Monday, October 15, 2018     Volume: 19, Issue: 32

Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 6th, 2017, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 18, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [] - Volume 18, Issue 40

Hobnobbing with Helen: The Philharmonic put on a masquerade


Masquerade Ball. Doesn’t that sound like fun?

There were masks galore at the Philharmonic Society’s annual fundraiser, held on Saturday, Nov. 18, at the Radisson Hotel. This year’s theme was—you guessed it—Masquerade Ball.

Rick Sweet and Nancy Jo Ward at the Santa Maria Philharmonic Society’s annual fundraiser, the Masquerade Ball, held on Nov. 18 at the Radisson Hotel.

Imagine a roomful of gala-goers wearing the accessory du jour. There were feathered masks and masks with long, exaggerated noses, as well as narrow “Lone Ranger” type masks, masks on sticks, and ornate gilded ones. A few gents wore the half-face masks that we associate with The Phantom of the Opera. A number of the guests were in costume.

The Philharmonic Society delivered an entertaining, festive experience for the 130 or so who bought tickets for $100. Masquerade balls originated in the 13th century in Europe. Much was made at the time of the ability to mingle among revelers whilst concealing one’s identity. I confess I had to ask a disguised Gene Martinez (accompanied by wife Deborah Whitford) if he was who I thought he was. (He was.)

“Who’s the lady in all the feathers?” someone inquired of me. Well, one of them was Lana Fleming from Arroyo Grande, whose headpiece was worthy of note. Another lady in feathers (a long, flowing boa) was Judy Hearn. She and husband Hardy were guests of honor and recipients of the society’s Legacy Award for outstanding support of the orchestra.

After checking in and accepting a flute of complimentary Champagne (this was Champagne with a capital “C”—it was French), revelers made their way to the atrium for a social hour, enhanced by the mellow background music of Brad Lusk on the vibraphone and Mike Thibault on the guitar. How often do you hear a vibraphone? This was a treat.

There is no better icebreaker than asking someone where they got their costume or mask. Of course, online was the usual response. This is where Jennifer Makepeace and Tim Bennett secured their cranberry color-coordinated period costumes.

Dennis and Bo Prescott at the Philharmonic Society’s annual fundraiser, the Masquerade Ball on Nov. 18. Bo is on the board of the Philharmonic Society and was on the gala committee.

Robert and Sandra Dickerson, Fred and Sheryn Pratt, Jackie Brunello, Dr. Roland Miller, and John Reinacher were among the crowd, as were Jerry Stinn and Lynda Gantt, Michael Nowak (the Philharmonic’s maestro), and Ann Lucas. Mrs. Lucas is the director of the Allan Hancock College Singers and had been working with Nowak for the joint holiday concert of baroque music held Dec. 2 at the First Baptist Church.

This event had a special pre-gala, fun twist in that the Gala Committee wanted to be sure that the Champagne’s quality was worthy of the evening. To that end, several Philharmonic supporters participated in a champagne tasting, “testing” several samples, that was hosted by the owners of the Grocery Outlet, Dino and Timmi Donati.

The Donatis were delighted with the committee’s willingness to be of service. It (tasting) was a tough job, but somebody had to do it. The volunteers for the chore were Lynne Garrett, Rick and Ruth Ann Ontell, and Bo and Dennis Prescott, as well as Timmi Donati (who thought the whole thing was a hoot). Champagne tasting puts a whole new slant on volunteering.

During (and after) dinner (filet, chicken, salmon, or vegetarian), accompanied by high quality wines, the Riptide Big Band, a favorite of Central Coast ballroom dancing aficionados, played live.

There was much to enjoy at this party. The ambience was awesome. 

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at

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