Judy Mikeska turned heads on the red carpet in her champagne-colored satin gown, which she picked out especially for the 87th annual Academy Awards.
The carpet she was on led to the Rialto theater in Sebastopol, where the Oscars were screened live Sunday as a benefit for Food for Thought, a Forestville-based food pantry for AIDS and HIV patients.
Although she was hundreds of miles away from the actual Oscars in Hollywood, Mikeska still felt like a star in her glamorous floor-length gown.
“I’ve never worn one before. Well, not since high school when I was (crowned) a wrestling princess,” she said.
The Glen Ellen resident found the dress for $30 at a Sonoma thrift store the day before the fundraiser, hosted by the Rialto.
“I just about fell over. It was hanging there, waiting for me,” she said, adding that she couldn’t wait to slip into it, especially since the event was for a good cause.
She was among the 200 people who attended the third annual Red Carpet Wine Walk and Academy Awards Screening.
The event raised $5,000, said Karen Gardner, development director for Food for Thought, which provides boxed food, fresh produce and vitamins to 700 men, women and children in the county affected by AIDS and HIV. Started in 1988, the nonprofit relies heavily on private donations.
Guests walked up the red carpet to a table next to the theater and received star-shaped cookies and a passport for tastings at Wind Gap Wines, MacPhail Family Wines, Marimar Estate Vineyards and Winery and La Follette, all located down the street at the Barlow.
The wine tasting was new this year, Gardner said. All of the wine was donated, as well as the hors d’oeuvres by Cottonwood Catering, she said.
Participants munched on wild mushroom empanadas with chèvre and fennel and curried chicken puffs in pâte à choux while sipping wine and admiring the gowns and freshly pressed tuxedos. For many, it beat watching the Oscars while sitting on the couch in their sweatpants.
Julie Atwood, a Glen Ellen event planner and longtime supporter of Food for Thought, attended the previous two Academy Awards events at the Rialto. On Sunday, she dazzled the crowd with an “up-cycled” fur coat, a sapphire blue gown with cutouts and a jeweled neckline and gold heels.
Friend Leticia Ontiveros wore a long black gown with a red silky beaded shawl and black slingback heels.
“I went with the classic black,” Ontiveros said about her dress, which she had hanging in her closet for some time. “I dusted it off for the event,” she said.
Atwood assured her friend, saying “That dress is a knockout.”
While they enjoyed getting dressed up, Atwood said their focus is raising money for Food for Thought.
Dennis Wilkes and his partner, Robbie De La Riva, said there are few places in the county that help families affected by HIV and AIDS. They, too, were thrilled to attend the event to show their support.
“(I’m) grateful that there is a place like this,” said De La Riva, who wore a black tuxedo with a red satin interior made in Hong Kong especially for him. It’s a suit he said he wanted to “be buried in.”
Wilkes purchased him the tickets to the event for his birthday.