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One standout feature of the Tiger Woods Foundation’s block-party benefit is the dress code—or lack of it. For the third annual fund-raiser, 700 guests showed up this past Saturday in jeans or their equivalent. Backyard-barbecue-friendly casual wear is a rare sight at a Saturday-night fund-raiser, and it helped set an unusually relaxed tone for the event at the Grove of Anaheim.
Even featured performer John Mayer commented on the mood as revelers danced at their tables during his hourlong set. “Sometimes these things are awkward,” he said, “but you’re like the people who come to my concerts.”
The evening, orchestrated in-house by Michelle Bemis, the foundation’s director of events, began with a silent auction—not surprisingly, heavy on sports memorabilia—just outside the Grove’s doors. The doors opened to reveal the cavernous venue, dramatically dressed in red (the golfer’s preferred color, which he wears every Sunday, according to foundation president Greg McLaughlin) and black. The color scheme was also designed to complement the Italian sensibility of Food Network celebrity Giada de Laurentiis, who oversaw a three-course meal of polenta with marinara sauce, tomato, and goat cheese; filet mignon with balsamic syrup and Gorgonzola; crab and ricotta manicotti; and zuccotto with raspberry coulis.
As guests arrived, red light poured over four giant oval fringed chandeliers suspended above a sea of tables, alternately laid with burgundy burnt velvet or black damask cloths. Red roses filled ornate gold urns, some enhanced with four arms holding votive candles. Large tufted red panels and photos of Woods and kids who have been helped by the foundation—all in gold frames—were suspended along the sides of the vast room. The size of the venue was partially offset by dim lighting, which added an intimate feel to the evening. The event raised more than $1 million for the Tiger Woods Learning Center, a 14-acre youth-education facility in Anaheim.