It was a picture perfect evening last Friday as we arrived at the Great Park for the Foundation for the Great Park’s “Summer Solstice Celebration” fundraiser to commemorate the first day of summer and honor Foundation Chair, Marian Bergeson for her tireless leadership helping the Great Park fulfill its education mission.
As we enjoyed the longest day of the year, the event unfolded beautifully thanks to the top-notch planning by event co-chairs Lizanne Witte and Rosemary Ward.
Superintendent Emeritus, O.C. Department of Education, Bill Habermehl, acted as Master of Ceremonies, giving a warm welcome to Senator (Ret.) Bergeson, who took to the podium with her usual aplomb.
Devoted to championing education discovery and always open to supporting innovative education initiatives, Marian has a style and grace that is unequaled. It goes without saying that it is an honor for me to know her.
As we shared some delicious appetizers family style (including a fabulous edamame hummus I couldn’t get enough of) across long, fanciful picnic tables bejeweled with bright yellow sunflowers, I took notice of how truly beautiful the park is becoming. Slowly, but surely, little changes can be seen if you stop and take it in. I’d love to see a main entrance to the park to create more of a destination feel upon arriving there… but I digress.
As the evening progressed, we were served more delicious street food faire by The Lime Truck, a great choice for the catering. As I am a Food Network junkie, it was fun to see them in action after winning the second season of the network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” Casual in delivery but super fresh and bright on the palette, the two neon green trucks parked nearby kept the food coming out hot and tasty.
The sun began to set, and with the big orange Great Park balloon shining brightly above our heads, it was a truly picturesque affair. My favorite part of the event came when guests were treated to a unique, interactive musical experience – that of a drum circle.
Along with about 30 other guests from various tables, I volunteered to get in on the rhythm. A huge circle was formed, we were each given a large bongo drum to hold between our knees and away we went, drumming in sync, creating a hypnotic melody – amateur percussionists all smiling away like little kids. Thanks to the help of some professional drummers and a fire-twirling dancer who led the pack, we didn’t sound half bad. It was a great addition to the evening.
The Dave House and His Magic House Band played a great selection of rock covers throughout the evening and folks ventured out to the dance floor which was packed to the gills with summer solstice revelers by the end of the night.
The event also showcased the U.S. Department of Energy’s Solar Decathlon and Energy XPO that is coming to the Great Park October 3-13, 2013.
Recognizing the tremendous impact the Decathlon will have on the entire Southern California region, the Foundation is taking a leadership role in supporting education programs to be featured at the Solar Decathlon and the first-ever Clean+Renewable+Efficient Energy XPO. Proceeds from the event will go directly to support these programs.
Since 2000, the Foundation’s role has been to generate support throughout Orange County and beyond for the development and operation of the Great Park. Their vision evolves from the promise that healthy communities and happy families will thrive with a Great Park growing in their midst.
Because the park is just a hop, skip and a jump from Newport Beach, their efforts will surely have an impact for generations to come who will visit and enjoy its vast offerings, some day becoming a truly remarkable Orange County destination. Visit their website at orangecountygreatpark.com.
Columnist and amateur bongo player Lynn Selich is the founder and editor-in-chief of OCSocialScene.com. She can be reached at [email protected]om.