The sugar levels on Town Center Drive were over the top Saturday night when the first-ever Sweet Charity fundraiser was held to benefit the SCV Youth Project.
"We weren't sure what to expect, but we're very happy," said Kim Goldman, Executive Director of the Youth Project, who worked with several volunteers Saturday afternoon to set up the confections for display in the newly-christened College of the Canyons I-CuE location at a vacant restaurant site.
Goldman said that they are still counting, but it looks like they raised more than $10,000 that will go towards peer mentoring and crisis intervention services provided by SCV Youth Project.
Thirty-five companies entered cakes in the competition/auction with desserts designed by professionals and creative "amateurs" alike. Long-time community bakers Nancy Olmos and Jill Cox worked their magic and encouraged others - including one promising 9-year-old protégé - to wow the crowds at the event, sculpting everything from beehive hairdos to houses, tool boxes, creatures from land and sea, puppies and cruise ships from flour and sugar.
A cruise ship complete with onboard pools and entertainment even included a visit with "The Love Boat"'s Captain Steubing, actor Gavin MacLeod, who kidded around with Princess Cruises public relations manager Julie Benson while admiring the handiwork.
"I'll follow her anywhere," MacLeod said, winking. "I've been with Princess Cruises for 23 years and this is our ship. I'll go anywhere Princess Cruises goes, even if it's just a cupcake. This is even better, because it's a carrot cake!"
The amicable spokesman autographed a DVD of show episodes that was included with the winning bid for the multi-level cake. He's lost count of how many times he's been a passenger on the line's ships.
Guests at Saturday's event enjoyed appetizers donated by Buca de Beppo and Salt Creek Grille, as well as creations by the students in COC's Culinary Arts Department.
One baker a little too nervous to eat was 9-year old Kiora Sanchez, who created a "Money Tree" cake for her mother's employer, Infinity Wealth Management.
"I came up with a design based on what they do," she explained patiently. "They take your money and help you invest it, so I thought of planting a few dollar bills and growing this tremendous tree that could grow money."
She took observers through the careful steps of working with fondant and "regular" frosting ("I used it for the lawn because that looked a little more like grass") and how marbling was an important design element for the trunk of the tree.
"I'm not a professional, but I wanted my cake to stand out from the others," she said, smiling broadly.
Saturday's event wasn't her first baking adventure; she already has business cards and runs a lucrative Bubblebum Bakery with a website and ordering system. She ships a "10-pound chocolate cake" and amazes people with her chocolate chip cookies. It all started, she says modestly, when she created graham cracker pancakes.
While she was talking, a figure from her past stepped up to admire the handiwork. Before she got into the financial field, Kiora's mother, Danika, used to do some cake decorating herself, working for Jill's Cake Creations. After posing for a picture ("three generations," she pointed out), Jill leaned down to put a $500 bid on Kiora's cake, which turned out to be the cake earning the highest bid (the winning bid was $575), earning the young girl a trophy for making the largest contribution.
"Kiora was priceless," Kim Goldman said. "She called me and thanked me, saying she was able to feel like a rock star for a night."
For pictures of all the cakes, check out KHTS Around Town.