Vintage airplanes and a couple hundred people smitten by them converged in a vast and spotless hangar Friday evening for a gala that launched this weekend’s Wings Over Wine Country air show.
Cocktails and appetizers of wild salmon and bruschetta began this Mustang Round-Up, hosted by volunteers of the Pacific Coast Air Museum. The organization is celebrating its 25th year and attracting public interest in its quest to significantly upgrade its presence at the Charles M. Schulz-Sonoma County Airport, where it occupies two simple buildings and keeps its historic aircraft on a dirt lot.
Friday’s fundraising party occupied the airport’s Vine Jet hangar. Through the social hour, guests enjoyed live music as they mingled, noshed and viewed the exhibited aircraft, auction items and a large-screen Powerpoint presentation on the history and ambitions of the Pacific Coast Air Museum.
As dinner wrapped up, the crowd turned its attention to a program that featured remarks by two local World War II combat veterans. There was an auction, then an appeal for donations to PCAM’s effort to construct a handsome structure ideal for air-and-space exhibits and events.
Following the dessert and thank-yous, everyone flew home. There was a major, two-day air show to prepare for.
It was as though Lena’s came back to life for one mirthful and inspiring evening.
Lena’s was the century-old Italian restaurant and special-occasion spot in downtown Santa Rosa that gave up the ghost in 1996. The Lena’s sign and the great wooden bar became elements of a new community jewel constructed there at Adams and Sixth streets — Chop’s Teen Club, a gift from the estate of Santa Rosa civic leader Charles “Chop” DeMeo.
Saturday night, the youth center’s main auditorium took on the look of a 1940s supper club for “Back to the Future … Come Back to Lena’s for the Future of our Teens.”
Guests of the benefit bash sipped donated wines and tasted appetizers prepared by the Chop’s Culinary Crew. The club’s Jam Band kept a lively beat as folks toured the spaces dedicated to technology, art, workforce readiness, culinary training, music and recording, and sports and fitness.
At the bar that long graced Lena’s, bartenders on loan from the neighboring Stark’s Steakhouse — created within the historic walls of the beloved Michele’s restaurant — mixed classic cocktails.
Dinner in the retro-dressed gym was prepared by students in the culinary program at Maria Carrillo High, and diners were serenaded by Elsie Allen High choral students.
The evening concluded just as so many had at Lena’s, with post-dinner conviviality and dancing.
So much art! And there was just enough time to examine it, swoon over it, connect with it, talk about it and bid for it at Art for Life, Saturday afternoon’s celebration of creative expression, food, wine and compassion at the Sebastopol Center for the Arts.
This was the 27th year of the lively art sale, a benefit for the Santa Rosa-based Face to Face and its mission to end AIDS/ HIV in Sonoma County. Art for Life is the major annual gala of an organization grateful to the enduring support of local artists, some of whom have contributed valuable pieces year after year.
Guests arrived at the Sebastopol center, the event’s new home, to find the great, central gallery quartered. On exhibit in each of the four sections was donated art from across the creative spectrum: paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography, jewelry, glass, ceramics.
There were about 175 pieces in all. And a bit more than three hours to peruse and choose among them. Each artwork came with the option to buy it outright, for 150 percent of the value established by the contributing artist.
Guests placed and checked on bids while socializing and savoring a rich, colorful palette of local wines and foods.