The Crowd: It’s in with the old on New Year’s Eve — tradition, that is


My informal survey among Newport-Mesa social standouts tells me that the proper modern New Year’s Eve tradition may be an early dinner followed by a careful drive home to find a comfortable seat in front of the fireplace as the television displays celebrations around the world.

Add to the equation a glass of champagne at 9 p.m. — midnight in New York — or for the diehards, a midnight toast and a kiss with a wish for good fortune in the coming year.

For the black-tie traditionalists, there still remains the elegant evening in the hotel ballroom. For 67 years, the Newport crowd has come together on Dec. 31 to welcome the calendar change at the Balboa Bay Club and Balboa Bay Resort.

In decades past, New Year’s at the Balboa Bay Club was the golden ticket. People made their reservations months in advance to secure a table by the dance floor. It was a night to see and be seen. Women dressed to impress in the most elegant formal fashions, with the necessary fur stole and the appropriate dose of diamond sparkle.

In those days, there weren’t dozens of hotels, clubs and wonderful restaurants to compete with the Bay Club locale. Over the years, generations have passed, tastes have changed, and for the most part the old guard is just a nostalgic memory. Yet, despite the vast social changes in the modern era, the black-tie elegance of a formal New Year’s Eve party has attracted a younger generation eager and willing to experience what their parents and grandparents accepted as part of an annual rite of passage.

The recent Dec. 31 event at the Balboa Bay Resort was ushered in with an 8 p.m. cocktail and hors d’oeuvres reception. As the crowd arrived in the foyer of the grand ballroom, they were welcomed by a martini bar in an ice luge and wait staff in starched white uniforms holding silver trays of canapes.

Revelers in the crowd included Ariana and Ryan Robbibaro, Michelle and Gregson Hall, Angelica and Jason Kafer, Howard Leiberman, Jeanine Leslie, Sandra Cook, Shelby Hood, and Jerry Moushey. The Balboa Bay Resort’s chef created a five-course feast paired with exceptional wines, and the crowd danced into the night to the music of the 12-piece party band “Rembrandt.”

Spotted on the dance floor were Gail and Ron Soderling with family members Eric and Rhonda Soderling, Rebecca and Dean Shafer, Pamela and Michael Foster and Virginia Mangione. A champagne toast at midnight was accented with a massive balloon drop. Gold and silver balloons floated down over the dance floor as the largely young and attractive crowd blew their New Year’s trumpets and twirled their noise makers in an age-old salute to long-held tradition.


The Anaheim Ducks End The Year In Style

It was all for the Orangewood Foundation, which assists Orange County youths.

The 2015 Anaheim Ducks Center Ice Party, billed as “California country,” unfolded at the House of Blues Anaheim on Dec. 14.

The event attracted more than 550 guests on a Monday night around holiday time thanks to the dedication of chairwoman Kimberly Kirksey, a board member of Orangewood’s 44 Women for Children Auxiliary.

The entire affair was underwritten and presented by Orange County’s Klein family, and it began with a sunset VIP lounge featuring gaming tables and a special meet-and-greet featuring Ryan Getzlaf, one of the stars of the Anaheim Ducks. As a deejay turned up the volume on the funk rock dance music, the crowd arrived for an evening of action featuring an 80-minute performance by the Eli Young Band.

Kent French, the Anaheim Ducks’ TV host, kept the party moving from dance floor to game room to the live and silent auctions.

Major sponsorship for the Orangewood evening with the Ducks came from Jim Mazzo, Ron and Allison Worobey, and Casey and Cindy Journigan, along with corporate donors and foundations including Pacific Premiere Bank, Fox Sports, the Samueli Foundation and others.

Committee members from the 44 Women for Children auxiliary producing the party included Kelly Bozza, Hope Dorsey, Karen Goldhirsh, Peggy Holt, Penni Walley and Rochelle Kadin, to name only a few.

The crowd had an amazing evening mingling with their favorite Ducks’ team members, including Corey Perry, Ryan Kesler, Frederik Andersen, Kevin Bieksa and Andrew Cogliano. Also in the crowd were team owners Henry and Susan Samueli, team CEO Michael Schulman, Tim Ryan, Bob Murray and Ducks’ Coach Bruce Boudreau.

B.W. COOK is editor of the Bay Window, the official publication of the Balboa Bay Club in Newport Beach.