Orinda Woman’s Club 35th Annual Festival of Trees Pandemic Era Success

(Sally Hogarty, Photographer)
Maryann Aude (right) was one of the models at the Orinda Woman’s Club Festival of Trees fashion show.

    A carefully planned and well-executed strategy for guest safety and enjoyment made this year’s Festival of Trees a pandemic era fundraising success. Attendance was limited to no more than 300 for an annual event that usually draws over 400 guests.
    All attendees either pre-registered their proof of vaccination or showed proof at the door and were given a silicone wristband to wear, facilitating their movement inside and outside the Marriott San Ramon, where the event was held.
    Orinda Woman’s Club and Festival of Trees Committee members Charlene Antal, Betty Brotherton, Janet Nelson and Donna Schuppert, handled reservations.
    Guests were encouraged to bid on over 60 silent auction items. These included a vacation in Vermont, a stay at Hotel Drisco in San Francisco, collector dolls, handmade quilts and jewelry, bottle of excellent wines and gift certificates to Postino, Shelby’s, Tutu’s and Trader Vic’s.
    Amazing baskets, trees and wreaths, beautifully decorated and lovingly created and donated by Orinda Woman’s Club members, friends and local businesses, were displayed along the wide hallway outside the Bishop Ranch Ballroom, enticing guests to buy raffle tickets for a chance to win one.
    The luncheon salads, prepared by the Marriott catering staff, received rave reviews from guests, who were able to remove their masks and enjoy both the meal and the opportunity to visit with friends.
    ABC Channel 7 News Anchor Dan Ashley once again presided as Master of Ceremonies. He introduced the major beneficiaries of this year’s event – Assistance League Diablo Valley and the Community Service Committee of the Orinda Woman’s Club.
    Ashley offered stories of how these organizations have helped those most needy in our communities and encouraged all present to continue their support. He also announced the 25 very happy raffle winners.
    This year’s fashion show was a departure from the New York style runway format used in past years. Patti Camras, Chairperson for Fashion Houses, enlisted the two local fashion houses who were featured. Harper Greer of Lafayette presented an eclectic mix of fashions, and online merchant Mahsa (www.wearmahsa.com) of San Ramon offered understated, yet bold designs.
    Most models were Orinda Woman’s Club members or friends who sauntered and twirled their way through the ballroom, posing at each table tearoom-style to allow guests to see the fashions up close.
    While final numbers were not available at press-time, Festival of Trees staff members felt confident proceeds would exceed $30,000.
    The Orinda Woman’s Club will use its share of the proceeds to support local charitable organizations.
    In the past, the club has donated to Seniors Around Town, Monument Crisis Center, White Pony Express, NAMI of Contra Costa County, Renaissance Scholars and many others. Assistance League Diablo Valley will use its share of the proceeds to help fund Operation School Bell Common Threads program, which will supply $100 in new clothing to homeless children in three Contra Costa County school districts
    For more information about the Orinda Woman’s Club, visit www.orindawomansclub.org.

Suzanne Murillo can be reached at suzannemurillo@gmail.com.

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