By Mary-Justine Lanyon
(Photos by Mary-Justine Lanyon)
The drizzle that fell on the mountain on the afternoon of July 23 had the Le Grand Picnic committee members a bit on edge but the skies cleared in time for the 29th nearly annual event. Mountains Community Hospital could not hold the event during the pandemic.
At this year’s event, guests enjoyed margaritas from Papagayos, an array of appetizers from UCLA Lake Arrowhead Lodge, draft beers from the Lake Arrowhead Brewing Co., a sample of the ahi bowl from Rippin’ Bowls and a variety of desserts from the Lake Arrowhead Country Club.
Foxy’s Diner (Fox in the Woods Catering) was popular with its cheeseburgers, grilled chicken sliders, nacho bar, mac and cheese and root beer floats. Wines were available from Monte de Oro Winery.
While folks were enjoying their food and drink, DJ Clay was spinning tunes in keeping with this year’s theme: Back to the Future. More than a few guests were seen bopping to the music.
Emcee Robbin Nordsten welcomed everyone, saying they were being spirited back to a time that was simpler, the time when the hospital was opened – 1951, when it opened under the management of the Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange.
“It was heralded as one of the most modern hospitals in the nation,” Nordsten said. Later the hospital became a tax-supported special district.
Suddenly the doors of the DeLorean on display by the stage burst open and out popped Doc (Dr. Cibelli). He was joined on stage by Marty McFly (CEO Mark Turner).
Looking ahead to the future, Doc showed the sold-out crowd photos of the proposed acute care wing and the education center.
Nordsten then played a testimonial from a former patient. He related how he got COVID and thought he was fine but eventually ended up in the MCH emergency room. “I was impressed with how quickly I was taken care of,” he said. He was in the hospital for two weeks and developed septic pneumonia. One of his nurses told him, “You’re going to be OK. We’ll get you through this.”
When he was one step from intubation, MCH wanted to transfer him down the hill but there were no available beds. “I was thankful to stay at MCH rather than be transferred to a huge hospital where I would be just a number,” he said.
Nordsten then revealed the identity of the patient: DJ Clay.
“It’s the people who set us apart from all other hospitals,” said auctioneer Suzanne Cios Krainock. “Real love expresses itself in action.”
That was the perfect time for Krainock to begin the reverse auction. The goal this year was to raise nearly $100,000 to fund the purchase of 39 intravenous infusion pumps. The current pumps are nearly at the end of their lives and are past the date when the manufacturer can guarantee parts or repairs. These pumps help the hospital staff safely provide IV fluids, lifesaving medications and nutrients to the patients.
Krainock had no takers at the $50,000, $25,000 or $20,000 level. At $10,000 she got two bidders, followed by several at $5,000 and many more at $1,000, $500, $250 and $100.
“These gifts save lives,” she told the guests, who included 3rd District Supervisor Dawn Rowe.
Then it was on to the live auction. Before Krainock started on the eight items, she entertained bids for those who felt their table was the most fun. The winning bidders at $600 got light-up squid hats and blinking wine glasses and wine.
Krainock’s energy as an auctioneer resulted in some frenetic bidding. A gourmet private dinner for eight, donated by Fox in the Woods and George and Jeri Medak, brought in $2,200. A Pali Mountain adventure for 20 – “think the best birthday party ever,” Krainock said – yielded $1,200.
The “ultimate Maui experience” – a weeklong stay for six on the Kaanapali Coast – went for $8,000, the auction’s highest bid. That was followed by $6,500 for an equity membership at the Lake Arrowhead Country Club.
The Vidanta resorts in Mexico offered an eight-day stay at one of their locations for a bid of $1,800. That offer was accepted by 10 people. “You don’t have to all go together,” Krainock joked.
A sightseeing flight for two was donated by Davis Hopper in his Cessna 182. It was scooped up for $700.
Vicky Center had been strolling through the tables, displaying a beautiful and dainty diamond arrowhead ring designed and donated by Craig D. Aaron Designs. Some lucky lady got it for $1,600.
And the final live auction item was a custom watercolor portrait of a pet or person – to be done from a photograph by MCH Foundation board member Midge Reisman. When the bidding got intense between one guest and CEO Mark Turner, Krainock suggested they each win at a bid of $1,100.
Three gold coins, donated by Neale and Patricia Perkins – one in memory of the late Barbara Doutt – were raffled off.
The silent auction items had been available online for several days prior to the event. Those winners and amounts were not announced at Le Grand Picnic.
What was announced, by Kim McGuire, the executive director of the MCH Foundation, is that this year’s Le Grand Picnic raised $281,000.