Despite the rain on Saturday, the Women of Chapman’s 27th Annual “Christmas at The Ritz” fundraising event was as fun and festive as ever.
Admittedly, it was a tad bittersweet since this is the last “Christmas at The Ritz” for us all. But despite that fact, the event was filled to the brim with good cheer, delicious food, excellent service and some heavy duty fundraising for the esteemed University.
A significant highlight of the event was a special announcement by Chapman University President and CEO Jim Doti, who called to the podium philanthropists James and Catherine Emmi of Newport Beach to announce the Emmi’s gift of $10 million dollars to the Chapman School of Engineering.
It was a proud moment for the Emmis, and fun to see them get the recognition for their generosity that they so richly deserve. Jimmy turned 97 over the summer, and he and Catherine both looked happy and dapper as they accepted a rousing round of applause from the capacity crowd.
As we enjoyed our luncheon which began with a famous Ritz Egg, some of us chatted about what we will miss about losing The Ritz in early 2014. Some talked about memorable dates that turned in to marriages, business lunches that changed their careers, or the simple pleasure that can only be found in enjoying the rare experience of dining in a place where nostalgia is not passé.
In my book, visiting the legendary eatery and watering hole during the holidays has been a must for many years. I remember eating escargot there for the first time when it was still located by the Newport Pier. Today, the restaurant is always decorated to the nines, and one can’t help but feel regal walking up the red carpet; twinkling red lights and holiday décor in full bloom welcoming all who enter and bringing that feeling that embodies holiday cheer.
In the gilded rooms of The Ritz are ghosts of Christmases past, old friends and new loves, prosperity, pretense, and pretend. It has successfully provided a sense of old school tradition and quality that has endured since 1977. I for one will genuinely miss it.
If you have a chance, stop in to The Ritz this holiday season and take it all in. It’ll be a last glance at a time gone by here in Newport.
Columnist Lynn Selich resides in Newport Beach. Reach her at [email protected]