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051  pbsThe PBS SoCal gala is always great fun, and this year’s was particularly so. Honoring PBS’s long-running Sesame Street‘s nonprofit educational component Sesame Workshop brought a variety of PBS kids characters to the party, with photo ops for all!

Another highlight was meeting the gala’s special guest Mark Walberg from PBS’s Antiques Road Show. I am glued to the television every Monday night when the latest show is aired with host Walberg. I love to see what valuables people bring to the show. When Mark welcomed everyone to the gala, he joked about the confusion of his name with a renowned actor, “If you’re not familiar with Antiques Road Show, I’m not the Mark Wahlberg you expected!”

Returning gala chairs Peggy Goldwater Clay and Ardelle St.George greeted the crowd of more than 400 guests, who gathered at Atlantic Aviation at John Wayne Airport for the celebration. I loved the dinner tables’ color scheme, showcasing orange table covers and orange, purple and turquoise hydrangea floral centerpieces stuffed with glasses, books, pencils, etc. – all tools of learning. And, I especially liked event designer/producer Michael Mora featuring gala underwriter’s names on street signs throughout the room, with a nod to Sesame Street. It was delightful! The Island Hotel-catered dinner, by the way, was delish, with a great old-fashioned chicken pot pie and a scrumptious “Make Your Own S’mores” dessert.

The honor to Sesame Workshop was presented to its President/CEO H. Melvin Ming, who said of its mission, “It is a great privilege to help children perform better and reach their highest potential.” The introduction for the other honoree, Patricia S. Harrison, who is President/CEO of The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, was impressive. A video, which was compiled by PBS SoCal’s Maria Hall-Brown, featured a myriad of important individuals like Colin Powell, Ken Burns, Doris Roberts, and Jim Lehrer, who lauded Harrison for her leadership and vision. An appreciative Harrison said of the video, “I’m truly speechless!”

PBS SoCal’s 2012 Community Champions were also recognized and included Maynard Brown, a Crenshaw High School teacher; Rueben Martinez from Chapman University and Libreria Martinez Books and Art Gallery; Vital Link from Orange County; Women’s Leadership Council Arrowhead United Way from Inland Empire, and from Los Angeles County, Centro Latino for Literacy, Heal the Bay, Japanese American National Museum, Junior Achievement of Southern California, School of Wheels, and YMCA of Greater Long Beach.

Other event highlights included a performance by the All-American Boys Chorus, who sang Mr. Robert’s theme song, “It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood,” and the rousing 55-member dance band, JT & California Dreamin.’ A surprise performance by “Mel and the Mel-Adjusteds” led by PBS SoCal’s President/CEO Mel Rogers and friends (Andy Russell, Jim Mazzo, Rick Reiff, and Glenn Stearns) was quite funny, while a jam-packed live auction featured unforgettable evenings with PBS notables like news personality Judy Woodruff, producer/musician Peter Asher, dancer/choreographer Desmond Richardson, and NOVA’s senior executive producer Paula Apsell. Bidding was brisk!

The gala was emceed by Real Orange hosts Ann Pulice and Ed Arnold and also featured online personalities Maria Hall-Brown, Cami Dixon and Rick Reiff. Net proceeds of $600,000 was realized for the furtherance of PSB SoCal’s focus on education.

Best Quote: PBS SoCal’s Board Co-Chair Jo Ellen Chatham opined, “PBS is not a national treasure. It is a national necessity!”

Pssst...Antiques Road Show is coming to Anaheim June 22nd!

Selected photos by Ann Chatillon