Thursday, February 14, 2013

Conservation Foundation's Palm Ball

Though the valet line arriving was long, it was worth the wait.  The Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast's The Palm Ball is one of my personal favorites and once again, it did not disappoint.  I love an "on location" venue for an event and Bay Preserve is one of the prettiest around (and available for rent, I might add!).  The historic mansion, the sparkling moonlight on the bay, and the lush, old Florida grounds, with the Spanish moss swaying languidly from the centuries old oaks, makes for a truly enchanting evening.

Arriving at the doorway of the stately, white-columned, brick Burrows-Matson mansion via the circle drive is gorgeous in of itself.  I do always feel as if I have somehow stepped back in time to a more gracious and refined era.  Waiting to greet me and the other guests in the receiving line was Conservation Foundation president, Christine Johnson, committee chairs, Janelle Beruff, Ariane Dart, Pauline Joerger, and Margaret Wise, along with honorary chair, Cornelia Matson.  Hug, hug, kiss, kiss...I love it all!

Then it was out to the back veranda, down the steps through the crowd to the graceful lawn for cocktails overlooking the dock as the sun set and the evening began in earnest.  With attendance nearing 400, it was wonderful to see a nice mix of new and familiar faces and an even greater mix of ages.  I think more than any other black tie event, this has the most well-mixed age groups - everyone from the young turks, to the wheel chair and oxygen tank crowd - which is terrific!  Frankly, I love to see both ends of the age spectrum - that's when the best parties happen!

Invoking a yacht club theme for "All Aboard for Conservation", the tent, with its towering blue yachting sails, sparkling blue tablecloths, and large black and white checked dance floor, it was simply pretty, pretty.  My photos don't do it justice at all.  One of the things I do adore about this event, is that there is always a color theme for the attire to coordinate with the decor.  This year it was diamond and sapphire and most everyone played along.

As always, the meal by Michael's On East was superb!  For the second time this season I was served rack of lamb at an event, which is my favorite meal!  As I mentioned in a previous post, usually committee chairs are a bit skittish to serve lamb.  I am so glad to see that changing.  Lamb is such a nice change from the normal Fillet Mignon.  Can I put it out there that veal would be nice, too?!  Another big trend recently is beet salad, which I also wholly endorse!  This one was a bit different with fennel, apples, and candied cashews added to the mix.  The dessert was a tray of different kinds of pastries.  I had left my table for a bit before the tray arrived, so only photographed a few of the leftovers, but it included fruit tartlets, lemon bars, carrot cupcakes, chocolate chip cannoli, and coconut-cashew clusters.

The band, South Town Fever, was quite good and had the crowd up and dancing all night, though at times during dinner, I would have liked them to be just a tad softer, as I had a bit of a hard time conversing with others at my table, including the ones right next to me!

The Palm Ball does their live auction in a bit of a different way, in that it is not an auction at all.  They offer several experiences for a fixed price, like a private expedition with an expert to see the turtles lay their eggs by moonlight for $2,500 or a private fishing trip for $1,000 and you just raise your paddle if you want to do it.  Again, a very civilized way to conduct an auction. By the way, the auctioneer was Cliff Roles.

An elegant evening in the company of elegant ladies and gentlemen!

Others at the party were India and Bruce Lesser, Veronica Brady, Jon Thaxton and Dru Greene, Craig and Sharon Lewis, Richard and Lisa Merrill, Charles and Nancy Blackburn, Dennis Rees and Felice Schulaner, Joel and Toni Schemmel, Art Wood, Harry Leopold, Cheryl Loeffler, Kristine Nickel, Alex Miller, Sally Trout and Tom Ross, Alexandra Jupin and John Bean, Dr. John and Heidi Fezza, Joe and Sydney Gruters, Tom and Ann Charters, Wayne and Debbie Seitl, Doug and Shannon Holder, Mindy and Scott Dinenberg, Bernice and Patrick Hebda, Anna Nekoranec and Bengt Niebuhr, Bob and Beverly Bartner, Rob Brown and Rosemary Eure, Michael and Kathy Bush, and oh so many more.

Bill and Christine Johnson

Elita Kane and Margaret Wise

Carlos and Janelle Beruff

Geoffrey Michel, Pauline Joerger, Rob Patten, and Babette Bach

Suzanne Gregory and Sean Byrne

Roxie Jerde and Kim Cornetet

Graci McGillicuddy and Julie Milton

Marjorie Peter, Dr.  Allison Silver, and Dr. Krista Toomre

BJ Creighton and Julie Delaney

Charlotte Stringfellow with Ric and Kathy Coffey

Sally Schule and Joel Ellzey

Bill Harrison and Sharon Black Floyd

Teri Hansen and Steve Wilberding

Charlotte and Kurt Stringfellow

Elizabeth Nace and Anita Holec

Walt and Deborah Beacham

Beth Knopik with Roy and Karla DuPuis

Amie Swan, Emily Walsh, and Victoria Maddocks

Leslie and Al Jeffrey

Stephanie and Max Hannum

Carolyn and Dr. Bob Johnson

Fran and John LaCivita

Mike and Paula Ippolito with Jenni and Paul Hudson

Aimee and Chris Cogan

Dr. Karen Hamad and Dr. Jon Yenari

Peter and Carla Smith with Jenny Malone and John Wiseman

Terri Vitale and Dr. Chris Sforzo

Scott and Kelly Collins

Kim Cornetet and me (photo by Roxie Jerde)

Michael McKinley and Mollie Nelson

Donna and Drew Mateer

Dan and Nancy Bailey

Kelly Quigley and Dr. Heidi Anderson

Cliff and Susan Scholz

The dance floor

The yacht club-like decorations

The centerpiece

The place setting

The program

The beet salad

The entree


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