The invitation had a cartoon of Al the Lobster and his beach pal Cow saying, ”Utter the word to everyone: they’ll catch waves of fun at this soirée!” Now I’ve never seen a lobster and a cow “paling” around together, but the Assistance League of Santa Barbara (ALSB) served up the fun and frivolity. Guests dusted off their cowboy hats and boots or donned their favorite Beach Boys attire. Get it? Where the turf meets the surf. Saddles and surfboards with a bit of the ‘50s thrown in. It took me awhile.

We arrived at Earl Warren Showgrounds to find vintage woodies at the party entrance where partygoers could have a complimentary photo taken. The sold-out crowd mingled, played the ring toss carnival game for wine instead of a stuffed animal, or bid on the theme baskets in the silent auction. We sat down to dine at red-covered tables with lobster bibs at each place. Auction emcee Erin Graffy and husband, Jim Garcia, were at our table. When it was announced the buffet line was open, she instructed us that the guest speaker’s table would go first. Only if you run fast!

Then, it was time for Captain Cardiac and the Coronaries as they burst through the audience and onto the stage in their shiny red tux jackets complete with 1950 pompadour hairdos and sunglasses, blasting away on their instruments. The dance floor was instantly full and rocking.

There were no hitches or glitches for co-chairs Rose Hodge and Madelyn Palley who had been planning the affair for a year along with their large committee: Dianne Davis, Mary Jane Cooper, Marlene Riemer, Jane Atwater, Jeri Beck, Rita Benz, Susan Chapman, Edith Clark, Pat DeBerry, Mary Jean Ducale, Susan Engles, Marilyn Goodfield, Sue Hebert, Charlene Heinz, Bev Hornick, Georgia Jameson, Ellie Johnson, Dot Kelly, Joan Kieding, Berni Newitt, Pam Stoney, Mycki Symons, Jan Winford and Judy Wood.

During the evening, Assistance League President Marty Silverman told the crowd, “This all-volunteer organization of three hundred fifty members donates thirty-five thousand hours a year to our eleven different charities that reach from Cuyama to Carpinteria.” Projects like Hillside House (for developmentally disabled residents), Operation School Bell (more than 20,000 local kids have received new clothing, books and backpacks), Santa Barbara Smiles (educating parents and children about dental hygiene and healthy nutrition and giving out Smiles Kits) and Fostering Friends (assisting young adults ages 17 to 20 who are in foster care or recently emancipated to achieve independent living) are all non-profits affected by Assistance League contributions. The organization, alive for 58 years, also has a Thrift Shop at 1259 Veronica Springs Road.

If you would like information about this active group, call 687-9717.

Egad Over Egan

The Granada Theatre gave another one of its “Friend Raiser” evenings, this time at SOhO for a shindig hosted by Sharol and Wayne Siemens. What a treat! It was like the old nightclub days with the young Tony-nominated star of Broadway, Susan Egan, performing.

After wine and hors d’oeuvres in the bar area we seated ourselves at cocktail tables for the show. President of the Board Harriet Miller welcomed. Executive Director Peter Frisch announced, “The Granada opens September 28, 2007. There will be eleven dressing rooms and fifty makeup stations and lots of bathrooms! There are already eighty dates booked for 2007 and 2008.”

CFO Sara Miller McCune announced, “Someone has just donated fifty thousand dollars if it can be matched.” Three minutes later she said, “We’ve done that. See me after the show if you can match another fifty thousand dollars.” This will be added to the $37 million the Granada has already put together, 74% of the $50-million goal. The cost to renovate the theatre is roughly 40% of the cost of building a new venue.

The spotlight came on for Susan Eagan who was back by popular demand for a second time. As Liz Smith from the New York Post has written, “Susan Egan is svelte, sexy, and sensational!” Now she’s not quite so svelte because she’s very pregnant, but she’s still sexy and sensational. Part of her résumé is 782 performances of “Thoroughly Modern Millie.”

It’s hard to believe when you look at the sheared off backstage from the Granada parking garage that in one short year we’ll be attending the grand opening of the Santa Barbara Center for the Performing Arts. It’s been a long haul since the organization was created back in 1983.

Serenade by the Sea

The Community Arts Music Association (CAMA) has been around for 88 years and is Santa Barbara’s oldest arts association. Its tradition is bringing some of the world’s best orchestras and recitalists here. CAMA’s International Circle is for members who make a donation of at least $1,000. The group holds special events where members get to meet some of the performers. During a recent afternoon they were gathered on the terrace and lawn of Linda and Michael Keston’s beach home overlooking the Pacific on Fernald Point Lane.

Sponsors and co-chairs Jayne Menkemeller and Nancy Wood (and husband Kent) had arranged this Serenade by the Sea with classical guitar music, wine and hors d’oeuvres – huge hunks of crab with curry sauce for dipping, the biggest shrimp I’ve ever seen and the tiniest cheeseburgers. The cover painting of nature’s seashell and coral for the invitation was done by Montecitan Victoria Hines – a perfect touch for the theme. In her future is an art show in exotic Bermuda.

Judy Smith is chair of the International Circle but had to be away so CAMA board President Bitsy Bacon welcomed these special donors and announced, “The board has just voted that CAMA will be a resident company, coming to the Granada for the next season starting September 2007.” Executive Director Mark Trueblood expressed some thoughts of CAMA guest and pianist Emanuel Ax, “who said we cannot applaud between movements? In Mozart’s day the audience clapped according to the passion they felt. We should be driven by passion not regulated by social duty.” He joked, “But if you don’t like the concert at the end, please applaud anyway!”

Past President Judy Hopkinson told us one of her goals has been to reach students and teach them classical music appreciation. CAMA started with one school four years ago and is now working in 15. Board member Dolores Hsu explained, “Two thousand students are involved from Carpinteria to Santa Maria. Docents have volunteered to help teach the three-year curriculum. Most students have no background in music.”

As Trueblood told the group, “We wouldn’t have been around for eighty-eight years if it weren’t for people like you.”

Call 966-4324 or go the for information on CAMA’s shows next season.