Sometimes it seems as if Benicia is in its own galaxy. The small town on the Carquinez Straits has been the home of generals, the US Army and President Ulysses S. Grant. Its shoreline has seen the fleets of warriors and even a wayward whale. What sets this town apart is not only those whom it attracted in the past, but those of us who proudly call it home in this century.
The city's quality of life is the envy of folks who have had the Benicia experience either as a visitor or a resident. Having been involved with the community over 30 years, I have come to the realization that it's a behind-the-scenes crew who make the magic happen. We’re a full-service city with our own police and fire departments, top ranked schools, water and waste water treatment plants, first class library, 21 city parks and two state parks—the only state parks in Solano County. There are 192 dedicated employees working in 12 departments, who oversee the day-to-day "magic force" of Benicia. There is a certain pride that comes with working for the town, from the parks maintenance staff keeping the grass green (or a nice shade of draught brown) to the public works "storm troopers" who clear the drains and roads in preparation for El Niño.
Adding to the magic is the Administrative Professionals Day Fashion Show and Luncheon, now in its 7th year. The annual event benefits the Community Action Council Senior Meals Program. Each year a theme is selected that coordinates with the show’s music, costumes and decor. This year, The Fashion Force Awakens was selected as the theme due to the popularity of Star Wars and the fun possibilities it brings to the runway.
In previous years, Alice in Wonderland, James Bond, The British Invasion, The Great Gatsby, New York, and The 70s rocked the Clock Tower. Runway models have included local luminaries such as Mayor Elizabeth Patterson, city council member Alan Schwartzman, county supervisor Linda Seifert and members of city staff. City manager Brad Kilger usually steals the show with his catwalk moves, along with Heather McLaughlin, our city attorney. Other department heads, including finance director Karin Schnaider, principle planner Amy Million, community development director Christina Ratcliffe, library director Diane Smikahl and human resources analyst Kim Imboden have all answered the model call. Adding to the force this year is chief of police Erick Upson, who agreed after witnessing the fun last year. Darth Vader, Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, Hans Solo and perhaps Yoda might make an appearance, along with women's fashion from Christina S and menswear from Napa’s Williamson and Company. Hair and makeup for the local supermodels will be done by the stylists at First Impressions.
The event hours are 11:30am-2:30pm, April 27, at the Benicia Clock Tower. The luncheon will be catered by Randy and Ann-Marie Ramos of 907 Grill & Catering; and flowers, courtesy of Smitten Flowers, is owned by Kate Gibbs, who also is the deputy city clerk for Benicia. Interior designer Michael Trahan will add his expertise, creating the stage backdrop. CAC Board Member Michele Hughes will chair the event, and her husband, councilman Mark Hughes, is in charge of set up, take down and hanging the tarp for the model's dressing rooms. Benicia is made up of talented people who give back to the town and its residents, and are dedicated to its place in the galaxy. May the force of fashion be with you!