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Black Tie Untied

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 10, 2014
Sandy Buchanan, Wendy Merriman and Veronica Brady at the Van Wezel Foundation Gala
Sandy Buchanan, Wendy Merriman and Veronica Brady at the Van Wezel Foundation Gala
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Van Wezel Foundation Gala featuring Jay Leno

Leave it to Sarasota: Jay Leno hosted his last Tonight Show Thursday, Feb. 6, and on Friday, Feb. 7, he was on stage at Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall entertaining the guests at the Van Wezel Foundation Gala.

The 13th annual Van Wezel Foundation Gala began with cocktails on the Bay, where more than 500 guests enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction before being seated in the tent for dinner, which was elegantly decorated by Mary Kenealy Events.

Following the pre-performance dinner, catered by Michael’s On East,  guests made their way to the hall for Jay Leno's act. Opening for him was The Blenders — among the members in the band is Tim Kasper, a Sarasota resident.

At the end of Leno’s hilarious show, the comedian pulled the wining ticket for the Lexus chance drawing — the lucky winner of the 2014 Lexus IS 250 F Sport was from Nashville.

The fun didn’t stop there — following the show, guests enjoyed the after party and danced the night away to the tunes of Inpulse Entertainment. Perfect “late night” snacks were offered at the after party, which included cheeseburger sliders, fries and an impressive dessert table.

Kathy Martella, Lucille Smith and Brenda Maraman chaired the event.

The Palm Ball at Bay Preserve ‘This Land is Your Land’

The Palm Ball, notably one of the most elegant events of the year, lived up to its reputation. Trumpets sounded at the arrival of each car as they pulled onto the beautiful property, where they were then greeted by the receiving line of co-chairs — Janelle Beruff, Mickey Davis, Ariane Dart, Margaret Wise and Honorary Chairwoman Cornelia Matson.

The 300 guests — “We had to cap it off at 300,” says Matson — were encouraged to dress in “citrus-inspired” black tie attire, reflecting the citrus theme of this years "This Land is Your Land" event.

“The orange trees, the citrus, it’s a perfect representation of the history of Florida and the cause that this event is representing,” says Dart.

The grounds were beautifully decorated according to the theme and the tent was stunning — orange balloons hung from the ceiling with string lights, orange trees lined the perimeter of the tent and oranges were used as the table centerpieces.

The event, which benefits the Conservation Foundation of the Gulf Coast, also featured a paddle raise and a live auction.


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