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I remember 20 years ago when Discovery Science Center was a sleepy little nonprofit. That has changed. Today, the celebrated center with its huge iconic “cube” is rated #3 in outreach science education in the country, had a record attendance of 526,000 visitors last year and is launching a $62 million multi-phase expansion, which will enhance science, technology, engineering, and math education and really put it on the map!

DSC’s annual gala is always great fun and is built around a theme. In the recent past, I remember a “Celebrate Earth” theme with guests dressing in “green glam or recycled chic,” and the “Out of This World” theme, in conjunction with the center’s Boeing Rocket Lab opening, brought out the martians, Spocks and Trekkies. This year’s “Under Construction: Building for the Future” theme suggested “construction chic or cocktail attire,” so they do give guests a choice, but, I must admit, I saw many more attendees dressed in hard hats and tool belts than black-tie. Longtime supporters Janet and Walkie Ray, co-chairs of the gala committee, certainly caught the spirit. Costume designer Kim Bowen created Janet’s “cube” hat and Walkie’s paper coat made out of honest-to-goodness architectural plans for the new expansion.

DSC President Joe Adams introduced the Arnold O. Beckman Award winners, who he credited with the “vision and foresight that have been instrumental to our success.”   Corporate recipient Bolar Hirsch & Jennings LLP was represented by its founding partners, with Dan Bolar, who is DSC board chair, accepting the honor and passionately expressing his belief in the institution. The individual award winner was the David Horowitz family, who has taken active leadership roles since 2006, when they became involved. “It truly is a family honor,” David said. I must tell you that the videos introducing each winner were some of the most clever, humorous footage I’ve ever witnessed. Kudos to Apples and Oranges Video Production Company for underwriting and producing them!

Expansion campaign co-chairs Jim Peterson and David Horowitz took the stage to say they predicted the Discovery Science Center would become the #1 science center in the country with the expansion. The live auction featured some hot items, including a VIP party for 300 at DSC’s new blockbuster exhibit, “Indiana Jones and the Adventure of Archaeology,” which runs through April 21, 2013, so don’t miss it!

The Stonebridge Band drew a majority of the 350 guests to the dance floor, as others departed with the latest copy of OC Metro with Adams on the cover and a great story on DSC’s expansion. Net proceeds were later announced to be an impressive $460,000. Oh, and I loved those cookies and fresh donuts at the valet stand!