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The Crowd: Lighting up for a good cause

VIP group turns out to support Balboa Bay Club's 1221 Scholarship Fund for college-bound students from Newport-Mesa.

August 08, 2013
  • Todd Pickup, Joe Moody and Dieter Hissen help raise $50,000 for student scholarships at the 19th Gentlemen's Smoker at the Balboa Bay Club.
Todd Pickup, Joe Moody and Dieter Hissen help raise $50,000… (Ann Chatillon )

The 19th annual Gentlemen's Smoker and Lobster Clambake welcomed 150 handsome men in blue blazers and khaki trousers for a summer beach event beyond compare. It was the major men's fundraiser for the Balboa Bay Club's annual 1221 Scholarship Fund benefiting students from the Newport-Mesa Unified School District.

The 1221 fund, established some 15 years ago, grants annual scholarships exceeding $100,000 to help high-performing local students meet their college financial needs. The Smoker, considered one of the last bastions of the male-dominated social gatherings, was originally the brainchild of hotelier Henry Schielein, now in retirement after serving the Balboa Bay Club for nearly two decades.

Schielein's tradition, which he originally made famous at Boston's Ritz-Carlton hotel and later at international locations in Europe and Asia, was adopted and updated by the new ownership of the Balboa Bay Club, led by the Richard Pickup family, including its executive board consisting of Todd Pickup, Kevin Martin, Tim Busch, Steve Arnold, Kory Kramer, Joe Moody and Rick Weiner in addition to Richard Pickup.

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The men in charge worked with event organizers Malcolm Smith, Aaron Trent, master of ceremonies John Wortmann (chairman of the board of governors of the Balboa Bay Club) and Peter Buffa (Costa Mesa-based businessman and former mayor) to produce a very special evening that raised close to $50,000 net from live and silent auction proceeds earmarked for the 1221 Scholarship Fund.

As the jazz orchestra played on, a lavish dinner of filet and lobster was served to the men at sunset at round tables covered in white linen set on the beach lawn fronting the main channel of Newport Harbor. Cigars from many of the world's exclusive makers were continuously distributed throughout the night. It was all part of a $275-per-person ticket to be a part of the fraternal gathering.

The VIP crowd included a cross section of local influence peddlers. Among the smokers were Tony Wilson, PBS SoCal's Rick Reiff, artist Michael Bryan, Richard Moriarty, John Daniels, R.J. Brandes, Mike Lawler, Gregson Hall, David Chou and world famous cigar impresario Nash Patel. Also in the crowd were Lynn Caswell, Michael Rodriquez, Alex Lukoff, Sam Nichols, Glenn Schmitt, Bill O'Rourke, Balboa Bay Resort's Dieter Hissin and Schielein.

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