The Crowd: Michael Bolton and Chicago entertain guests at Candlelight Concert 2017
B.W. Cook
Thursday, January 4, 2018

The original article was published by
The Daily Pilot.

In the finest Orange County tradition, Segerstrom Center for the Arts’ Candlelight Concert unfolded at holiday time with exceptional grace and elegance.

The 2017 gala, billed s “A Night To Remember” and themed around iconic images of Chicago, marked the 44th annual Christmas season fundraiser for the center.

The event honored major benefactors Julianne and George Argyros who are well-known for the extensive outreach of their considerable philanthropy.

The Orange County power couple made a multi-million-dollar gift to the center providing principal funding for the new Argyros Plaza which debuted earlier in the 2017 season.

They and their extended close-knit family of children and grandchildren remain dedicated in a very personal and down-to-earth way with the community in which they have lived and prospered for their entire adult lives.

Greeting the arriving crowd of some 400 well-wishers attending the gala, Julianne and George embraced long-time friends Dee and Larry Higby, Betty and SL Huang, Tracy and Roger Kirwan, Susan and Tim Strader, Carol and Kent Wilken and Maralou and Jerry Harrington, among many others.

The big event, chaired with enormous effort and great style by Carol and Mark Perry, welcomed the VIP crowd at sunset for a lavish cocktail reception.

Honorary co-chairs Ronnie Allunbaugh (always among the best dressed), Sandi Jackson and Sandi Simon stood proudly by the Perrys accepting accolades for raising an impressive $1.6 million. Clearly the news of success set the tone for a most festive and joyous celebration.

And celebrate they did.

Thanks to the generous underwriting of Presenting Sponsor Bank of America joined by both Merrill Lynch and U.S.Trust, the party — from first cocktail to the last bit of decadent dessert — was indeed a night to remember.

Revelers in the O.C. celebrity crowd included past Candlelight chairs Shanaz and Jack Langson, Kelly and Jim Mazzo, the classy couple Barbara and Alex Bowie of Big Canyon, the warm and wonderful Marta and Raj Blathal, the dynamic grand dame Zee Allred, Rebecca and respected architect Carl McLarand, philanthropists and art aficionados Sue and Ralph Stern, Jaynine and Dave Warner, Eve and Mike Ruffato and center board member Sally Crockett and her husband Randy Crockett of Pelican Point.

Also among the major underwriting sponsors were a large contingent of Segerstrom family members representing support from the Segerstrom Family Foundation.

Elizabeth Segerstrom, widow of Henry Segerstrom and escorted by Nigel Lythgoe, joined family matriarch Ruth Ann Moriarty.

Jennifer and Anton Segerstrom celebrated with cousins Jeanne Moriarty escorted by Hans Ewen, Sally and Toby Andrews, Susan and Steve Perry and Marilyn and Richard Moriarty.

Chairs working with designers chose a more understated and classy theme for the 2017 party reveal.

Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Michael Bolton delivered an intimate pre-dinner concert on the Segerstrom stage.

As Bolton concluded his set of romantic ballads, the curtain rose and the crowd was invited on stage for dinner. Chandeliers hung from the rafters and tables were festooned with massive blooms of white on white florals surrounded by candlelight. Champagne flowed as a lavish holiday dinner was created and served by the Patina Restaurant Group.

Handsome couples table hopping on stage during dinner were surrounded by a star-lit backdrop of the Chicago skyline.

Center board chair John Ginger and wife Toni, Bette and Wylie Aitkin, Deborah and Larry Bridges, Sandy Segerstrom Daniels, Idit and Moti Ferder, Jackie Glass, Nancy and Rick Moth, Elizabeth and Paul Mirage, Tara and David Trood, Trish O’Donnell, Joyce and Tom Tucker, Steve and Cindy Fry and center President Terry Dwyer were all front and center for the annual bash.

At the conclusion of dinner, which was capped by a Chicago-themed dessert, the lights dimmed and then illuminated, revealing the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame group Chicago.

Lyrics from one of the group’s hit songs, “You’re the Inspiration” brought guests to their dancing feet. Not an inch of extra space was available on the floor. Hostesses distributed dancing slippers to the ladies, while seated guests for the concert snacked on boxes of Cracker Jacks which were first introduced in Chicago. All the special touches were courtesy of Chicago native chair Carol Perry.

The Chicago finale marked an invitation to the crowd to leave the Segerstrom stage and enter Argyros Plaza for midnight Chicago-style hot dogs, hot chocolate and treats provided by a food truck sponsored by Kia Motors.

Additional corporate sponsors David Yurman, Louis Vuitton, Mikimoto and United Airlines joined VIP sponsors Janet Curci, Twyla Martin, Barry and Heidi Aronoft, Toni and Steve Berlinger, Britt and Robert Meyer, Mindy and Glenn Stearns, Karyn and Damon Shelly, Linda and Scott Flanders, Jim Hsu and Angela Hsu.

Wishing “The Crowd” readers a spectacular 2018.

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