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By Miriam Raftery

December 11, 2008 (El Cajon) — This year's holiday tea, sponsored by Friends
of East County Arts, Inc. served up something new along with the traditional
tea, scones and finger sandwiches.

"This is the first year that men have been invited," said Howard Bagley, director
of St. Clair Gallery and a strong supporter of the organization.  "In
24 years, they've raised a half million dollars," he said, adding that the
group has no significant overhead and donates all funds raised for worthy local
causes.  "It's all gone to schools and the arts, including the (East County)
Performing Arts Center."

The event proceeded smoothly, with just one small exception.   While
elegantly dressed women chatted and sipped tea while patiently awaiting food
service, one patron at the lone men's table complained loudly, "Hey, the men
over here are getting hungry!"

Men and women alike bid on silent auction items and purchasing raffle tickets
sold by Alexandra Fagelson, Miss Rancho San Diego, and Kari Satrom, Miss El
Cajon.  In an era of tough economic times, 170 people attended the event
to support local arts projects.

"It's a good year," event chair Cheryl Minshew told East County Magazine.

Each table has individualized china settings and elegant
decorations provided by a Friends of East County Arts member.

In 2009, Friends of East County Arts will celebrate its 25th year.  "We're
planning the most spectacular silver anniversary event in September," president
Bonnie Fredensborg told those present.  Other upcoming events include
the annual garden tour in April and a kids' art show in Parkway Plaza.

A trio of string players performed classical music during the tea,  at
one point joining a trombone performance by Dave Scott of KUSI Channel 9. 

Minshew shared some historical trivia with guests, noting that tea originated
in China and over a billion cups of tea are consumed daily around the world.

"Before the mid-18th Century, there were no handles on teacups.  People
used to pour their tea on saucers and slurp it," she disclosed, glancing at
the men's table as she added, "Don't even think about it!"

Howard Bagley with Miss El Cajon at the holiday tea Bonnie Fredensborg, president, Friends of East County
Arts Inc.
Cheryl Minshew, president, Friends of East County Arts