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Black Tie & Tales

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  • | 5:00 a.m. February 26, 2014
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+ A weekend of surprises
This past weekend was one for the party books. There were at least four surprise parties that BT knows of. Happy birthday to all!

Dr. Raj Nalluri planned a birthday surprise for his wife, Dr. Chippy Naluri, while enjoying a weekend in New York City. Expecting to have a quiet family dinner, the birthday girl was shocked to see friends Dr. Thomas and Linda Doan and their children at Le Cirque. The Doans surprised her with a green tea cake from Lady M.

Thinking she was just meeting girlfriends Ashley Kozel and Emily Stroud in the limo, Liebe Gamble was surprised to see friends Deborah Blue and Heather Dunhill also waiting inside for a Champagne toast. The ladies whisked the birthday girl away to a surprise dinner with more friends and hubby, Billy, at State Street Eating House. The party included Rich and Kristen Williams, Chris and Aimee Cogan, and Geoffrey and Brenda Michel.

Joe Farrell got the “Surprise!” chant for his 60th birthday. Wife, Kristen, pulled off a “Wings and Fros” themed party held at Jesse and Katie Biter’s — the theme came about because the Farrells own Wings and Afrohead wines. Joe’s daughter, Tess, 13, and her band even performed for the crowd.

And, finally, to cap off his month-long celebrations, Matt Brown was shocked to walk into Southgate Community Center with wife, Connie, and see 120 friends and family singing “Happy Birthday” (not the art gallery opening that he thought he was attending). After cutting the cake, friends stood up and told a memorable story about their experiences with Matt, a retired dentist and World Senior Olympic athlete. The room was full of love, and guests included Anne Hyrniewicz, Manny Garcia, Larry Rosenthal, Matt Zito, Barb Topel and Ken Brinker.

“I am not the only one who thinks Matt is pretty special,” says Connie. “I wanted to find a way to show him how I feel and how so many others feel about him.”

+ Tidbits
Flowergate ... To quote Gordon Greenfield, vice president of marketing, sales and public relations for Sarasota Orchestra, “We’re all enthralled. The excitement over Anu is quite literally palpable … not only by the audiences, but musicians and staff, too.” Thus it was “say it with flowers” all weekend. After the Friday night performance, the tiny new music director was almost literally bowled over by a huge bouquet from Marina Kaljurand, ambassador of the Republic of Estonia to the United States, and another from Sten Schwede, consul general of the Republic of Estonia. Both dignitaries traveled from Washington, D.C., to see the concert and greet her afterward. On Saturday, there were flowers for her and for soloist Ray Chen, from the Sarasota Orchestra, arranged by board member Susan Sofia ... Missing in action … long-time supporter Jennifer Saslaw had to miss the “A-nu Time” gala due to a bee sting on her foot. It had swelled so much that she could not fit into any shoe and could hardly walk … Sarasota style … There was plenty of it Saturday night, with Co-Chairs Beathe Elden and Christine Isaacs in black (by Craig Signer) and blue, Dr. Susan Weinkle in beige and black lace, and Unni Kaltenbacher in white Chanel … Warm wishes … to Gerri Laurino, creative director at 530 Burns Gallery and Yvan Maillet from Montreal, who married Feb. 16 at Lido Beach … I heart St. Jude … was the theme at a Feb. 20 kickoff luncheon at the home of Beverly Bartner. Bartner, along with Nikki Taylor and Montana Taplinger, hosted the luncheon to introduce St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital to the Sarasota community. Each woman told a personal story, explaining why they’d like the organization to be more involved in the area — in addition to providing a personal connection, it serves local families as well as collaborates with local hospitals in gaining traction in finding a cure. Seen mingling at the luncheon was Sarah Lodge, Jennifer Rust and Merete Hermansen. If you’d like to be involved in a future event, contact Veena Shrestha at 813-868-2703.

+ Black Tie Affair: Madcap Evening 2014 ‘Musicale & Musings’
Nothing beats Friendship Centers’ “Madcap Evening” for an out-of-the-box, slightly wacky evening, and this year’s fifth edition raises that bar. Chairwoman Debbie Frank is promising an “eclectic confabulation of music, wit and whimsy” March 4. Les McCurdy will emcee and entertain along with Jairo Hernandez and his Tierra Nueva Band and humorist Richard Cook, plus returning favorites Tsadok Porter of the Westcoast Black Theatre Troupe and artists from the Sarasota Opera. There will be an exciting live auction with “bucket list” dream vacations and fine jewelry, a silent auction and a sit-down dinner created by Chef Paul Mattison and an open bar — all this for $150. Funds raised support the mission of the Friendship Center: to promote health, dignity and quality of life through the journey of aging. Co-Chairs are JoAnn Nevins, Ingrid Keating, Joan Arnold and Sunny O’Flynn. Honorary Chairs are Harold Ronson, Molly Schechter and Betty Schoenbaum. For more information, call 556-3205 or visit



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