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The Barclay Holiday Tree has found its new home!

As we’ve mentioned over the past few weeks, the Barclay was among the many Southern California arts organizations invited to participate in the Pavilion of Holiday Trees, an exciting fundraiser hosted by South Coast Plaza. Trees decorated by each organization were displayed at South Coast Plaza for public viewing and offered in a charitable online auction. The arts organizations received the funds raised from the auction, and the winning bidder got to take the tree—as well as the many goodies that came with it—home for the holidays. In the case of the Barclay tree, this included naming rights to two seats in our venue and a VIP experience in the coming year.  

Our tree was a labor of love—and a welcome early segue into the holiday season!—for one of our staff members and her family, who worked together to design and decorate the “jewel box” themed one-of-a-kind creation. Because we were so excited to find out who the generous winning bidder was when the auction closed on December 4th, we were doubly pleased to be able to make contact with the winner over the past week!

Laureen and Terry Smith of Yorba Linda may not have been regular Barclay patrons, but the tree caught their eye for a couple of reasons—not the least of which was our shared connection to UC Irvine. Attracted at first by the tree's color scheme and unique ornaments, our affiliation with the university struck a chord with Laureen when she read about the tree in the auction program materials. For Laureen and Terry, the draw was undeniable, for both are alumni of UCI: Laureen (née Edwards), was class of '73 while Terry was class of '72. Their daughter, Dr. Crystal (Smith) Turner, is an Anteater alumna, class of '00 and '02. When telling us about her choice to follow our tree in the auction, Laureen wrote: “The support of the arts is critical, especially now, even more than ever. All of my grandchildren show interest in the arts, from drama to piano lessons, so I am looking forward to supporting that effort.” These words are music (no pun intended) to all of us who do what we do, and we are grateful for Laureen’s sentiments.

Laureen Smith in her Yorba Linda home with the Barclay tree

In a phone conversation this past Friday, Laureen shared with us how much joy she derived from the actual process of participating in the auction. As she followed along, she expressed her excitement over carefully watching the bidding, right up until the very last minute of the auction: “I was having dinner with my husband and had to apologize for repeatedly looking at my phone. I told him I had to keep my eye on what was happening!” As the auction ended, she feared she had lost in the last few seconds of bidding, but was delighted when she received a “You’re the winner!” notification shortly thereafter. Another highlight for Laureen was the delivery process of the tree. A South Coast Plaza representative delivered and meticulously set-up every detail of the tree in her home. She loved watching him carefully place the packages, ensuring that every touch was perfect—right down to making sure the music was playing before he left.

Laureen, a recipient of UCI’s distinguished Lauds & Laurels award, along with her daughter, is thrilled with her custom holiday showpiece. She especially enjoys listening to the digital music player/speaker equipped with the custom-curated music. Included as a special treat for the winning bidder, it plays all holiday tunes performed by artists who have graced the Barclay stage over the years. She likes to listen to the playlist while reading by the tree, her gaze intermittently pausing from her book to take in each ornament and detail, like a newly discovered little treasure. “I notice new things each time," she muses. Terry noted that the task of taking their custom creation down after the season may be a daunting one, but Laureen says she loves it so much, she just may be tempted to keep it up all year—problem solved!

All of us at the Barclay thank the Smiths for their support and are glad to call them the newest members of our family. We can’t wait to show our appreciation in person once we get back into the theatre.