When it comes to creative and crazy Halloween pumpkins, no idea was too difficult to pull off for the elected officials and other community leaders who decorated more than 40 gourds for the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits annual Be Our Guest luncheon.
Want a paean to America during election season? No problem. Santa Clara County Supervisor Joe Simitian and his staff painstakingly sliced up replicas of America’s founding documents — the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and the Bill of Rights — and carefully pasted them around two pumpkins on an autumn-themed display titled “Don’t Squash Democracy.”
“It was a team effort, and we labored long and hard,” said Simitian, whose “There Ought to Be a Law” contests have famously engaged the citizenry. “The other name we had in mind was ‘Gourd Bless America.’ “
When the fundraiser started 11 years ago, the main draw was the “celebrity servers” — who wouldn’t want to be served salad and iced tea by Simitian or some other public servant?. But over time, the pumpkin decorating has taken over. The servers — and the staff members behind them — try to outdo each other every year.
“Every year, it’s absolutely amazing to see the creativity the servers and their teams use to tie in current events to Halloween,” said Patricia Gardner, the outgoing executive director of the Silicon Valley Council of Nonprofits. Her impending departure from the job after 18 years was the subject of the pumpkin made by San Jose Housing Director Jacky Morales-Ferrand.
In addition to that “farewell” pumpkin, Thursday’s lunch in downtown San Jose also featured sugar skull pumpkins, baby shark pumpkins, Minions from “Despicable Me” and a Hogwarts pumpkin with various Harry Potter props. Santa Clara County Supervisor Ken Yeager turned his into a tribute to the endangered Orchard Supply Hardware arrow sign — complete with LED lighting — and San Jose City Manager Dave Sykes‘ office made a San Jose fire truck pumpkin with wheels and a ladder attached.
Assemblyman Kansen Chu carved a clock face into his, with real clock hands ticking off the minutes, a reference to his quest to eliminate the semi-annual switch between Daylight Savings and Standard time. There even was a Ruth Bader Pumpsberg wearing glasses, a wig and a judicial robe with a lace collar. (“It doubles as a Halloween costume,” said creator Jessica Weare, philanthropy and civic engagement manager for Microsoft.)
Jennifer Loving, executive director of Destination:Home, participated for the first time this year and felt enormous pumpkin pressure. “Everyone expected that I would do a ‘homeless’ pumpkin theme, but I didn’t want to do that,” she said. She ended up creating an elaborate riff on the Banksy “Girl with a Balloon” painting that infamously self-shredded after being sold for $1.4 million at Sotheby’s.
“We were trying to get it to shred in real time but we couldn’t get it to work,” Loving said. Coincidentally, her pumpkin display — frame and all — fell over and off a display table during the auction.
Not everyone went to such great lengths. U.S. Rep. Zoe Lofgren‘s pumpkin had carved into its face an image of the United States, the Statue of Liberty and one word: “Vote.”
SYMPHONY OF STORIES: Symphony Silicon Valley President Andrew Bales knew audiences would be moved by the orchestra’s season opening program featuring “Romeo and Juliet,” but even he was surprised when a young couple got engaged in the lobby at one performance at the California Theatre. And the symphony’s chorale pulled off a surprise of its own when it was in China this month to reprise a performance of last season’s “Patch in the Sky.” Members of the chorale staged a pop-up, flash mob performance for commuters at a train station in Beijing.
The women singers on the trip were set to arrive back in San Jose to perform at this weekend’s Symphony Silicon Valley concerts showcasing Debussy and Strauss. And, of course, the orchestra will be conjuring up more magic next weekend as its popular movie series returns with “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix in Concert.”
MOVING ON: Pam Brandin has announced she’s retiring from her job as executive director of Vista Center for the Blind & Visually Impaired in Palo Alto after 24 years at the end of December. Before taking the helm of the nonprofit in 1994, Brandin had served for a decade on the organizing committee of the center’s primary fundraising event. During her tenure, the organization has grown significantly, including a merger with Doran Center in Santa Cruz in 2007 and this year’s acquisition of Santa Clara Valley Blind Center.
THE SHOW GOES ON (EVENTUALLY): San Jose Stage Company pulled off a successful scramble when Rob August, the lead actor in its season opening production of “The Lieutenant of Inishmore” was injured just before the play’s final weekend of shows. The performance last Friday had to be canceled but patrons were able to be rebooked to performances on Saturday and Sunday.
Audiences may not even have noticed that August was using a cane when he returned or that some moments were slightly re-staged to give him an easier time. Here’s hoping everyone makes it unscathed through San Jose Stage’s second production, “Between Riverside and Crazy,” which opens Nov. 21.
LOOKING FOR THE LITTER-ATTI: There’s quite a collaboration afoot among San Jose’s Public Art Program, its Environmental Service Department and Santa Clara County Poet Laureate Mighty Mike McGee to raise awareness about keeping the city clean. The group is working on a student poetry contest called “Litter-ature.” Middle school and high school students in the city are invited to submit up to five short poems — such as haiku or tanka — that will inspire people to put their trash where it belongs and keep our streets and open spaces clean.
The winning poems will be affixed to 500 new trash cans to be installed in San Jose business districts next year. Entries must be submitted by noon Nov. 15. Go to www.litter-ature.info for details and to enter.
Published at Sat, 27 Oct 2018 14:30:31 +0000