rely on my family and friends to keep me balanced, " Molly Calder said.

Erin Curci added, "And I rely on my faith as well."

Finally, Kimberly Prado commented, "I rely on love and guidance from my family and laughter and support from my friends."

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.

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