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I think I’ve attended just about every Festival of Children’s Opening Night Party since its launch 11 years ago. I remember Josh Groban singing at one of the early ones, and how he blew everyone away with his magical voice. And, a few years ago, Laguna Beach artist Robert Wyland made an appearance with some of his signature life-size whale paintings.

This year’s party, held once again at South Coast Plaza’s Garden Terrace, featured a “Believe” theme and drew 420 guests, many of them representatives from more than 75 children’s charities. Delectable dishes and specialty cocktails, catered by Someone’s in the Kitchen, were inspired by the Golden Age of Hollywood, and I must admit, I really liked the “Brown Derby” cocktail with bourbon, grapefruit juice and honey! I also enjoyed the three-piece combo, who performed a pleasant blend of rock, pop and jazz throughout the party.

Festival of Children is Sandy Segerstrom Daniels baby. As Founder and Executive Director, she has encouraged and cajoled its success all along the way, including trips to Washington, D.C. with former Orange County Supervisor Tom Wilson to persuade Congress to create a National Child Awareness Month (NCAM) to recognize children’s charities nationwide. Now in its fifth year, NCAM is celebrated each September, and each September, Festival of Children’s member charities set up booths at South Coast Plaza to introduce people to their mission. The month-long festival features face painting, animal shows, dance and music performances, arts and crafts projects, amazing children’s playhouses, meeting the characters from Yo Gabba Gabba, and getting help from Hello Kitty personally with how to color a Hello Kitty backpack.

Sandy presented Yash Gupta, a 15-year-old high school junior from Irvine, with the foundation’s FRED Award (For Really Extraordinary “Do”era) for the work he has done to provide eyewear to those who can’t afford it through his Sight Learning nonprofit. Gupta was unable to accept the award because he was in India hosting an eye exam clinic, but Sandy thanked him “for setting an outstanding example for others to follow and for making such a positive difference in the world!”

All in all, the affair left you with a wonderful feeling that there are lots people doing good things for children right here in Orange County. Here! Here!

P.S. I just have to mention the pair of shoes I saw Kinga Korta wearing that night. The Sergio Rossi crystal slippers were absolutely stunning! (see photo)

Photos: Carla Rhea