By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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So when she left Sacramento, Calif., in 1990 to move to the North Olympic Peninsula and marry Dick Thorson, he immediately took her to two places.
The Port Angeles Fine Arts Center, the city's museum on the hill, and the Port Angeles Symphony Orchestra wowed this newcomer.
In the past 24 years, Connie has both enjoyed and supported the arts in her adopted hometown. In recent years, she has been a key volunteer in the Applause! Auction, a lavish benefit that includes hors d'oeuvres, Camaraderie Cellars wines, music and a four-course dinner.
This year's party, with the theme “All Dressed Up and Somewhere to Go,” is set for 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 22, at the Elks Naval Lodge, 131 E. First St., with tickets available at $75 per person including dinner, musical entertainment and the bidding festivities under Seattle auctioneer Dennis Caldirola.
Dinner choices include prime rib, chicken Marsala and vegetarian lasagna, while information and reservations are available at the symphony office at 360-457-5579.
Applause! is “the orchestra's most important fundraiser of the year,” said Symphony Executive Director Mark Wendeborn.
“Seventy percent of our fundraising budget comes from this event,” he noted.
Items up for bid this time around range from getaway packages in Victoria to a villa stay in Bali, Indonesia. Symphony supporters also have donated fine art, a day of winemaking at Camaraderie Cellars, dinner parties in local homes and unlimited car washes for a year, among other gifts. Which showed Connie something else about Port Angeles.
“With the donations we've gotten, everybody has been so generous,” she said. “That's true of our town.”
The trips are tantalizing, she added: a weeklong stay at a French Quarter hotel in New Orleans, a trip to the Tuscan town of Corona, Italy.
But not everything is high-ticket.
“They have a good range of prices, so everybody who goes can be a part of it,” said Connie. “They have the big trips . . . and the fun things,” including envelopes with mystery gifts inside.
“It's a fast-paced auction,” she said, recalling the time she and symphony volunteer Robbin Eaves were in charge of tracking who made the winning bids on what and for how much.
This year, the Thorsons cannot make it to the event. They have tickets to the opera in Victoria. But Connie, not one to miss out, plans to authorize friends to bid on selected items.