Costa Mesa is a city growing older, a city in full bloom, a table resting by the sea.
So go the lyrics for an acoustic guitar song that premiered Thursday night during the city’s first Mayor’s Celebration, “The Art of Leadership,” at the Samueli Theater.
Dan Krikorian, a Costa Mesa High School alumnus and the school’s current boys’ basketball coach, gave a surprise performance of his song that proved to be one highlight of the event that city officials said will be an annual tradition.
Sitting at the dinner tables, Beatles-themed dishes in front of them, was a potpourri offering of who’s who in the City of the Arts: council members, city officials current and former, police officers, firefighters, politicians and representatives from the Sanitary District, Mesa Water District and Costa Mesa Chamber of Commerce, as well as their guests and supporters.
Mayor Jim Righeimer gave a nearly 10-minute speech on the state of the city, including the council’s five priorities: keeping city spending in order, particularly for infrastructure investment; continuing to reform the pension system; advocating a holistic approach to long-term problems, such as homelessness and crime associated with motels; keeping city business public and transparent; and coming up with innovative solutions for residents and businesses.
“The bottom line is we’re a great city for the 21st century,” Righeimer said. “This city is a true masterpiece.”
The dinner was a fundraiser for arts programs at Mesa and Estancia high schools, PBS SoCal and the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Singers and jazz musicians from Mesa performed several Beatles numbers throughout the evening.
Tickets started at $125 a person. In February, organizers said they were hoping to net at least $30,000 from the event, with Mesa and Estancia each getting $10,000 and PBS SoCal and the Segerstrom Center each receiving $5,000.
Former Mayor Jack Hammett and members of the Segerstrom family, who founded South Coast Plaza and are longtime arts philanthropists, were also honored.
Hammett spoke for a few minutes from the Samueli podium after organizers played a short documentary video of his life, including his World War II service at Pearl Harbor and accomplishments as an influential resident of Costa Mesa.
“Sometimes you get to stand up here and accept plaudits and accept accolades and things like that,” Hammett told the audience. “There is no self-made man. It takes a lot of people to make a man. It took you to help me do what I did, and I enjoyed doing it.”
He also praised the council, adding that the road ahead isn’t always smooth.
“There is going to be some tough times,” Hammett said. “But heck, if it isn’t worth a little tough times, it probably isn’t worth it.”