Friday, April 18, 2008

Mr. SB roasted for charity


Larry Crandell, local celebrity and philanthropist, celebrated his 85th birthday last night Larry Crandell-style – by hosting a dinner and auction to raise funds for the Arthritis Foundation of Santa Barbara. The event culminated with a celebrity roast of Crandell, the man affectionately known as “Mr. Santa Barbara.”
The event took place in the Loggia room at the Biltmore, and before the auction began there was a quite a show. An entourage of ladies adorned Crandall in a purple robe and crown and presented him with a scepter before escorting him to the stage where – after a tongue-in cheek wave of the scepter – he sat down.

The audience’s adoration for this man was clear. While he sat on stage, a trio of women sang a medley of classic songs, twisting the lyrics to deliver such lines as, “You’re just too good to be true. Can’t keep our money from you.”
The theme of the roast fit well with Crandell’s image. It is well known that his favorite punch line is himself. Crandell’s self-deprecating sense of humor has made him one of the most popular toastmasters in Santa Barbara over the past five decades, and his events have raised an estimated $200 thousand dollars for local nonprofits.
His son Steven leapt at the opportunity to deliver a couple zingers about his father.
“My father is one of the few people in existence to air-brush his own caricature,” he said as he displayed a cartoon sketch of Mr. Santa Barbara to the crowd.
Larry Crandell lives with his wife Marcy in lower Montecito, or what he calls “Baja Montecito.” They have resided in the Santa Barbara area since the 1960s, and he has worked as a real estate broker and operator of a software company. But his true calling is helping the people of Santa Barbara and, of course, showing them a good time.
The guests bid on high-value items such as a dinner for ten at a high-end New Orleans restaurant and a seven-day trip to Kawai.
“That’s seven days and no nights. You’ll have to sleep in your car,” joked Crandell.
As if by compulsion, Crandell did his best to steal the show from the other emcees. He and comedian Matt Iseman from the Style Network’s “Clean House” took turns throwing quips at the audience when there were lulls in the bidding.
“We’ll throw in a night at Motel 6,” said Crandell when no one was raising the bid on the Hawaii trip.
Despite all the comedy, there was a sense of seriousness when the speakers praised Crandell.
“A life well-lived,” said Steven Crandell in reference to his father, “is a life where the people you talked to and the people you associated with are touched by your presence.”

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