+ Highlights from the 2013-2014 season
Once again, a season has flown by. Here are favorite moments that readers remember …
Stephanie Hannum: The most inspiring events were the ones I enjoyed most this year — because the mission and the charity are what it’s all about. Rachel Mallett’s Girl of the Year speech at Girls Inc.’s Celebration Luncheon blew me away. Despite only being 14, this young woman spoke with such confidence and grace, you could hear a pin drop — and she memorized her 8-minute long speech, something most people couldn’t do! And, although addressing a tough subject matter, the Child Protection Center’s Blue Ties & Butterflies event, chaired by Alisa Pettingell, raised an unprecedented amount of funds and the dropping of the marbles in the Pillar of Hope was touching.
Molly Schechter: My highlights include Peggy and Ken Abt as the first non-Jews to chair Jewish Family & Children’s Service gala (when they learned that most of agency’s services go to non-Jews); Wendy Feinstein’s Argentine Tango at CANDance; the flash mob at the Planned Parenthood Dinner honoring Barbara Zdravecky’s 20 years on the job there; Ken McCurdy’s hysterical commentary on senior sex at the Senior Friendship Center “Musicale & Musings;” Jay Leno’s performance for the Van Wezel Foundation fundraiser the day after his final “Tonight Show;” and we should not fail to mention the sad loss of three great ladies: Jewel Ash in October and Deane Allyn and Helen Rogers this spring.
Phil Mancini: With all the events we were involved in this past season, one thing is certain — it was a standout year for each of them. It seemed like every single function was “up.” From setting fundraising auction records, bringing in celebrity guests and pulling off surprise appearances, to selling out quicker than ever and wowing guests with extravagant decor at Sarasota’s best venues, it was a fantastic season in Sarasota.
Diana Buchanan: Some of my favorites moments were having designer Michelle Smith from Milly at Wine, Women and Shoes; dropping a marble into the Pillar of Hope at the CPC’s Blue Ties & Butterflies event; and the vocalist (who was a beneficiary of YMCA programs) at the YMCA’s Going for the Gold “The Golden Lotus.”
Marjorie Floyd: The long table on Lemon Avenue at Florida Winefest & Auction’s Banquet on the Block was fresh and fun. There were 200 people sharing food, wine and stories in perfect weather on a city street; the food at Goodwill’s annual Mardi Gras event was delicious — “Michael’s does New Orleans” and we get fat; the family at the Glasser/Schoenbaum’s Art of Caring event shared the most compelling personal story. Having benefitted from health care provided at the center the eldest son of dedicated and hard-working parents is now studying to be a doctor. Their presence and quiet dignity touched hearts and opened wallets.
Debbie Seitl: First vote goes to Orchid Ball for the best band; most inspiring moment and overall great award goes to the Girls Inc. Celebration Luncheon. I was so impressed with the poise of the Girls Inc. girls.
Sally Schule: I would say my overall feeling is that many of the events took a look back and reinvented themselves and many really elevated the bar — imagine what 2014-2015’s season will look like. Rectrix was a great venue for the Moffitt fashion show, the ARC gala team really moved the event up the ladder — the ballroom looked awesome and passion poured, Sarasota Orchestra’s “Anu Time” gala was so elegant and there was total community involvement in welcoming Anu Tali, and Firefly Gala gets the Oscar for positive thoughts, proactive moves and doing the rain dance. The sky turned blue just as the party began … and I got to wear rain boots to a party.
Victoria Snyder: Pique Nique was my favorite event for sure — it was a beautiful setting and fabulous fashion show.
Scott George: The Manhattan skyline, the beautiful women and the entertainment at the Asolo Gala were superb. The Ritz-Carlton has never looked so magical.
Mary Lou Winnick: Walking into the Ritz-Carlton ballroom for the Asolo Rep Gala and immediately transported high above NYC to the Rainbow Room atop Rockefeller Center with a 180-degree view north and west of sunset shining upon both the Empire State and the Chrysler buildings and beyond. Wow!
Heather Dunhill: I loved the fashion show at Wine, Women and Shoes. It was beyond, especially the Black Swan-esque ballerinas; the band at the Night of Hope was phenomenal — that dance floor was packed from the first song, some of us didn’t want the night to end; and I’m an annual fan of Pique Nique, but this year it had a new and improved vibe.
‘Men Who Cook’ takes the cake … An auction of homemade cakes is a highlight of Men Who Cook. Scott Anderson, of Gulf Coast Community Foundation, auctioned 10 of them for a total of $10,450 and the foundation matched with first $5,000 of that with funds for student tickets to the current Asolo production of “Hero.” The party team imported food professional Stacey Baliss from Chicago to present awards in three categories. “Best Decorated Table” went to Linda DiGabriele, wife of Chef Gary Sweetman for jungle décor. “Fun Factor” went to Bob Bartner’s table with an Alcatraz theme that sprang from Chef Christian Hershman’s “Jail Bird Meatloaf.” Baliss gave her “Judge’s Choice” award to one of the two cakes that sold for $2,000. The winner was a “Wacky Cake” (no eggs, no dairy) baked by Miro, 13, and Monet, 11 — the daughters of Chef Scott and Jill Ramsey, who were celebrating their 18th wedding anniversary at the affair … It seems like only yesterday … May 28 will mark 54 years of wedded bliss for John and Janet Hunter … The Bartner Awards … Sarasotans Beverly and Bob Bartner (he is the former president of the Asolo Rep Board, she the force majeure behind many Asolo events) saw four of their productions win Olivier Awards in London. And there are 17 Tony Award nominations for their American projects ... Happy hyperbole… It can only be an exaggeration that Women’s Resource Center board president Renee Hamad celebrated 70 years on May 9 … Oh Happy Day … Mary Anne Servian and John Simon wed at Church of the Redeemer on May 10 … Is turnabout is fair play … Cliff Roles took the subject’s side of the lens to share his 2013 “walkabout” with the GulfsidePalm chapter of ORT on May 6 …
+ ‘Tis the new season … As we move into summer living, don’t forget next season is just around the corner. BT is collecting events for the 2014-2015 Black Tie social calendar — if we don’t know about it, we can’t cover it! Please email event information to [email protected] … Farewell to the 2013-2014 season … Thank you for reading this column. See you again in October …