The Crowd: A 'Downton Abbey'-inspired ball

It was a spectacular evening on the Orange Coast for public television.

On May 5, PBS SoCal celebrated its 5th annual fundraising gala. Estimated proceeds came in at $852,000. The impressive sum will benefit the KOCE-TV Foundation, which finds its focus in supporting the educational programming offered by PBS SoCal.

Formerly known as KOCE-TV, PBS SoCal now serves a far-reaching Southern California demographic, including the Greater Los Angeles region, which makes it one of the most important PBS stations in the nation.

With this responsibility comes the task that PBS SoCal takes most seriously: educational outreach for millions of children tuning in daily. Every dollar raised at the gala matters. It enables that outreach to grow, to improve and to matter.

Co-chaired by a dedicated local O.C. committee, led by Peggy Goldwater Clay and Ardelle St. George, the event held at John Wayne Airport's Atlantic Aviation Hangar took on the PBS theme "Masterpiece Ball." It was an homage to the critically acclaimed television series"Downton Abbey" with very special guest of honor Rebecca Eaton, the show's executive producer, in attendance.

Eaton joined significant V.I.P. sponsors Mary and John Tu, Marybelle and S. Paul Musco, Julia and George Argyros, Mindy and Glenn Stearns, Phil and Mary Lyons, Paul Folino, and Bette and Wylie Aitken for a lively costume ball with guests recreating many of their favorite "Downton Abbey" characters.

PBS SoCal anchors Ed Arnold and Ann Pulice handled the emcee duties, introducing KOCE-TV Foundation Chair Dr. Jo Ellen Chatham and PBS SoCal President and Chief Executive Mel Rogers sharing words of inspiration with the dinner crowd. In addition to the welcome of Rebecca Eaton, honored community activists Marybelle and S. Paul Musco and South Coast Repertory's founding artistic directors David Emmes and Martin Benson took a bow for their ongoing support of public television.

Dinner service was catered on site by Crème de la Crème as guests enjoyed a first-course bibb lettuce wedge and heirloom beet salad vinaigrette. A main course of boneless short ribs braised in Guinness was served with a selection of sides.

Enjoying the company and the cuisine were Sally Anderson and Tom Rogers, Shawn Hubler and Robert Magnuson, PBS SoCal executive Brenda Brkusic, Gary Hunt, Marian Bergeson and PBS SoCal anchor Maria Hall-Brown.

Also supporting the evening were Mart Hubbard, Mary Lyons, Betty and S.L. Huang, U.S. Rep. Loretta Sanchez, Sherry and Ralph Opacic, and major donors Kelly and Jim Mazzo.

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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