Guests at Moonlight at the Ranch VIII: “Polynesian Paradise!” danced to the music of HR7 at Saturday’s celebration of all things South Seas hosted by Limoneira Ranch.

South Seas celebrated at Moonlight’s ‘Polynesian Paradise!’

September 24, 2014
Santa Paula News

The weather couldn’t have been milder with a touch of the tropics in the air at Saturday’s Moonlight at the Ranch VIII: “Polynesian Paradise!” where hundreds of guests celebrated all that is South Seas and got their Tikis on to benefit the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation.

Held at Limoneira Ranch, each year a growing number of Moonlight guests dress to match the theme and this year to get their Tiki on they donned everything from traditional Hawaiian shirts to Victoria Kelly’s exotic high-fashion Mamo Howell meets Maori. Ann Perez’s hibiscus patterned dress was highlighted with vintage jewelry that evoked the Islands and everyone wore leis from homemade varieties such as Sheryl Hamlin’s garden creation including fragrant gardenias and Maria Bombara’s elaborate flowered headdress - “Susie Yamaguchi did this beautiful work!” she noted, and no pun intended, “It was over the top fabulous!” - to the leis gifted to each guest by Santa Paula Police Explorers.

“We couldn’t hold Moonlight without our strong financial sponsors including those dozens of restaurants that so generously offer tastings of their fine cuisine to our guests,” said Co-Chair Debbie Johnson. “We have a great committee, wonderful volunteers including police and fire personnel and of course hundreds of people who annually mark their calendars - and check their closets - to prepare for our celebration. Limoneira Ranch continues to be a wonderful partner in this endeavor and we greatly appreciate their help and support.

“This year’s Moonlight,” noted Johnson, “was fabulous!”

Leslie Cornejo, who co-chaired Moonlight with Johnson, agreed, noting that SPP&F Foundation members also helped preparing - and then dismantling -the party where guests said they got a true sense of the Islands.

“We just loved the fact that the weather cooperated,” with an evening so lovely that “Some people said they really believed they were in Hawaii. I loved that it showed the theme carried through and people had a lot of fun!”

And that included enjoying the renowned Kealoha & Co. ... “Expressions of Polynesia” dancers, that first performed dances of Hawaii during the reception held at Limoneira Park.

“I can’t tear myself away from the salsa!” said Greg Jensen of Camarillo who was busy sampling the goods from the Red Hot Foods/Santa Paula Salsa Co., “but I have to get over to Flight 126 Café!” also serving in the park with The Underground Gourmet Food Truck, We Olive and Calavo. 

Santa Paula Police had a display featuring the Dragoon and weaponry used by the SPPD SWAT Team as well as officers ready to answer questions. 

A popular attraction was K9 Zak whose handler Sr. Officer Larry Johnson allowed to mingle with the crowd... and sport a lei to show even canines can be struck by the allure of the Islands.

Later in the evening when the celebration moved to the area in front of Limoneira headquarters audience members were invited by Kealoha & Co. ... “Expressions of Polynesia” founder Auntie Josie “Kealoha” Ramirez of Santa Paula to come up and take lessons in Tahitian dance as well as how to use the accessories unique to the cultural performances.

Close to 40 restaurants were stretched out opposite the headquarter building with an A to Z offerings of delicious bites, from Aloha Steakhouse to Zapparelli’s Pizzeria, and in between Baskin Robbins, La Cabana, Los Arcos Taqueria, DJ’s Catering, Enzo’s, Esther’s Sweet SinSations Bakery, Familia Diaz, Foster’s Freeze, Fria, Garden Market, Garman’s Restaurant & Irish Pub, Hozy’s Grill, I Would Rather Be Baking Co., Jersey Mike’s Subs, The Kitchen, Laird’s Butcher Shop & BBQ, Men of Mesquite, Mupu Grill, Old Fashion Country Butcher, Ovations Fanfare LP, El Pescador (Santa Paula), Plated Events by Chef Jason, Rabalais’ Bistro & Bakery, Spencer Makenzie’s Ventura, Starbucks, Santa Paula Steak & Hoagie, Tacos Don Chente and  Tuscany Pizzeria.

According to Karen Araiza-Reynolds who coordinated the dozens of eateries, “It was a great celebration and I want to really thank all the restaurants for participating. They said they enjoyed themselves and the change to the venue that allowed more room for their food and for the guests to enjoy it. A lot of hard work but all worth it at the end... and everyone said the food was delicious!”

Guests were feasting on the generous tastings and enjoying the music of HR7 whiles others were purchasing Chinese Raffle tickets from Santa Paula Police Explorers and bidding on the Silent Auction that included a mega-package from Melgar Photography Studios, a multi-golf course fantasy, two-night stay at Windfall Farms for eight and a combined SPPD SWAT Team Training Day and SPFD Fire House Dinner for 8.

Fire Chief Rick Araiza and Police Chief Steve McLean said they were enjoying the party and all it signifies to public safety.

McLean noted people had attended the party from “Throughout Ventura County and from Santa Clarita... so many people really enjoy this event that helps the Santa Paula police and fire departments. The foundation is a great supporter of all we do... “

“We really appreciate the community support, it means so much to us,” said Araiza. “It’s wonderful that Moonlight stages such a great party each year that the community enjoys so much... and supports the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation and in turn supports public safety with the equipment and training that the foundation provides from the Moonlight profits.”

Said Cornejo, “I’m so grateful for all the help from the volunteers, the foundation, police and fire, and the committee that completely stepped up and did a great job in putting Moonlight together.

“Limoneira is wonderful for allowing us to hold our annual event at their lovely ranch, the restaurants were fantastic, we had a full house but plenty of seating... it was so much work and we don’t know the totals yet,” but Cornejo said, “I think Moonlight did a great job for the foundation.”

Photos from Moonlight will soon be posted on its Facebook page and also online at 

Kealoha & Co. ... “Expressions of Polynesia” dancers first entertained at Limoneira Park before the party moved to outside the historic headquarters of the ranch company.

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