The Crowd: Candlelight illuminates local charity scene

December 17, 2013|By B.W. Cook
  • Dee Higby, Elizabeth Segerstrom and chairwoman Betty Huang raised $2.2 million for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.
Dee Higby, Elizabeth Segerstrom and chairwoman Betty… (Steve Dawson )

It was a grand night on the Orange Coast. The 40th anniversary celebration of Candlelight Concert on Dec. 6 exceeded all expectations, raising an impressive $2.2 million for the Segerstrom Center for the Arts.

The remarkable financial milestone is a testament to the skill and talent of Candlelight chairwoman Betty Huang and her partner and vice chairwoman, Dee Higby. The dynamic pair rallied 400 of the most influential citizens in Orange County to support the Segerstrom Center and honor the past chairs of the Candlelight Concerts.

The list of honorees is long and impressive and includes many women who have made an indelible mark on Orange County culture. Included in the tribute were Carol Wilken, Catherine Thyen, Elizabeth Tierney, Barbara Glabman, Marta Bhathal, Eve Ruffatto, Sally Crockett, Ruth Ding, Ronnie Allumbaugh and Elizabeth Segerstrom, to name only a few.

Chairman of the Segerstrom Center, Larry Higby — husband of Dee, who was beautifully dressed in a Dubonnet-toned strapless ball gown — welcomed the guests in the main theater in Segerstrom Center, following a lively cocktail reception held in the center foyer complete with an extravagant caviar bar generously provided by center founder Henry Segerstrom and his wife, Elizabeth.


Higby's eloquent address set the tone for the classy evening. He paid tribute to all of the donors as well as the center staff, who year after year, event after event, ensure that the Segerstrom Center for the Arts is the most important cultural icon in Orange County.

Funds raised at Candlelight Concert are earmarked to support the center's nationally recognized educational programs, which offer performing arts experiences to an estimated 300,000 students, teachers and families in the community each year. Center President Terry Dwyer followed Higby in thanking generous underwriters and acknowledging the presenting sponsor of Candlelight Concert 2013, Piaget.

As in recent seasons, the décor of Candlelight Concert was built around the removal of all of the orchestra seats in Segerstrom Hall, with party designers setting up tiered dining facing the performance stage and dance floor at the front of the center. The extravagant setup is always an awesome reveal as the crowd makes its entrance into the theater.

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