“Cruise Around the World – Santa Barbara Style” was the theme for the Santa Barbara Event Professionals (SBEP) inaugural sold out fundraiser benefiting Sansum Diabetes Research Institute (SDRI). The Ty Warner Sea Center at Stearns Wharf donated its place for the rockin’ event. This sea creature place was magically transformed to a hot spot with green and blue lights surrounding the building, a clear tent covering the end of the pier, sound, dancers, food stations and bars.

Someone in the group told me, “The tent was put up two days before the party. The wind came up and blew it into the ocean where it sank.” These event pros managed to get another from Los Angeles in time. More magic. After days of rain the sun shone gloriously for the party.

There was a sense of energy and fun about the evening from the moment we checked in until the end. We wandered about tasting samples of food from Asia (mein noodle salad), Polynesia (pulled pork sandwiches), North Africa (lentil stew and couscous), Europe (cheese and baguettes), Latin America (ceviche and empanadas), and the chocolate fountain was flowing. There were bars with exotic drinks, regular cocktails and fine wines. Hula girls were dancing in one room and Fusion Dance Company in another. There was a belly dancer, flamenco guitarist, caricaturist and magician. We got “flipped” by Get Flipped motiongraphix (one kissing photo and one smiling photo flip back and forth like a motion picture). These were mounted on luggage tags for our next trip. Guests were bidding on the silent auction and Johnny Carson led the lively live auction. Whew!

Event co-chairs Scott Topper and Kim Vandyk told their team Diana Andonian, Shana Baggaley, Jason Clay, Gary and Harlene Conlin, Shila Crabtree, Ann Dockendorf, Zohe Felici, Jeannine Glockler, Richard Good, Robyn Johnson, Melissa Lee, Mo McFadden, Philippe Sautot, Melissa Sylvester, Rochelle Rose and Steve Sawin, “You Rock!”

Since California leads the country in diabetes cases, SDRI was a proper choice to benefit from this “funraiser.” If you’d like to help in making your next event a success log on to Santa Barbara Event Professionals at This group can refer you to members in every area of event planning.

‘One Last Thing’

As I drove down Anacapa in the dark toward the Lobero Theatre I looked up and saw giant bold letters projected on the back of the wall of the theatre spelling “One Last Thing.” What a thrill it must have been for the actors who were on hand for the West Coast premiere of their film! Better than klieg lights.

Beneath the movie title was a clear tent shining with blue lights where the reception hosted by Lucie Greer would be held following the filming. The Santa Barbara International Film Festival (SBIFF), with HDNet Films and Magnolia pictures, sponsored the premiere. Cinema Society members were invited. Since the movie is about a dying teenager’s last wish, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Inc., was honored. The rest of the seats were free to the public.

“One Last Thing” was directed by Alex Steyermark and written by Barry Stringfellow. They said, “We have known each other since we were twelve and lived near Marcus Hook, Pennsylvania.” Though the lead played by Michael Angarano (“Seabiscuit,” “Sky High” and “Lords of Dogtown”) was dying, the film had more humor than sadness. His last wish is to spend a weekend in New York with his favorite fashion model played by Sunny Mabrey (“xXx: State of the Union”). Angarano’s two movie sidekicks Gideon Glick and Matt Bush were also there.

SBIFF executive director Roger Durling moderated the Q&A after the screening. Hospice executive director Gail Rink told the audience, “The movie was realistically based on what I see every day.”

Stringfellow said, “His wish is what I would ask for if I were dying,” while Steyermark explained, “We were taking photos in Marcus Hook for the film late at night and we got arrested for looking suspicious. When we finally shot the film there, the arresting officer was our police escort.”

As the rain poured down we all stayed dry and cozy in the tent covering the Lobero Courtyard while sipping wine and devouring buffet goodies. Among those attending were new president of the SBIFF Board Jeff Barbakow and wife, Margo, along with SBIFF Board members Van Spaulding (with wife McKenna), Lee Phillips (with wife Marla), Kyle Brace, Nora Hurley and Jim Bechtel. Others mixing and mingling were Courtney Doherty, Christina Musrey and Katrinka Wolfson.

“One Last Thing” opens in theatres throughout the country on May 5.

Wine and Design

The Opportunity Shop gave guests the opportunity to “shop ‘til you drop,” sample food specialties prepared by local chefs and sip wines from our area at its second Wine & Design event. Cox Media’s new show “Cooking Local” was the sponsor with the show’s star Jeanne Bergh as evening’s hostess. Other sponsors were Cox Communications, Santa Barbara Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Independent, Mary and Jay Coslett, Montecito Bank & Trust, Santa Barbara Women Lawyers Foundation and Linda and Robert Short.

Local interior designers and volunteers turned the store into a cool party place complete with a dark candlelit lounge. Sharon R. Breese of SRB Design Studio, Belle du Cray, Janet Gander Guy, Magi Myggen and Michelle van Fleet of Molina Home each had an area and used the shop furniture and accessories to create a unique look and give us ideas. Since Opportunity Shop is primarily a furniture store, there were tables and chairs everywhere so you could sit, people-watch and eat. Food tasting was from Bacara Resort & Spa, The Berry Man, bouchon, Elements, Jonathan’s at Peirano’s (Ventura), Michael’s Catering, Chef Brenda Simon of The Secret Ingredient, Rodney’s Steakhouse at Fess Parker’s Doubletree and Village Modern Foods. Wines were from Presidio Vineyard, Zaca Mesa Winery and Domaine Ste. Michelle.

The Opportunity Shop is a division of Work Training Programs, Inc. (WTP), a non-profit organization headed up by president and CEO Cynthia Burton, who says her charity takes care of “people with disabilities and disadvantages through a wide range of vocational and independent living services.” WTP boasts an employee retention rate of 82%.

Party proceeds go to WTP. If you like good “stuff” at bargain prices, browse the Opportunity Shop at 127 West Canon Perdido Street. Or to help with WTP’s Wish List (transportation, household items, electronic equipment and housing), call the director of development at 966-3310, extension 11 or e-mail

Reborn at 76

The Santa Barbara Women’s Club annual spring fashion show began in 1930 when tennis shoes were worn for tennis, women were just stepping into pants and Elvis Presley wasn’t born. “Fun and Elegance” was the theme for 2006 with fashions by Renaissance. This consignment store owned by Joann Younger and located in La Arcada Court is also the most elegant and fun store of its kind I’ve seen. Really!

After a social hour and lunch, Renaissance manager Alice Gibson had member models of all ages and sizes in more than 50 outfits strutting the runway at Rockwood to the music of David McKee at the piano. Remember, beauty comes in all sizes. There were designer, vintage and new clothes, jewelry, hats, shoes and handbags (grandma called them pocketbooks and mom called them purses). Six-time event chair and commentator Sue Ziliotto described these great bargains.

President Doris Loomis and her board were applauding the models: Pat Brooks, Diane Bunson, Helen Caldwell, Diane Calvert, Barbara Casso, Margo Kowalski, Dottie Manzo, Margaret Sanderfer, Leslie Storr, Nicole van Dam and Nina Venegas. Sue and her committee Norma Davenport, Gail McLaren, Helen Potter and Maria Parisotto had added an Egg Day touch, Easter baskets filled with spring flowers on all the luncheon tables.

If your closet looks like “Clutter’s Last Stand,” think of Renaissance and un-clutter today.