An extravagant evening in Newport Beach unfolded last Saturday at The Island Hotel on behalf of KOCE-TV Public Television. The grand gala, co-chaired by Peggy Goldwater Clay and Ardelle St. George, was themed "That's Entertainment." The party certainly lived up to its title.
Super-generous underwriter John Tu, chairman of Kingston Technology Corp., and his 28-member band, known as "California Dreamin'" (with Tu on the drums ), absolutely blew away the 250 black tie-clad guests who had gathered to support KOCE-TV.
The John Tu band was the tip of the iceberg. Orange County High School of the Arts founder Ralph Opacic sang a rendition of "Don't Get Around Much Any More." KOCE board member Heidi Cortese joined dance partner Eddie Alba doing the foxtrot to "The Business of Love." South Coast Plaza executive Sarah Corrigan joined KOCE president Mel Rogers in singing a duet that was a takeoff on the famous Johnny Cash and June Carter Cash rendition of "Jackson."
The affair attracted a who's-who crowd of Orange County givers. Total proceeds from the gala are estimated at nearly $800,000, a phenomenal success in tough economic times. The largesse is due in great part to the support and participation of this years honored couple, Bette and Wylie Aitken, who shared the spotlight with the Orange County High School of the Arts as the honorees of the evening.
In recent years Wylie Aitken, a mega-successful Orange County-based attorney, and his wife Bette have become major players on the social scene, underwriting and supporting a diverse portfolio of causes, most prominent among them arts and culture-related endeavors. In his youth, Wylie pursued an acting career, which at some point translated into the legal profession. Certainly the skills he learned as a performer no doubt propelled his legal career into the stratosphere. As a tremendous community asset, the Aitkens have, in turn, generously shared their success with the Orange County family and make a big difference in the arts scene for thousands of people who have no idea who they are.
The Aitkens joined two additional exemplary donors John and Mary Tu and the highly regarded S. Paul and Marybelle Musco in raising the financial bar to the incredible $800,000 figure. Each of them were responsible for significant six-figure contributions to KOCE-TV. Additional support came from the Allergan Foundation, Chapman University, Citizens Business Bank, Wells Fargo Bank, the UC Irvine Medical Center, Southern California Edison, the law firm of St. George and Carnegie and Grubb and Ellis Co. Also front and center for KOCE-TV were Mindy and Glenn Stearns, Donna and Dave Janes, Camille Dixon and Bill Rogers, and the Paul Folino family.
Besides the electricity generated by all of the entertainment, the party itself was stunning. Thanks to the contributions of Tiffany & Co., represented by Michael Botsko, joining vendors, including Titos Vodka, Young's Market, Neiman Marcus and Sunny Ravanbach of White Lilac Design Studio, the event was clearly among the most beautiful of the summer season on the coast. The crowd entered the Island ballroom to witness a visual landscape of rectangular tables draped in Tiffany blue linens. Magnificent stems of oversized white orchids flowed from low-rise glass containers at the center of each table. At each chair Botsko and staff had placed a Tiffany blue gift bag containing a handsome contemporary crystal vase. The bags were festooned with jewel-encrusted and feathered adornments made especially by White Lilac. Following a gourmet dinner that featured a truffle roasted filet, the entire crowd was up on their feet on the enormous dance floor adjoining the 28-piece band. Throughout the evening additional musical performances, including a tribute to the Jersey Boys and Rod Stewart, were a part of the entertainment.