Our Laguna: Beautification Council remembers Harry Lawrence

The Beautification Council is more than a pretty face.

"We are the stewards of the city's beauty; we assist the city in keeping the city pristine; we keep an eye out for chancellors of taste and provide support to those who have none," council President Ruben Flores said Monday night at the group's first-ever fundraiser.

Montage Laguna Beach hosted the event.

The hotel did them proud with a sumptuous dinner in the ballroom to celebrate the group's Diamond Jubilee and a cake with a frosted lifeguard tower, in honor of the council's late founder and "Window to the Sea" advocate Harry Lawrence.

Flores, who loves growing things and all things beautiful, enthused over the revitalization of the council.

"Our motto is 'Keep Laguna pristine and quaint,'" Flores said. "Come beautify with us. What have you got to lose?"

The event included a silent auction, with items from Lawrence's collection, donated by his widow, Zahide, including basketfuls of his ties and scarves and a beautiful teak model of a Chinese Junk.

Other donations included two scripts from "Hot in Cleveland," signed by Betty White, a Lygia Delgado painting and gift certificates for Sawdust art classes and a meal at the Lumberyard. John Barber and Gavin Heath donated vases.

Sergio Prince, executive director of public affairs for Supervisor Pat Bates, presented proclamations on behalf of her and the state Senate. Bates was at the event early, but had to leave before dinner.

The city was represented by council members Elizabeth Pearson, Toni Iseman and Mayor Pro Tem Verna Rollinger.

Event committee members included Barbara Ring, Chloe Echternacht, Joan Sutch, Lecia Davis, Max Brown and Flores. Michael Gosselin took souvenir photographs of the guests.

Also on the guest list were longtime councilmember Eleanor Henry, Laguna Beach Visitors Bureau board chairwoman Karyn Philippsen and president and CEO Judy Bijlani, John Gustafson and Jim Palmer, former Mayor Ann Christoph, Sawdust exhibitor Dennis Junka, Laguna College of Art & Design board member Nelson Coates and Cathy and attorney Larry Nokes.

Seated at the Chamber of Commerce table were President Michael and Cheryl Kinsman, Sam and board member Michelle Clark, Executive Director Kris Thalman and Luciano Stefaninini.


Playhouse Gala

The opening night gala of the Tony-award winning play, "39 Steps" on Saturday was a sellout.

Theater-goers were welcomed by Playhouse Executive Director Karen Wood, Artistic Director Ann E. Wareham, Development Director Elizabeth Pearson, staff members and volunteers — the women all dressed in 1930s-style black dresses and pearls — and Wally Ziegler, actor and audience services manager for 22 years.

Also on hand was Lauren Simon, library manager, whose job is called dramaturgy. Simon screens scripts, helps select presentations and conducts adult education programs.

Nolet, parent company of Ketel One Vodka and Nolet Dry Gin, and the newest Playhouse sponsors, served glamorous '30s-style cocktails.

Laguna Concert Band members Cathie Schroeder and Chuck Johnson performed '30s standards at the reception, applauded by band founder Carol Reynolds.

Jock Stalker catered the reception and the post-performance desserts.

"The reception was itself a performance," Pearson said.

But the play was the thing, and it wasn't just the laughter that got applause

"Director Kevin Bigger should get a lot of credit," said jeweler and Sawdust exhibitor Patti Jo Kiraly, awed by the tricky stage craft.

Four actors play 150 different characters and the staging is a triumph.

"It is so smart and clever," said Festival of Arts Special Events Director Susan Davis.

Planning Commissioner Bob Whalen loved the "puppets."

"I am amazed by the timing," said Faye Baglin, who attended the gala with her husband, Art Alliance President Wayne Baglin.

Also in the audience: Arts Commissioners Pat Kollenda and Suzi Chauvel, Laguna College of Art & Design President Jonathan Burke, Festival of Arts exhibitor Kristen Whalen, Jane and Playhouse board President Joe Hanaeur, board member Cynthia Harris and James Spencer.

And: Dwayne and Laguna Beach Community Foundation President Darrcy Loveland Bickel, Dr. Gary and School Board member Betsy Jenkins, Dr. Paul and Laguna Beach Live! founder Cindy Prewitt, Laguna businesswoman Heidi Miller, Matt and Mary Lawson, Francine and Dan Scinto, Bill Schroeder and Indian Territory's Toni and Len Wood.


An Enchanting Evening

Supporters of a nontraditional approach to court cases spent an "Enchanted Evening" Sept. 29 at a dinner honoring Orange County Collaborative Court Judges Matthew Anderson, Debra Carrillo, Michael Cassidy, Deborah Chuang, Maria Hernandez, Joe Perez, Richard Lee and Wendy Lindley and Commissioners Ronald Klar and Jane Shade.

Collaborative Courts, which got their start in Orange County 1995, are specialized tracks that address underlying issues, ranging from juvenile delinquency, truency, addiction, homelessness, to combat veteran's adjustment to civilian life, that may factor into cases that come before the court.

"They take the pressure off the rest of the courts, get people into programs and serve to better their lives and keep them out of the justice system," said Judge Lee.

The dinner at the Surf & Sand Resort was a fundraiser for the Orange County Collaborative Courts Foundation, founded in 2006 by Laguna Beach resident Kathleen Burnham, who serves as executive director.

Burnham said that being a mother, a taxpayer and knowledgeable about the success of the Collaborative Courts programs inspired her to create the foundation with the goal of raising awareness, funds and community support for the programs.

Foundation programs help participants in the collaborative courts with medical or dental needs, vision care, continuing education; and it provides them with life skills, workshops and clean and sober social activities.

Board members include her husband, Bob Burnham, retired Newport Harbor City Attorney who has forged a new career helping Laguna recover from disasters.

Guests at the fundraiser included Peggy and City Manager John Pietig, former Laguna Beach Director of Administrative Services Sandy Groves, Synthia and Honus Riechter, Catherine and Torben Hoelshoj.

For more information about the foundation, call (949) 494-6369.

OUR LAGUNA is a regular feature of the Laguna Beach Coastline Pilot. Contributions are welcomed. Call (714) 966-4618 or email coastlinepilot@latimes.com with Attn. Barbara Diamond in the subject line.

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