LOS ANGELES, Calif. It was truly a small world here Oct. 30 as children and their families from many nations enjoyed an authentic western barbecue presented by the Southern California Public Affairs Council.
Wearing cowboy hats and bandanas, more than 300 members of the Los Angeles consular corps, representing 26 countries, attended the event at a ranch in the nearby Malibu mountains. The guests included 15 consuls general. They took their children on hayrides and pony rides, had their faces painted, pitched horseshoes and watched rope tricks.
They also enjoyed exhibitions by Peter Vidmar, a Church member who was a 1984 Olympic gold medal gymnast, who performed on a pommel horse, and the BYU Folk Dancers and Living Legends, who presented a variety of Native American and Western dances, from reels to clogging. The BYU students taught some of these dances to both adults and children, and the children had the opportunity to perform a Native American hoop dance for their families.
The countries represented at the barbecue included : Argentina, Austria, Belize, Burkina Faso, Croatia, Denmark, Ecuador, El Salvador, Fiji, Gambia, Germany, Great Britain, Israel, Jamaica, Latvia, Lebanon, Mexico, New Zealand, Nicaragua, Norway, the People's Republic of China, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Saudi Arabia and South Africa.
Many spoke favorably of the event and the performance, including Nicolae M. Constantinescu, Consul General of Romania. "This," he said softly, "is the American heart."
Guests also had the opportunity to meet Church members Marie Osmond and U.S. Rep. Buck McKeon and his wife, Patricia. They also met State Rep. Loretta Sanchez and State Assemblyman Bruce Thompson. Others in attendance were Shabbir Mansuri, founder and executive director of the Council on Islamic Education; Curtis Mack, executive director of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council; and Ki Suh Park, president of the Los Angeles World Affairs Council.
One member of the consular corps, Gernie Hafenberg of Germany, found many subjects for his camera. "It was a great success," he said. "I took more than 70 pictures."
When it was time to go, many families postponed their departure as long as possible. "We're having a marvelous time," said Iliana Molina of El Salvador. "You're going to have to kick us out. My kids don't want to leave."
"There was a wonderful spirit here," said James B. Jacobson, chairman of the Southern California Public Affairs Council. "We are very pleased with the response to what we hope will be an annual event. We wanted to show our appreciation to the consular corps here in Southern California."
Perhaps Larry Marriott of South Africa best expressed the sentiments of the guests when he said, "This was wonderful. If you have it again next year, we'll be here."