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Gala Raises Money for Storyteller Children’s Center

Supporters spy a winner in James Bond-themed party

Six-foot chandeliers reflecting onto black and silver-sequined tablecloths made for a festive and elegant atmosphere for the annual Storyteller Children’s Center gala, “Shakin’ Not Stirred,” held Oct. 16 to benefit the preschool for some of Santa Barbara’s most vulnerable children.

For the James Bond theme, many of the 350 guests dressed in “007” attire with a twist, brandishing squirt guns and rubber knives. One secret agent wannabe even wore a wetsuit topped with a tuxedo jacket and goggles to the gala, held at the Hangar, a sparkling clean garage for vintage cars on lower Anacapa Street.

But the highlight of the evening came when television writer and Montecito resident Peter Tolan made a surprise entrance by gliding overhead via a zip line and onto center stage, where he auctioned off a fabulous lineup of items, including his own vacation home in Newburyport, Mass.

“It was so much fun,” said Tolan, who is the creator of the FX Network television show, Rescue Me, and was a writer on shows such as Murphy Brown and The Larry Sanders Show.

“It’s such a worthy cause and it was great to be a part of it.”

The audience must have been impressed as well because the gala was a financial success for Storyteller, which provides quality, tuition-free early childhood education for about 70 homeless and at-risk children in Santa Barbara, as well as comprehensive support services for their families.

“I am overwhelmed with gratitude,” said Terri Allison, Storyteller’s executive director. “We could not do our work at Storyteller without the support of such a generous community.”

After the New West-catered dinner of burgers with truffle fries, guests entered the Casino Royale for craps, blackjack and roulette while Bond girls and secret agents danced.

“I loved our theme and the ladies and gentlemen looked gorgeous!” said Robyn Bartling, the event chairwoman. “Considering our challenging economic times right now, we are incredibly fortunate and grateful to all our supporters and guests for their overwhelming generosity. This event helps makes a difference in the lives of these children.”

Event planner Kim Curtis and her team spent several days transforming the Hangar into a glittering casino and nightclub. A gala committee spent the last nine months planning the event and recruiting sponsors. Committee members include Kim Blankenhorn, Dinah Calderon, Katie Chorlton, MaryAnne Contreras, Lisa Couvillion, Michele Cuttler, Tiffany Foster, Kate Gura, Denise Hinkle, Sherry Hlavaty, Sharon Hughes, Emily Jones, Victoria Juarez, Tracy Kanowsky, Jennifer McCoy, Sarah McFadden, Kristen McWilliams, Michele Meisenbach, Debby Peterson, Lizzie Peus, Alix Rabonowitz, Elizabeth Raith, Carrie Randolph, Julia Rodgers, Dana Seltzer, Rachel Stein and Melinda Werner.

An evening of alfresco dinner and dancing under the Hope Ranch stars at the home of Elizabeth and Lee Gabler was a popular party book item. Other big-ticket items included a Picasso lithograph and a stay at New York City’s ultra-hip Bowery Hotel.

Major donors to the event included Elizabeth and Kenny Slaught, Heidi and Chris Blair, Patty and John MacFarlane, Susan and Craig McCaw, McCoy Construction, Louisa Jane Judge, Elizabeth and Lee Gabler, Rincon Technology, Nancy and Mike Casey, lynda.com, Sarah and John McFadden, Rachael and Dave Stein, A.J. and Val Rice, Gordon Roddick, Daryl and John Stegall, Katie and Andy Chorlton, and Leslie and Peter Tolan.

Click here for more information on Storyteller Children’s Center or call Victoria Juarez at 805.682.9585.

— MaryAnne Contreras is a supporter of Storyteller Children’s Center.

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