The Crowd: Silent auction with big benefits

Silent and live auctions are super important elements associated with almost every major charitable event on the Orange Coast. Organizers can spend up to a year knocking on doors of merchants, vendors and professionals, gathering the goods and services that will be sold to the highest bidder at every party imaginable benefiting your favorite cause. People love auctions and either they get a fabulous buy or they end up overpaying in a frenzy of competition, but either way the expense is justified because the funds go to charity.

Some of the more unique auction items include one-of-a-kind packages that range from private dinners catered in one's own home by a celebrity chef to a helicopter ride into the mouth of a volcano, to a walk-on part on a hit television show, or perhaps even a private meeting with a well-known politician.

I know one woman who bought a luncheon with a politician who was thrown out of office for corruption before she could take advantage of the luncheon.

She confided, "I should have bought the pearl necklace instead."

During an event earlier this year, one of the region's very worthwhile causes, the Adoption Guild of Southern California, offered as one of its prize items a "makeover party" to be held at the Toni & Guy Salon in Fashion Island. The salon has been a longtime supporter of the Adoption Guild, which is celebrating its 50th year working with families in the Orange County community.

More on the back story. The Guild is closely involved with the annual Roy Emerson Classic Tennis Tournament held on the Memorial Day weekend at the Newport Beach Tennis Club. In late May, avid tennis player and Adoption Guild member Pam Selber joined forces with new guild member Liz Maxon. They purchased the makeover party, which included major re-dos for 10 women at the Toni & Guy Salon. Selber and Maxon held on to the prize throughout the summer, not exactly sure what they were going to do with it, or who they were going to invite. Then, their vivacious world-traveling tennis friend, Mara Cole, formerly of Newport Beach, flew into town in early fall from her current residence in Salt Lake City to celebrate her birthday with her girlfriends. It was the perfect opportunity for hostesses Selber and Maxon to use their silent auction purchase.

With plenty of hype and fanfare, 10 women fronted by birthday gal Cole arrived at Toni & Guy one mid-week evening at sunset to be transformed into their own version of "The Housewives of Orange County." Actually, many of the ladies were ex-housewives of Orange County, now independent women pursuing careers and different lives. Therefore, the makeover would be more appropriately titled "Benefiting a few of the Ex-Housewives of Orange County and Their Married Friends." Toni & Guy creative director Josh Marzioli and chief colorist Dre' stood at the ready alongside makeup artist Olivia Rice, first creating the "Dream Makeover" for birthday girl Cole, while her friends waited for the drumroll and the reveal. It was pure Oprah Winfrey makeover television in real life. Of course, there was a bit of champagne toasting while the other nine gals waited for the big moment.

Hoots and hollers and screams filled the salon as Cole made her entrance showing off her new blond hairstyle, makeup and wardrobe, too. Then the rest of the ladies said it was their turn, and the staff at Toni & Guy went to work creating makeovers for the other nine women. The champagne flowed and appetizers were served as each participant enjoyed a new haircut, styling and colorization along with the latest in makeup techniques. All the services from all the stylists were donated in support of the Adoption Guild.

As the evening in the salon came to a conclusion, Cole was presented with a birthday sash commemorating the experience. Each of the ladies left the salon wearing rhinestone tiaras. So, you see, silent auction items really do go to good use.

Just another "girls night out" in Newport Beach for Susie Gaunt, Nancy Collins, Cyndie Borcoman, Pierrette Baker, Rosemarie Denzler, Tracy Forrester and Stacy Blaugrund. Cole is back at home in Salt Lake City, still in shock, and very definitely missing her pals in Newport.

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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