Women of Chapman’s Annual Christmas at The Ritz a Resounding Success

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Special to the Indy by OCSocialScene.com

With the lavishly festive décor throughout, a visit to The Ritz during the holidays is “un must.”  If the holiday spirit doesn’t move you when visiting The Ritz during the holidays, probably nothing will! So when I received the invitation to the Women of Chapman’s 26th Annual “Christmas at The Ritz” I couldn’t RSVP fast enough.

Held every year on the first Saturday in December, this year’s event was again a sell-out, welcoming more than 350 guests for the time-honored champagne and martini garden reception followed by a four-course lunch.

As guests arrived on The Ritz red carpet, a quartet of Dickens carolers performed. All were greeted by a welcoming line which included President Kathy Hamilton, Honorary Event Chairs Kim Smith (also Chair of the event) of Smith-Walker Foundation and Deedee and Don Sodaro, Chapman University President Jim Doti and jolly St. Nick.

An informal trunk show featuring glamorous fashions and jewels from Mi Place in Corona del Mar took place during lunch, with models casually mingling throughout the rooms. Mi Place also provided the ladies with colorful camisoles and the men were given cigars as parting event favors. A lively opportunity drawing was held during dessert featuring a bevy of incredible prizes including the grand prize of a piece of jewelry from Harry Winston.

“Christmas at The Ritz” began 26 years ago when the late Hans Prager and his wife Charlene, a long-time Women of Chapman member, offered the restaurant for the fundraiser. The tradition continued until they sold the restaurant. Managing Partner Ray Jacobi (whose son Jason is a Chapman student) has kindly continued to support the event by offering a $2,300 dinner for 20 in the wine cellar as an opportunity prize.

The event successfully raised more than $188,000 towards their latest pledge to contribute $500,000 to the Dodge College Millennial Studios (which plans to build a back lot–the only film school in the country to have one) and $1 million to the university’s state-of-the-art Musco Center for the Arts, scheduled to open in late 2014.

The women’s support group has been a sponsor of Chapman University since 1971, and recently completed a $1 million Student Filmmaker Endowment which funds senior film projects for Chapman’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts students.

(left to right) Women of Chapman President, Kathy Hamilton, Chapman University President, Jim Doti, The Ritz Restaurant’s Managing Partner, Ray Jacobi, Tim Connaghan dressed as Santa Claus, and Christmas at The Ritz Chair, Kim Smith. — All photos by Peggy O’Donnell
Harry Winston Salon Director, Michael Moser, presenting the grand prize, a pair of Harry Winston diamond drop earrings, to winner Sandy Chiles, a former Christmas at The Ritz chair.
Mi Place owners Mary Rubenstein and Iris Frankel being thanked for their contribution as fashion/jewelry presenter for Women of Chapman’s 26th annual Christmas at The Ritz.
Christmas at The Ritz committee members Rusty Hood, Donna Bianchi, Marci Hollander and Sue Hook.
Christmas at The Ritz underwriters Donna and Dave Janes. Dave is vice chair of Chapman University’s board of trustees and Donna is a longtime WOC member.



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