The Crowd: Puttin' on the Ritz for Chapman

The classy Christmas at the Ritz holiday luncheon Saturday benefiting Chapman University attracted a sold-out crowd, raising nearly $190,000. The 26th annual celebration is produced by the Women of Chapman support group, this season chaired by the lovely Kim Smith.

Since its founding in 1971, the Women of Chapman have donated $1.5 million to the university, including fulfilling a $500,000 pledge specifically earmarked in support of the Dodge College of Film and Media Arts. Presently, the group has set its sights on raising $1 million in support of the coming Musco Center for the Arts slated for completion in 2014.

In the high-spirited holiday crowd were many fashionable standouts, including Adrienne Brandes and husband R.J. Brandes, and Newport luxury real estate top producer Alison McCormick and husband James McCormick.

Social movers and shakers including Donna Bunce, Donna Calvert, Kathy and Noel Hamilton, Barbara Bowie, Sue Hook, Rusty Hood, Sharon McNalley, Shari Esayian, Fritzie Williams, Sandra Brodie, Sandy Beigel Chiles, Joan Riach Gaynor, Charlene Prager, Marion Pickens, Lynn Auer, Nora Jorgensen Johnson, and Catherine Emmi on the arm of husband Jim Emmi. The Emmis were recently honored as Chapman's Citizens of the Year at the star-studded American Celebration.

Chapman's 2012 American Celebration marked another impressive milestone for the respected university. The Nov. 3 extravaganza raised $2.1 million for student scholarships and also was the occasion for an announcement by the Argyros Family Foundation, gifting $8 million in support for the Musco Center for the Arts. The gift will name the center's main concert hall the Julianne Argyros Orchestra Hall.

Honored guests at the 31st annual black-tie evening included Hollywood luminaries Richard Dreyfuss, taking home the Chapman Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award, and actor Beau Bridges, as well as the Emmis.

The gala — co-chaired by Joann Leatherby and Greg Bates with support from the Brandeses, Zee Allred and Drago Gilgic, Brenda and Mike Carver, Doy and Dee Henley, Kelly and Jim Mazzo and Suki and Randy McCardle, to name only a few — featured another incredible show, titled "We Make Stars," produced by Chapman's William Hall and staff.

The Share Our Wine Foundation's Eighth Annual Auction Orange County attracted some 250 bidders Nov. 17 in the Samueli Theater, raising thousands of dollars for local children's charities. Major recipients included the Festival of Children Foundation, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Orangewood Children's Foundation.

The wine event has raised more than $1 million in just eight seasons for deserving charities assisting O.C. children.

Last Sunday morning, Tiffany & Co. opened its formidable steel doors at South Coast Plaza for a champagne holiday breakfast. Move over, Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday — Champagne Sunday has them all beat, hands down. The doors opened exactly at 8:30 a.m., welcoming an impressive crowd of robust holiday shoppers who arrived bright and early to examine the seasonal sparkles.

Soon, the crowd sported delicacies catered by Quattro Caffé in one hand and their personal Tiffany blue bags in another. As a fabulous trio provided Christmas favorites, Tiffany Director Michael Botsko pressed the flesh, along with Tiffany executive Jonathan Bruckner, his wife, Anne, and their infant daughter, Ali.

Mrs. Claus was on hand, too, sans the big guy, who was doing what he does best at Christmas — making toys for tots. Amid the shopping frenzy of the season, this event was simply about making the crowd feel special. And it did just that.

THE CROWD runs Fridays. B.W. Cook is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.

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