Le Petit Dejeuner

The Music Academy of the West was filled with holiday spirit: smells from spicy apple cider, frosted Christmas cookies, tiny sandwiches and a boutique of gifts from The Treasure House. The Women’s Auxiliary was having its annual fundraiser, the highlight being a runway fashion show of designer clothes from The Rack with member models strutting their stuff.

After tasting all the treats and shopping it was time to go into Lehmann Hall and find a seat for the show. Thirty-three-year employee of the Academy and longtime Civic Light Opera actor Fred Lehto serenaded the ladies with a song. He made a fashion statement of his own in a Santa hat adorned with faux black and white cow print fur and shoes to match, not to mention his bright red blazer. Moderator Rachel Bishar and Lehto commentated.

An extra bonus this year was cameo appearances from DAWG (Dog Adoption Welfare Group) a no-kill shelter. All the dogs acted like old pros in the world of couture except for one Chihuahua that sat down on the catwalk and wouldn’t budge until her person carried her off. But the dogs all need homes. As DAWG volunteer Lesley Bloomer said, “Instead of a puppy next time consider a rescue dog.” (The shelter phone is 681-0561.)

Models Kathleen Wathen, Caryl Beadel, Cathy Keneally, Janice Meaden, Pat Andersons, Renee Templeraud, Joy Frank, Lida Blue, Alma Byrnes and Kathy Friedman wore styles from designers like Escada, St. John, Versace, Bill Blass and local designer Parola, who once loaned me a dress for the Mrs. California contest. These are like new creations that are donated to The Rack for resale, a shop that is managed by Lynne LeCouvre and is open Tuesday through Saturday from 1 pm to 4 pm. So is the Treasure House, managed by Deborah Ward. You never know what bargains you might discover.

To end the morning, a full-length luxurious fox fur coat was auctioned off. For a bid of $800 one of the models, Joy Frank, walked out with the coat. Chair of the Auxiliary Kathleen Bielen explained, “The purpose of the Auxiliary is to help fund the Music Academy.” The auxiliary is also responsible for turning the campus upside down for its May Madness Sale.

Gangsters and Molls

Las Vegas came to Santa Claus Lane at the Santa Barbara Young Professionals Club Speakeasy holiday fundraiser held at the Rincon Beach Club. “Gangsters” and “molls” arrived by the dozen. I haven’t seen so many felt hats on men since my dad wore one. Feather boas were draped and dragged in Charleston fashion, but the dance of the night was swing. If you didn’t know your right foot from your left, there were complimentary lessons from Derrick Curtis of Swing Dance Kids. The Jumpin’ Jaz Band did just that. The place was jumpin’, pearls and partners were swingin’ the Lindy Hop, Jitter Bug and Balboa.

Prohibition was gone along with inhibitions. The buffet table was mobbed – pun intended. Each person got $100 of funny money and they flocked to the Lady Luck Casino to gamble it away for a great cause, Santa Barbara’s Unity Shoppe. The Shoppe’s Executive Director Tom Reed told me so enthusiastically, “We make it a truly fun experience for the kids to come in and choose things they need. Families must qualify and they rarely come back after a few visits. They want to be independent, but need a little boost.”

Gambling winners could turn in their winnings for raffle tickets, and the big prize was a new Vespa scooter. KEYT’s John Palminteri had a big job as emcee over the noisy, fun “Great Gatsby” crowd of 300. That’s why they’re called the Young Professionals. All the guests left with a bag full of spa goodies from one of the sponsors, Jaqua.

Club President Sam Sosa said, “There are about two hundred members in our Club.” PR and advertising chair Jeanne Bergin explained that the group chooses a different charity each year. “This year we pledged five thousand dollars to the Unity Shoppe. If there’s more they will get it.” Other board members in attendance were newsletter publisher Justin Rowe, fundraising coordinator Tony Sparks, special events co-chairs Amie Parrish and Mary Lynn Harms, vice president Joey Staggs, technical services coordinator Rob Brandt and membership director Jessica Brickley.

For more information regarding the Young Professionals Club, call 898-9407 or for the Unity Shoppe call 965-9051. Merry Berries!