The first good sign was the parking.
There wasn't any.
I pulled up to Avila's El Ranchito Mexican Restaurant in Costa Mesa on Nov. 17 and could barely get into the lot. So I parked a couple of blocks away.
The minor inconvenience was a sign of a healthy crowd, I thought to myself, as I walked toward the Estancia High Football fundraiser sponsored by the Daily Pilot, Los Angeles Times and Estancia boosters.
There were streamers, cheerleaders, banners and a crowd packed as tight as any huddle at the door, on the patio and in the foyer. There were players and families, politicians and business leaders, and alumni from many classes filling the place.
The event would be a success, I thought.
And now that the receipts are in, I can say that it was.
The restaurant plans to donate $1,000, about 20% of the profits that night, to the football program, said owner Maria Elena Avila, a Westside saint if there ever was one.