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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on December 13th, 2012, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 13, Issue 40 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 13, Issue 40

Hobnobbing With Helen

BY HELEN ANN THOMAS

What is more fun than holiday hobnobbing?


It's a wonderful life:
Sandra and Robert Dickerson paused on Sunday evening, Dec. 9, at their home during the third annual (and final?) Candlelight House Tour and Progressive Dinner.
PHOTOS BY HELEN ANN THOMAS

Particularly if said hobnobbing is at the third annual (and possibly final) Candlelight House Tour, held on Sunday evening, Dec. 9?

If you weren’t the high bidder on one of three nonprofit Candlelight Tour auction items, eat your heart out. You missed a memorable evening.

For three years, this Palm Court progressive dinner has been one of the very nicest ways to mark the holiday season in Santa Maria.

Judy and Erik Frost celebrated her upcoming birthday by winning the live auction item at a PCPA Foundation gala. Susan Rees, Larry and Peggy Greer, and Gillian Cole-Andrews helped the birthday girl celebrate.


No Scrooges here!
Dick Weldon (left), Eddie Taylor (center), and Jim and Kelly White O'Neill (right) joined up for the third annual Candlelight House tour and Progressive Dinner. The O'Neills were one of three host couples.

I ran into the ebullient Frosts and their entourage as my group crossed paths with their group on a dark street, illuminated by colorful Christmas lights.

The game plan for the evening was this: Three groups of 10 trooped from one beautifully decorated home to another (three houses in all) in the historic, charming, and utterly delightful Palm Court district near the Santa Maria Inn.

Each house was chockablock full of wonderful Christmas trees, wreaths, candles, twinkly lights, and Santas, not to mention wines, bubbly, and fine food.

Everyone, of course, was all agog at the magnificent and massive display of décor and colored lights masterminded by Robert Dickerson in his front yard.

Being high bidder on the tour at a Discovery Museum, United Way, or PCPA Foundation event entitled said bidder and nine guests to enjoy a truly special event.

Let’s start at the home of Richard and Lynn Fernbaugh, where the United Way group convened.


Palm Court pair:
Richard and Lynn Fernbaugh were another of the three host couples for the third annual Candlelight Home Tour and Progressive Dinner, pictured here in the beautifully restored kitchen of their Palm Court home.

To my delight, a Santa Barbara harpist, Simone Salmon, played Christmas carols in the family room, while the guests sipped champagne and nibbled on appetizers. Was this not just as classy as could be?

At the same time, another group was at the home of Jim and Kelly White O’Neill, where attorney and local historian Dick Weldon provided another class act and entertainment via tales of Santa Maria’s past.

Still another group was at the home of Robert and Sandra Dickerson, where a singer, keyboardist, and guitar player entertained.

Each group left its first house tour stop and went on to a second house for the main course. This year, roast loin of pork, mashed potatoes, and green beans were on the menu. There was a plentiful array of gourmet accoutrements like homemade cranberry and pesto sauces, caramelized onions, red peppers, and mashed potato toppings.

At the O’Neills, I hobnobbed with the stellar “staff” helpers Roy Reed, Katy King, Kelly’s mother Ellen White, and Palm Court cook Jackie Hedden.

After dinner, tour guests went on to a third house for dessert: cookies, tarts, eggnog with whipped cream, and brandy.

This event was the brainchild of Sandra Dickerson, chairman of the board of United Way and a passionate advocate of United Way’s literacy programs.

Dickerson’s neighbor, Kelly White O’Neill, executive director of the Discovery Museum, happily signed on to participate, as did Lynn Fernbaugh, another Palm Court neighbor, who also works with Dickerson at Your People Professionals.

Declared Jim Draper, United Way high bidder, “This is much more than I expected!”

Hobnobbing sends gobs of good wishes to all her kind friends and readers.

If you want to hobnob with Helen, you may contact her at helenthom232@yahoo.com.