Monday, April 23, 2012

Children First Celebration Gala

Sultry weather set the scene at Children First's gala Meet Me at the Tropicana on Saturday night.  Invoking the sexy heat of Miami in the 1950s, cigarette girls worked the crowd and Latin music filled the air.  Completely transforming the Michael's On East ballroom, real palm fronds grazed the ceiling in soft splendor.  When I walked in, I hardly recognized where I was!  Two large peach colored fabric arches caressed the room from wall to wall and ocean blue lights bathed the room.  I actually thought I was in a waterfront Miami Beach nightclub in the 50s! 

Carrying out the theme was the entire tablescape.  The centerpieces were quite charming - orchids growing out of stacked cigar boxes and even matching napkin rings!  The committee, Angie Stringer and Carol Butera did an outstanding job pulling it all together.

The highlight of the night was when Gerri Aaron announced she would donate $10,000 that evening if the crowd would raise another matching $10,000.  Well my darling, they did much more than that!  Another $25,000 + was raised in a matter of minutes, for a total of over $35,000.  It was announced that the entire evening had netted over $175,000.  Fabulous!

I really liked how they did the "paddle raise", which wasn't a paddle at all.  Guests had been given the Bid Pal "machines" (I'm not sure what you call them.  They look like little smart phones.)  You could enter your donation directly into the Bid Pal and your name would show up immediately on the jumbotrons with a rolling number of what the donations were up to.  It was really exciting and I had never seen that done before.  It was a brilliant piece of instant gratification.

Lots of other things went on including Children First's President and CEO, Philip Tavill introducing a lovely video of Children First and presenting a plaque to Gerry Daniel in memory of his wife Ruth and all she had done for the organization.

There was tons of support for this organization, including many co-chairs - Gerri Aaron and Marv Albert, Dr. Heidi Anderson and Dr. Paul Brannon, Mindy and Wayne Rollins, and Jo and Stan Rutstein.  It was also nice to see so many younger folks there.

Michael Klauber auctioned off several terrific items.  He is one of the best charity auctioneers around.  And what would any event do without the sweet, soothing, but commanding voice of Sights and Sounds, Brent Greeno?  He does more to keep everything and everyone on track than anything else.  He is definitely a chairman's best friend. 

The menu was one of my favorites - braised short ribs, which I have had several times this season and never tire of, along with smashed sweet potatoes with carrots (I was trying to figure out what made the potatoes taste so good and different and didn't figure it out until I read the menu that it was the addition of carrots!), and fried plantains with green beans and red peppers.  Dessert was tropical in flavor - mango and raspberry sorbet in a chocolate cup, along with chocolate coconut-cashew clusters and lemon bars.

Big Night Out kept everyone on the dance floor all night long.  I have used them before and they are just the best.  Truly, from the time the band started playing first thing in the evening until the waning hours, dancers were moving to the groove!  

Others spotted in the crowd and not photographed below were Carol Sirard, Renee Phinney, Brock and Julie Leach, Kirsten Fulkerson, Kelly Romanoff, Roxie and Mike Jerde, Dan and Debbie Dannheiser, Nola and Larry Heitbrink, Wendy and Shaun Merriman, Ollie and Jerry Johnson, Alisa and Roger Pettingell, Karin Gustafson, Maggie and Mark Sharff, and on and on.

Angie Stringer and Johanna Gustafsson

Philip Tavill and Michael Klauber

Drs. Heidi Anderson and Paul Brannan

Jo and Stan Rutstein

Dr. Parlane Reid and Carol Butera

Drs. Krista Toomre and Harold Johnson

 Brent Greeno

The dancing crowd

Dimitrios and Nancy Vafeas 

Greg Wall and Susan Winchester Dabney

Tom Quigley, Jenni and Paul Hudson, and Debbie George

Wanda Martinetto and Julie Milton

Dave and Kyla Weiner

Jean Cooper, Margaret Hope, Jane Cooper, and Kristine White

Terri Klauber with Steve and Beth Knopik

Tom and Penny Shuff, Rebecca Blitz, and Jackie Crombie

Lynn and Dr. Arthur Guilford with Leslie Jones

Alexandra Jupin and John Bean

Sally Yanowitz, Scott Anderson, Gerri Aaron, and Michael Scott

Marjorie and Tom Peter

Matt Walsh and Stan Rutstein

Scott and Melissa Dunlap

Andrew and Anne McFall

Kathy Bockhold, Anne Weintraub and Dr. Gary Bockhold

 At the entrance

The atmosphere

The place setting

The cigar box centerpiece

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