Village event coordinator dives into party planning


August 10, 1999|By John J. Snyder | John J. Snyder,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

IT'S TIME FOR THE yearly Oakland Mills summer social, and Mia Collins, the village's new event coordinator, is putting together an evening of food, music and fun.

On Aug. 17, village board members and Columbia Association representative Earl Jones will serve hot dogs, watermelon and soft drinks at the Talbott Springs pool on Basket Ring Road.

"Oakland Mills is what Columbia is meant to be," says Collins, a resident of Wilde Lake, explaining why the pool party will be the social event of the season.

Neighbors from all over the village will celebrate their community. Festivities begin at 6: 30 p.m.

Disc jockey Patrick Leer from Bristol Sounds will play music. Families can swim, dance and enter hula, limbo and bubble-blowing contests.

Collins, 33, formerly the village's facility manager, became events coordinator last month. The social is a big production, but for Collins -- a mother of two who has been a dancer and model and worked in New York fashion houses -- the job should be no sweat.

Coordinating a suburban pool party might not be as glamorous as nailing down the details on a runway show for the spring ready-to-wear collection of Adrianne Vittadini -- one of Collins' garment-district employers -- but it appeals to Collins.

"This is a great place to work," she says. "People are so warm and open. I've never worked in a place that's so nice."

Far from the chaos of Seventh Avenue, Collins says she has time to look for the right blend of activities for the residents of Oakland Mills.

Collins was born in Delaware and her family moved to the Village of Wilde Lake in 1979. Her path from Columbia to Manhattan, N.Y., and back again is paved with hard work and many memories. She says she carved out her life here and in New York with encouragement from her mother, Marlene Cox.

As a student at Wilde Lake High School, Collins -- whose maiden name is Holloway -- wanted to become a dancer. An excellent student, she danced in the school's Gifted and Talented Program while studying modern dance with Marilyn Byers of Dance Dimensions at Slayton House after school.

One day, watching a television show at home, she saw a young actress portraying a teen-age fashion model.

"I can do that," Collins recalls saying to herself.

She called Hecht's department store. After a few dead-ends, she got to the right person. She was soon going on weekend road shows to malls, dancing and modeling teen fashions.

The job helped her make it through high school, she says.

"It was a great way for me to channel positive energy," she says. "There are so many distractions out there for kids. I'm glad I had that."

Collins can't remember the television show that inspired her, but she knows that it was Bonnie Baum in Hecht's Virginia office who gave her that first break.

"That's the way things happen," Collins says. "The magic of being young is you have no fear."

Graduating from Wilde Lake in 1984, Collins set out for the bright lights of the Big Apple.

Energized by her new surroundings, she studied business administration at City College and began taking classes with the Alvin Ailey dance company.

After two years, Collins enrolled in a buying and merchandising course at the Fashion Institute of Technology.

Soon she was setting up runway shows, handling public relations and other assignments for clothing designers.

Although she continued to study with Alvin Ailey, Collins decided against a life in the arts. "I decided I didn't want to be a struggling dancer," she says.

She became a hair model for Essence magazine.

But the grit and pace of New York began to wear her down.

She had met and married her husband, Dwayne, in New York. In 1990, they moved to Wilde Lake.

When her daughter Keily was born eight years ago, Collins found that being a stay-at-home mother suited her. She kept her hand in business by organizing small fashion shows and planning dinner parties.

For a time, she operated Sprout, a fashion boutique in Oella, with her mother, a resident of Woodstock.

The opportunity to work close to home is perfect for this energetic "people person." She can pull together a party at The Other Barn and have time for Keily and her 3-year-old daughter, Taia, when she gets home.

The pool party next week will end the summer nicely before school starts.

Registration for the party is required.

Cost is $1, with a maximum of $5 per family.

Information or registration: 410-730-4610.

High flier

Oakland Mills High School has produced a high flier.

Christine "Chrissie" Rochester, who will be a sophomore in the fall at the University of Maryland, College Park, has been inducted into the National Society of Collegiate Scholars.

The organization -- dedicated to the idea that scholarship includes a responsibility to develop leadership and a duty to perform service -- recognizes first- and second-year undergraduates who excel academically.

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