The Antelope Valley Country Club banquet room was transformed by members of our local Circle beginning at noon on October 24th. A four tiered altar or “ofrenda” was built on a 22 foot base and ornately decorated with bright orange paper marigolds called “cempatuchil”, tiny orange lights and flickering candles, ceramic and wood santos, fruits and sweets of all kinds, a bottle of beer, wine, coffee and tea with glasses and cups. Guests were invited to bring pictures of loved ones who had departed to place on the “ofrenda”. Thirteen large round tables for eight with black tablecloths and brightly colored napkins along with centerpieces of traditional woven bags from Aguacatan, Guatemala were the centerpieces. Each bag had brightly colored tissue paper peaking out. Ornate “papel picado” adorned the silent auction table as well as the ofrenda. With lively Guatemalan marimba and guitar music, over 90 guests entered the room at 5:30 and were offered hors d’oeuvres of papaya, watermelon, pineapple and melonsprinkled with chile and lime juice. A no host bar was set up near the tipica table. Caroline Bernal and Maru Trimmerhad designed the evening’s multipage program which included informational pages of our Friendship Bridge support Circle, Day of the Dead as well as a detailed description of silent auction items. They smoothly and efficiently checked guests in at the beginning and end of the evening.
Chice Davison and Jean Monte were very helpful at the tipica table and by the end of the evening, very little of it remained. Roxie Patterson conducted a very successful 50/50 split in which an additional funds were raised. Also contributing to the success of the evening were Vivian Kamori, Jane Zeok, Ricky Perkins, and Mary O’Malley.. Long distance members attending were Penelope Curtis, Laurie Piccolotti, Lindy Smelthurst and Sat Akal.
Guests were welcomed at 6:15 by Emcee Constancia Leshin and because the evening had been meticulously planned by event chair, Caron Trataris, there was a wonderful flow to it. A short modern dance presentation followed with four dancers from Hidden Entropy Movement Project directed by Rochelle Guardado, who wore huipiles and black tights, their faces painted in Day of the Dead theme, who presented an improvisational modern dance near the “ofrenda”. Dinner was served shortly afterwards and consisted of a South of the Border Coleslaw, Vegetarian Ceviche, Black Mole Chicken, Spanish Rice, Black Beans, Roasted Vegetables, Fresh Fruit Salad, as well as Tortillas and Salsa. The dessert was a very rich and delicious chocolate bread pudding.
After dinner, the compelling 2012 Friendship Bridge video was shown followed by a short presentation by Constancia about the latest news from Friendship Bridge. Everyone was quite enthusiastic about the anticipated emergence of Friendship Bridge branded merchandise, health insurance, savings program as well as agricultural assistance. Noted local Guatemalan artist and writer, Edwin Vasquez passionately shared his thoughts about current political and economic issues in his country of birth. Everyone was visibly moved.
Our small but mighty Circle raised over $10,000 and we are quite pleased. Many in attendance left very inspired and requested that we repeat the event in 2014. It would be our 4th Day of the Dead Fundraiser. Some inquired about future Insight Trips as they wanted to experience the organization in a more intimate manner. Still others decided to join our Circle. As for the members of our Circle, we packed everything and left the venue, very pleased with our efforts!