The Crowd: Fall gala supports Mission San Juan Capistrano

Mission San Juan Capistrano hosted its annual Romance of the Mission fall gala Sept. 14. It starred actor and singer Davis Gaines, perhaps best known for his role in "The Phantom of the Opera," performing in the ruins of the mission's Great Stone Church.

Chairing the Friday evening event under toasty late-summer skies were Jan and H. Warren Siegel, a retired Orange County Superior Court judge.

The Siegels were also the honored guests of the night recognized for their years of dedication to mission projects. They welcomed a sold-out crowd of 300 guests raising significant funds to complete reconstruction of the new gatehouse at the mission. It is under the charge of Costa Mesa-based Hofmann-Finn Development Co. and is set to be finished in March.

Major support for the evening and for the gatehouse project Gate came from donors including the Ritz-Carlton, Laguna Niguel, which underwrote the gala dinner; the O'Connell Family Foundation; Sheila and Jim Peterson; Microsemi; Melinda and Tony Moiso; Lula Halfacre; E.J. Tracy and Tracy Industries; and Connie and Peter Spenuzza.

Also supporting the cause were Carole and Robert Follman, Marybelle and S. Paul Musco, Mary and Patrick Dick, Mary and Walter Frome, Mission San Juan Capistrano Msgr. Arthur Holquin, Mechelle Lawrence-Adams, and Don and Penny Tryon.

Gala committee members deserving recognition include Diana Arrigoni, Barb Beier, Jodie Cerruti, Kim Eudemiller, Georgianna Hales, Wendy Mulvihill, Michelle Sukut, Mozelle Sukut and Madeline Swinden.

The evening under the stars began with a preconcert reception at dusk, followed by Gaines' show preceding dinner. An 8 p.m. candlelight dinner featuring the music of the Marco Tulio Trio completed the romantic mood of the evening and inspired the crowd to buy raffle tickets for a stunning cross necklace donated by Traditional Jewelers. The funds raised helped to support the mission's preservation.

Mission San Juan Capistrano, Orange County's only mission, was founded by Padre Junípero Serra on Nov. 1, 1776. Today, some 50,000 O.C. fourth-graders visit the mission as part of their curriculum on early California history, the mission's website states.

Owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese of Orange, the mission is funded by donations managed by the Mission Preservation Foundation. It functions without funding from either the Catholic church or the state.

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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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