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The Crowd: An evening for The Mission

September 30, 2011|By B.W. Cook

Arguably it is one of the most beautiful social events on the fall calendar in Orange County.

Romance of The Mission, presented by the Mission Preservation Foundation of Mission San Juan Capistrano, unfolded Sept. 16. The event welcomed some 400 patrons to an al fresco dining experience illuminated by candlelight flickering on the tables and by the night stars shining in the heavens above.

In a poetic sense, the setting remains as it was in the time of its founder, Fr. Junípero Serra, and his band of missionaries and Native Americans.

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The evening is a significant fundraiser for Mission preservation, a cause that is close to the hearts of men and women in the community who wish to preserve the historic legacy of California's earliest settlers to the new world. For some, the connection is spiritual, deriving from a Catholic faith. For others, it is historical and cultural, a connection to California roots.

For all, the need is real for no public funds from California's treasury and no private funds from the Catholic church (other than mission donors specifically) help to restore, maintain and preserve this magnificent structure.

This year some $204,000 (net) was collected from gala donors earmarked for preservation of the Gate House Project and also for financial support of the Mission's traveling exhibits. Each season, gala organizers focus on a different and specific restoration project.

Executive Director of The Mission Preservation Foundation Mechelle Lawrence-Adams, stunning in vintage Valentino, welcomed distinguished guests and major donors, including Foundation President George O'Connell and his wife Eden, Wylie and Bette Aitken, Jim and Sheila Peterson, Art and Gaye Birtcher, Janet Curci, Tony and Melinda Moiso, and Carol and Don Dorkowski.

Also front and center for Mission preservation were Jan and Warren Siegel, Connie and Peter Spenuzza, Mozelle and Myron Sukut, Michael Hagan, Natalie Halfacre and Joan Irvine Smith.

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