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Black Tie & Tales

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 12, 2014
Robyn LaPorta, Michelle Bente, Erin Duggan and Tara Poulton
Robyn LaPorta, Michelle Bente, Erin Duggan and Tara Poulton
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+ Van Wezel Foundation has a big night
The Van Wezel Foundation gala Feb. 7 was a hit any way you measure it: More than 500 guests at the party, a sold-out performance by Jay Leno and a record-beating auction. It’s not unusual for an auctioneer to sell an item twice, but how many times have you seen five? A Sonoma Valley wine tour sold that many times at $5,500 each. It was a long haul, but Van Wezel Foundation President and CEO Monica Van Buskirk reports auction sales at around $150,000 — shades of the good old days. With an impressive number of $25,000 sponsors, Co-Chairwomen Kathy Martella, Brenda Maraman and Lucille Smith had a big night.

Guests at the pre-performance dinner included Joy Naylor, Robert Day, Margarete VanAntwerpen, Ed Kalin and Maggie Ross, Roger and Ellen DeRose, Dottie Baer Garner and her daughter, Betsy Garner Wyant, and Van Buskirk’s daughter, Gabrielle Slater, visiting from Los Angeles. See more photos here.

Also having a big night was Leno’s opening act, The Blenders, and its members, Tim Kasper, Ryan Lance, Darren Rust and Allan Rust. Although the rest of the members live in Minneapolis-St. Paul, singer Kasper resides in Sarasota with his wife, Melanie, so this performance was a great homecoming. The group is celebrating its 25th anniversary; it first opened for Leno in 1994 in Las Vegas (with many other joint appearances since then).

“It is very cool to finally be performing at the Van Wezel. I have lived in Sarasota for 11 years, and this is my first time there,” says Kasper. “We are thrilled to be able to work with Jay Leno his first night away from ‘The Tonight Show.’”

+ Tidbits
Happy day … Hosted by Erin Duggan, Robyn LaPorta and Tara Poulton, Michelle Bente’s baby shower did not exactly happen as planned. Michelle and husband, Michael’s, twins, Madelynn and Mason, surprised everyone when they arrived more than 14 weeks early (currently receiving excellent care at All Children’s Hospital). Because the shower had already been planned, friends decided to change the theme to celebrate the arrival of the little ones. Also in attendance were Olivia Thomas, Brooke Cherry, Jennifer Simms and grandmothers Estelle Todora and Sharon Bente ... More good numbers … No less an expert than Margaret Wise, remarkably a co-chair of the Palm Ball since its inception in 2008, reports, “It was the best one of the Palm Balls, I thought. Cutting it back to 300 and fixing the parking problem really worked. And they made more on the paddle raise than they ever did.”… Standout of the week … Palm Ball Co-Chairwoman Janelle Beruff looked “roar-ing” in a mint green Gucci gown last weekend. It just so happens that Katy Perry also wore the stunner to the 55th annual Grammy Awards … Outing an octo ... Tall, handsome Howard Rooks celebrated his natal anniversary with family Feb. 8 ... Do you have what it takes to be one of the Men Who Cook? … There’s room for a few more brave men to get in on the fun by participating in the fourth annual edition of this casual, creative evening benefiting Asolo Rep. For more info, call Laura Wood at 351-9010, Ext. 4712.

To see more photos from each hot flash event, visit here and here.

a Bella Intimates & Boutique Grand Opening



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