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Caring Carnival

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THE STAR POWER AT THE PEDIATRIC AIDS Foundation’s fourth annual picnic on June 6 was so blinding that nearly everyone wore shades. But the Hollywood celebs, who were among the 1,200 who paid $1,000 or more each to enjoy the mini-carnival, came not to bask in their own luminescence but to support the foundation and its co-founder, AIDS activist Elizabeth Glaser, who herself is HIV positive.

Guests, who helped raise $1.25 million for pediatric AIDS research, found plenty to amuse themselves while wandering among the booths set up on the grounds of the former Robert Taylor estate in Brentwood. Yes, that was Warren Beatty manning the beanbag toss, and that was Sharon Stone orchestrating the hoopla at the basketball booth. Billy Crystal got shticky at the Wheel of Fortune and gave away all the winning tickets. “Here, kid,” Crystal said to a pint-size player. “It’s fixed.”

Former junk-bond king Michael Milken showed a sense of humor about himself. “I would have liked to have been at past picnics,” quipped Milken, who was released from prison last January after serving 22 months for securities crimes. “But I was detained elsewhere.”

Speaking at a morning press conference, the smallest sufferers from AIDS kept the event focused on its purpose. Hydea Broadbent, 9, moved many to tears when she observed that most of her friends now live “in heaven.” “It means a lot to me to know people are trying to keep us alive,” said Joey DePaulo, 13, who is also infected with HIV. “I dream of the day when there will be no more pain and dying.”