Santa Paula Times

23 Skidoo and Oh, you kid! Moonlight at the Ranch IV guests (left to right) David Shea, Mary Shea, Lani Schuck and Ben Schuck dressed the part for “The Roaring 20’s!” celebration that benefited the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation and Chamber of Commerce. The celebration was again a sell out, drawing about 1,000 guests to Limoneira Ranch to party with flyboys, dames, mobsters and flappers.

Moonlight: Crowd has rat-a-tat partying with flyboys, dames & Costner!

September 22, 2010
Santa Paula News

A sold out crowd had a rat-a-tat time partying with flyboys, flappers, mobsters, dames and famed actor/director Kevin Costner at Saturday’s Moonlight at the Ranch IV: “The Roaring 20’s!” which drew 1,000 guests to Limoneira Ranch. The September 18 Moonlight - which benefited the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation and Chamber of Commerce - featured tastings of delicious cuisine from almost 50 regional restaurants and no-host bars offering “hooch” and fine wines from area vintners.

Kevin Costner, who played famed G-Man Eliot Ness in the 1987, hit film “The Untouchables,” was Moonlight at the Ranch IV’s honorary chairman and attended the earlier evening portion of the celebration. The acclaimed actor and Academy Award-winning director graciously chatted with Moonlight guests and posed for photographs.

“I don’t believe it,” and Suzanne North of Ventura said friends in Santa Paula “have been after me for years to come to a Moonlight... and here I am with Kevin Costner!” North, like all first time Moonlight attendees, vowed to return next year.

The celebration, per Moonlight tradition, was split into two segments. This year the cocktail party was held at Limoneira Park and bocce ball courts before moving on to The Eclipse Club, Moonlight’s own giant speakeasy. Limoneira Park was filled with displays centered on notable events and characters of the Roaring 20s, where guests enjoyed era-centric top tunes and welcomes from leading celebrities - including Babe Ruth and “Lucky Lindy” famed aviator Charles Lindbergh - of the Jazz Age.

There was a long line of vintage 1920’s vehicles lent to the event by Moonlight supporters, and an airplane on display provided by the Aviation Museum of Santa Paula. All in all the venue evoked the era that defined America for the enjoyment of guests, most of whom wore costumes or their creations to reflect 1920’s fashions and characters.

Bob and Becci Orlando have never missed Moonlight, and again they went all out to embrace the theme. “This is swell!” said Bob, attired in full sheik regalia. “No, I’m not Valentino,” Bob said, but rather his costume reflected a more literary as well as rough and tumble character “T. E. Lawrence,” the famous “Lawrence of Arabia.” Becci Orlando was dressed in a glamorous dress, sequins glittering in the late afternoon sun.

Gary and Nancy Nasalroad were selling fine wines and looked like 1920’s fashion plates. “People are really enjoying it,” said Nancy, and Gary agreed, noting the recorded background tunes from the 1920s performed by the original artists “really are great - that was really music!”

There was plenty of “Making Whoopee!” leading up to the opening of The Eclipse Club by owner “Da’ Chairman of the Board” AKA Police Chief Steve MacKinnon, the Moonlight chairman, who directed the crowd to the wide expanse between the Limoneira Company headquarters and packinghouse. The buildings were constructed in the 1920s and respectively reflect Craftsman and Art Deco design influences.

An eight-foot-diameter moon looked down at the Moonlight crowd and a Paper Moon, famous through generations of photographs that reached its peak of popularity in the 1920s, was ready for guest posing.

Restaurants from throughout Ventura and Santa Barbara counties greeted guests and offered tastings where the centerpiece bar area was kept busy under shimmering chandeliers. VIP Seating was on the porches, although some major sponsors, such as Lee Cole and Calavo, preferred seating close to the stage where Men on the Moon rocked the joint and those hoping to dance their gams off crowded onto the checkerboard dance floor. The dancing was proceeded by a skit pitting the mob against G-Men and firefighters that had plenty of action and a happy ending - for public safety that is.

Moonlight featured a Chinese Raffle with tickets sold by Santa Paula Police Explorers, and a silent auction offering a group vacation trip to Limoneira’s Windfall Farms and a unique “staycation” package of a day of training with the SPPD Swat Team and a SPFD Firehouse Dinner.

There was plenty of joshing in the tradition of the 1920s when cracking wise was the rule of the day. “Moonlight is just the best fun!” said Lori Beesley of Simi Valley, who attended her second Moonlight with husband Mike and friends Jennifer and Tom Wineman of Newbury Park, celebrating their wedding anniversary.

MacKinnon later declared the evening a success: “All I heard during that night was how much fun our guests were having... there were lots of comments that this Moonlight was the best one yet. It was another sell out event and we’re pleased with the support,” although at this time monetary results are still being tabulated.

Not needing to be finalized is the Moonlight fun quota: “We saw people with past themes that dressed up,” but this year, MacKinnon said, “90 percent dressed up, and hopefully we can keep that up for years to come.”

Each Moonlight “requires eleven months of planning and the committee will start buckling down” in coming months to start shaping Moonlight at the Ranch V. MacKinnon said, “Anyone who wants to give us ideas” or offer input is welcome to visit and follow the email instructions.

A video of the event will be posted soon on YouTube, which now has videos of highlights from past Moonlight at the Ranch celebrations.