PLUS "INTO THE WILD" AT THE BEAR TIE BALL; RMHC'S NEW HOUSE; AN EVENING IN BLOOM; JAY AND DAVID'S HUMANITIES HONOR; LEGENDARY LANDMARKS 2014; FOUR STARS FOR ST. JUDE; CHICAGO FILM FESTIVAL TV AWARDS; JOFFREY SPRING GALA; MERIT SCHOOL OF MUSIC HONORS RENEE; ZARADA AND MARK'S FURRY FUNDRAISER; JEN WEIGEL'S EMPOWER HOUR; CHEFS & THE CITY; A STYLISH STYLIST'S WORKSHOP; TWO CHICAGO HOTELS ON IT LIST; BARRINGTON'S RUN FOR THE DERBY PARTY; CHICAGO FIRE AND P.D.'S WRAP PARTY; BIRTHDAY WISHES FOR FRIENDS AND SO MUCH MORE!
Redmoon Theater's Spectacle Lunatique is one of the most visually exciting fundraisers in town and, this year, they honored tech entrepreneur Howard Tullman with the Galvanizer Award for his contributions to the "vibrancy of Chicago." The ceremony surrounding his introduction to the crowd was straight out of Julius Caesar! Preceded by a 30 piece drummer band, Howard arrived on a rickshaw pulled by Redmoon theater members. Talk about an entrance! Spotlights followed him around the 18,000 square-foot warehouse space in Pilsen before he climbed the ladder of a sky-high podium where a video played behind him thanking him for his contributions to Chicago and beyond. The rest of the evening was equally as exciting beginning with a gigantic swing-set where guests were encouraged to take turns upon their arrival. I saw pool playing bears, cocktail servers dressed as tables and some in Victorian garb offering drinks from ancient looking bicycles. Bright red balloons carried hors d'oeuvres as well as tiny remote controlled drones that delivered sweets to attendees! I felt like I had truly fallen down the rabbit hole just like Alice. Several of Chicago's top chefs presented their culinary creations at tasting stations, including Luca Corazzin (312Chicago), Thai Dang of Embeya, Jerl Griffin of Flemming's Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar, Mark Mendez of Vera and Jason Vincent of Nightwood, to name a few. Aerial artists from Redmoon and Aerial Dance Chicago performed overhead and aided the chefs in presenting their creations from the sky to the mouth. At 8 pm, executive artistic director Jim Lasko and producing artistic director Frank Maugeri greeted the crowd via video, sharing a preview of the Great Chicago Fire Festival, which launches this summer with a series of community workshops in 15 different Chicago neighborhoods, culminating in a grand finale river procession on the Chicago River, October 4. Throughout the evening, guests had a chance to enjoy a private 10-minute tasting dinner prepared by Michael Carlson of Schwa complete with a serenading opera singer for a donation of $1000 (I saw the Mayor and wife Amy Rule partaking), or a private birthday party for two with a bear, fireworks and Redmoon performers for a $250 donation. The night continued with an open bar, sweet and savory bits, and music and dancing. Matt and Lucy Moog served as co-chairs for this fantasy-filled gala that attracted 750 and raised nearly $400,000 for Redmoon's free public summer programming. (Photos by Al Zayed).
It was a lovefest at the UIC Forum for the 21st annual Bear Tie Ball, "Into the Wild, a Road to the Cure" benefitting Bear Necessities Pediatric Cancer Foundation on Saturday, March 8. More than 600 suppporters turned out to raise funds for this organization that was founded in 1993 by Kathleen Casey in honor of her dear son, Barrett "Bear" Krupa. Bear passed away at age 8 after battling a form of pediatric cancer called Wilms tumor, all through his illness he showed more concern for other young patients than he did for himself. Inspired by his compassion, his mother Kathleen founded Bear Necessities in his honor. Bear passed away not long after the Foundation was formed but his loving legacy will live on through the dedication and compassion of his loving mom, sister Courtney Krupa and legions of friends and supporters. So this night wasn't only a fundraiser, but also a celebration of the "Bear". The evening began in the ginormous Pavilion where guests had a chance to bid on an extensive silent auction. The auction had many creative items but my favorite part was the children's artwork. Painted by young cancer patients, the pieces included a Chicago Blackhawk portrait by Dominic Damato, an owl painting by Alysn Kee and a darling child's chair painted, again in honor of the Blackhawks, by the talented Giselle Fernandez. NBC-5's Peggy Kusinski was the emcee for the evening and did a fabulous job, as she always does. She wears her passion on her sleeves for so many worthy events around town and it was wonderful to see her at the podium. She acknowledged special guests Alderman Bob Fioretti(with his beautiful Nicki Pecori), Cheryl and Mario Tricoci, Sandy and Gary Fencik, designer Mark Roscoe, Anna Davlantes and longtime supporters Tracy and Ross Scurto, Jr. She went on to say, " The Foundation has become a national leader raising more than $16.9 million for critical research and support services with a presence in 36 states, Canada, and as far away as Germany. Amazingly, Bear Necessities receives NO funding from any state or federal agencies. Every dollar they raise comes directly from donations and events like this." Father Paul White, Bear's parish priest, delivered the invocation. He has a wonderful demeanor and knows how to present just the right balance of seriousness and humor. He ended his prayer with a plea for the Cubs and the crowd loved it and him. Auction Chair Kristine Farra did a great job with the live auction! There were such exciting packages like a guitar signed by Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, Ron Wood and Charlie Watts (that sold for $5K, I think somebody got a steal!). A darling Labradoodle named Parker almost went home with Paul Iacono who drove the bidding up to $12K but, in the end, the perky pup was won by Shea and John Bubeck for $12,500. A moving video featured young cancer patients and their wishes for the future. Kathleen and Courtney presented the William J. Casey Hope Awards, named in honor of Bear's grandpa, to the Magellan Group and Dr. Stewart Goldman. Bob Arthur, president of Magellan, accepted the award on his company's behalf and said, "The mission of Bear Necessities is a righteous one." Dr. Goldman, a neuro-oncologist at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital, was one of Bear's doctors. Kathleen introduced him by saying, "From squirt gun fights to the worst jokes, he bribes kids to get motivated. He gets it when others don't. He was there with me through Bear's scans and delivered a heartfelt speech at his memorial. We must further our commitment to funding research and we need more Stewart Goldmans!" Dr. Goldman responded, "Knowing Bear was always about knowing fun. I learned about courage, strength and giving back from him." It was such a moving part of the evening and I was so proud and honored to serve as the event chair. Goldman then introduced Bear Hug Ambassador Abigail Phillips, 25, who was his patient. She was diagnosed with brain cancer at 13 and is now working on her master's degree. She joked that the doctors advised her to "milk this for all its worth." She said she "owed her life" to "Dr. Stew" and that "he always tried to find a better way to treat cancer so kids wouldn't have to suffer the way I did." A Fund a Bear auction and raffle followed before dancing and dessert began. Wonderful supporter Jacob Neminarz of Sugar Hills Bakery supplied tasty cookies shaped like, what else, a bear! More than $650,000 was raised to support the programs of Bear Necessities, the Bear Hug program which provides customized experiences for kids battling cancer, and the Bear Discoveries Program which provides grants to researchers. There are lots of ways to help, so please check out their website and become a Bear-lanthropist, too! (Congrats to last year's co-chairs Nina Mariano and Tracy Scurto). Thanks to Buccellati for my beautiful jewels, too! (Photos by Mila Samokhina).
The 50th Annual Chicago International Film Festival Television Awards will return to the Radisson Blu Aqua (221 N. Columbus Dr.) on Thursday, April 10. Co-hosted by Mary Ann Childers and Jay Levin, this evening will also honor Chicago Fire actor Jesse Spencer with the 2014 Artistic Achievement Award. "CSI" executive producer Carol Mendelsohn, will receive this year's Commitment to Excellence Award for Television and production company STORY will receive the Commitment to Excellence Award for Television Commercials. (For tickets, $100, and more info, click here, or call (312) 683-0121). Hope to see YOU there!
Ronald McDonald House Charities of Chicagoland and Northwest Indiana and partner Cadence Health broke ground on the 5th Ronald McDonald House at the site of the western suburbs’ first House on Tuesday, March 18. As the snow melted at 25 Winfield Road – the address of the new home, directly across the street from Central DuPage Hospital – it was clear that spring, and construction on the new home, are just around the corner. Guests of the event were encouraged to write messages of hope and togetherness in metallic ink on small, smooth stones. The stones will greet families staying at the new home, and guests will be encouraged to take a stone as they leave, after their stay, as a source of ongoing inspiration for their families’ recovery and journey of healing. A model of the beautiful two-story, $6.25 million Ronald McDonald House near Cadence Health was a focal point at the event. The new House will feature 12 family-size bedrooms, laundry and kitchen facilities. Families of patients at CDH, Delnor Hospital in Geneva and the CDH Proton Center in Warrenville will be able to use the facility. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2015. Congrats RMHC!! (www.ronaldhouse.org)
Former Chicago Bear Jerry Azumah and The Azumah Student Assistance Program Fund are teaming up with Laugh Factory Chicago to bring you some of the best comedians in Chicago on Tuesday, April 8, at the Laugh Factory (3175 Broadway)! "Laugh Out Loud," will be hosted by WGCI's Leon Rogers, and will feature well known comedians including Tony Sculfield, Brian Babylon, Vanessa Fraction, Liza Treyger and Clark Jones. VIP ticket holders will enjoy an hour-long pre-event private cocktail reception with comedians and hosts beginning at 6:30 pm that will include light fare and preferred show seating. (General admission seating will begin at 7 pm with the comedy show beginning at 8:00 pm). For tickets, beginning at $25, click here! (Experience the fun from last year on my Watch312.com video with co-hosts Jerry Azumah and Israel Idonije!!!
After this long, cold Chicago winter, spring’s coming-out party, an "Evening in Bloom", showcased the eye-candy colors and sweet fragrances of the season. The benefit and preview of the Chicago Flower & Garden Show kicked off the season in style inside Navy Pier’s Festival Hall on March 14. Bob and Nina Mariano, of Mariano’s, presenting sponsor, co-chaired the event. Honoring the show’s theme, “Do Green. Do Good.”, the event benefitted several local nonprofit organizations and businesses including the Union League Boys & Girls Clubs, Chicago Gateway Green, Garden Gallery & Studio, Peterson Garden Project and Urban Alliance. Congrats Nina and Bob! I love this event that makes us all dream of the light at the end of the winter tunnel. www.chicagoflower.com.
The ninth annual Legendary Landmarks awards honored Theaster Gates, Joseph Antunovich, and the corporate landmark, John A. Terlato and Terlato Wines with Landmark status. The awards were given at Landmarks Illinois’ Legendary Landmarks Celebration on Thursday, March 13 at the Four Seasons Chicago. Former CBS anchor Bill Kurtis, a legend himself,was Master of Ceremonies.The event co-chairs were Richard Driehaus and Dan McCaffery. The Celebration Committee included Shelley Gorson and Janet Rotner, co-chairs, Madeline Gelis, Frieda Ireland, Karen Prieur, and Sandra Rand. This labor of love and landmarks paid off since this event was the organization's largest one to date with more than 600 guests, raising the most funds, over $660,000! There were 11 Legendary Landmarks in attendance besides the evening's honorees. They included Richard Driehaus, Leslie Hindman, Richard Gray, Michael Kutza, Susan and Lew Manilow, John W. McCarter, Jr., John Vinci, Father Jack Wall, Lee Flaherty and Jane Nicholl Sahlins. Congrats to all! (Photos by Diane Alexander White Photography).
The Illinois Humanities Council (IHC) has announced it will be honoring Jay Franke and David Herro with the 2014 Public Humanities Award at the IHC’s annual benefit luncheon on Tuesday, May 20, at the Palmer House Hilton. Given annually by the IHC since 1984, the Public Humanities Award recognizes individuals and organizations who have helped transform lives and strengthened communities through the humanities. Together, Jay and David have played an instrumental role in the founding and growth of the Chicago Dance Festival, the only free festival of its kind in the nation. Since 2006, the Festival has since grown to present more than 55 exceptional dance companies from Chicago and cities throughout the country as well as abroad, and performed before more than 60,000 people while maintaining free admission for all. Co-Chairs are Antonio Gracias, Sabrina Gracias, Alton Harris, Andrea Kramer, Susan and Lew Manilow and Kerryann Haase Minton and Josef Minton. (For tickets or more info, call Monika Collins at 312.422.5584 or visit www.prairie.org/PHA. (All proceeds from the luncheon will support the Illinois Humanities Council).
On Tuesday, April 8, St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital will host its 20th annual Four Stars of Chicago Restaurant Extravaganza at the Sheraton Hotel & Towers. Since its inception, Four Stars has raised more than $7.9 million for the kids of St. Jude. This year's event will feature more than 20 of Chicago’s top restaurants with NBC 5 Chicago's Allison Rosati returning as emcee. Ron Boire, EVP, Chief Merchandising Officer and President, Sears & Kmart, will be the honorary chair. (For tickets and more info, visit www.stjude.org)
The Women's Board of The Joffrey Ballet will host its 12th Annual Spring Gala on Friday, April 25th at the Chicago Hilton. This year's theme, "We All Speak Dance," will be a celebration of the international language of dance, the company, and its educational programs. Through its Community Engagement and Joffrey Academy of Dance programs, the organization impacts the lives of thousands of children, teens and young adults, including more than 5,000 Chicago Public School children. The black-tie event will begin at 6:30 PM at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University (50 East Congress Parkway) with a special, one hour performance featuring dancers from the company as well as student dancers fromits programs. The performance will be followed by a trolley ride to the Hilton to enjoy cocktails, dinner and dancing. After dinner, the evening will continue with entertainment from the Bill Pollack Orchestra, as guests join the Joffrey company members on the dance floor. Tom Kehoe of Kehoe Designs will transform the historic Hilton ballroom with spectacular images from the Joffrey archives. The event’s co-chairs are Women’s Board members Elisabeth Adams and Dana Hokin Garvey. (www.joffrey.org/gala )
If you love animals, then I hope you can join me on Tuesday, April 22nd, for a concert to benefit Chicago Animal Care and Control (CACC) at Fourth Presbyterian Church (Anderson Hall), 126 E. Chestnut. Zarada Gowenlock and RL Restaurant will team up for this evening of music that will feature wine, hors d'oeuvres and entertainment provided by Mark Longo. Zarada has been volunteering for CACC for years and, after the success of the last RL Concert Series benefitting Ronald McDonald House Charities (and hosted by Ken Norgan), she thought this would be a great idea to raise some money for the Medical Fund of CACC to procure diagnostics and treatments for animals in need. For tickets ($100) and more info, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
It will be a star-filled night in Chicago when DuSable Museum of African American History presents it's annual "Night of 100 Stars Gala" on Saturday, April 5, at the South Shore Cultural Center. Honorees who have made outstanding contributions to society include Linda Johnson Rice, Kyndal Buchanan, Pastor Charles Jenkins, Dr. Carol Lee, Haki Madhubuti and Michael Wilbon. Val Warner and Charles Thomas will emcee. (For tix and more info, click here).
Merit School of Music will honor world renowned soprano Renee Fleming at its 35th Anniversary Gala on Thursday, May 8, at the Palmer House Hilton. Co-chaired by Judith Istock and Richard Thomas, the event will also include entertainment by Merit Honors Jazz Ensemble. For tickets, $500, and more info, click here.
Thanks to Darby Hills for bringing the Run for the Roses Derby Party to my attention! Save the date for this 4th annual event presented by Barrington Children's Charities on Saturday, May 3, at Old Barrington Farm, 26059 W. Scott Road in Barrington. (For tickets, $100, and more info, click here).
I'm thrilled to be an honorary co-chair, along with RL's Rich Varnes, for the annual Chefs and the City event on Wednesday, April 23, at the Union League Club, 65 W. Jackson Blvd. from 6-9 pm. Participating restaurants include Jellyfish, bellyQ, RPM Italian, Vincent, Sepia, Swirlz, Tanta, Azzurra EnoTavola, Karyn's Cooked, Mexique, The Lobby and Tre Soldi. This evening of elegance will feature creative cocktails, with an appetizer and four-course tasting menu prepared by these exceptional chefs to benefit Vital Bridges on Chronic Care Center. (For tickets and
more info, click here). Hope to see you there!
Class is in session! Celebrity fashion stylist and creative director for Zendaya Coleman, Law “Luxury” Roach, and former Miss Universe Organization Fashion Director, Alisha Crutchfield, are set to kick-off their first five-city Midwest tour for StyleWise Academy. The Academy will offer a crash course for would-be and wanna-be fashion stylists focusing on style kit necessities, how to win clients, secure paying jobs and more. Its first stop will be in Chicago on Saturday, April 12, at the Columbia College campus from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. Attendees will also be provided with lunch and have a meet-and-greet with the instructors. To register for a seat, receive updates and learn more information about tour dates, click here.
Birthday wishes are in order for two Chicago notables. Handsome man-about-town/philanthropist Paul Iacono celebrated with a birthday bash organized by friends Katie McLenaghan and Beth Feiwell. Beth's beautiful West Lakeview home was filled to bursting with FOP's (Friends of Paul's). I saw Peter and Cynthia Au, William Holdeman, Frances Renk, Laura Dantuma, Franco LaMarca, Marcus Boggs, Alex Vasileski, Kadmiel Christmas and Whitney Ariese, Juliane and John Donohue, Connie Dec and Jake Elvey, Jeff Shea and Melissa Hopgood, Jennifer and Joaquin Brieva, Margaret O' Connor and Michael O'Meara, Lori Allen and Chad Sodorholm, Cadey O'Leary Hershoff, Jeffrey Schwarz and Jacqui Rovirosa, Rachel DeMarte, Rhonda Sanderson and Samantha Amato. Photographer Lori Allen snapped pics which, much to the delight of the guests, were framed as take-away gifts at the end of the evening. Happy birthday Paul!
I was happy to celebrate my dear friend Rhonda Sanderson's birthday recently at Table 52 with her beautiful daughter (my goddaughter) Samantha Amato and her sister Debbie Pickus. Chef Art Smith's Sunday brunch menu made us weep it was so good. Happy to see Jesus Salgueiro dining there as well with Erica Mann Ramis, Harold Ramis' lovely widow. Happy BD Rhonda!!!
And last, but not least, Marc Brooks, president/CEO of Hyde Park Hospitality, celebrated his birthday with friends recently at the Godfrey Hotel. He had so many pals there I couldn't fit them all in one photo! They looked like they came straight from Central Casting, so cute!! Happy birthday Marc!
NBC’s Chicago Fire and Chicago P.D. celebrated the end of their taping with a wrap party at the Montgomery Club on Saturday, March 15th. Chicago Fire cast members in attendance included Taylor Kinney, Monica Raymund, Lauren German, Charlie Barnett, Christian Stolte and David Eigenberg. Jon Seda, Patrick John Flueger, Archie Kao, Elias Koteas and Amy Morton attended from Chicago P.D. NBC recently announced the renewal of both shows and is ranked No. 1 for adults aged 18 to 49, a demographic favored by advertisers. Everyone enjoyed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails from Gibson's Restaurant Group. Congrats to both!
The Women's Board and the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Zoological Society are hosting their annual Gala to benefit the Brookfield Zoo on Saturday, April 26. This black tie event, themed "Around the Whirl in 80 Years" will celebrate the 80th anniversary of this venerable city treasure at 3300 Golf Road in Brookfield, Ill. beginning at 6:30 pm. A. Marek Fine Jewelry is the presenting sponsor. For tickets and more info, call (312) 553-2000.
The “Women’s Empower Hour” at Metropolitan Capital (9 E. Ontario St.) welcomes Jenniffer Weigel (two f's, not a typo), Emmy-Award winning broadcast journalist, author and columnist for the Chicago Tribune, to host a discussion and Q&A on “Lessons for Life: Love Yourself and Align Yourself Spiritually,” at a complimentary luncheon on Wednesday, April 23, from 11:30 a.m.- 1:00 p.m. Jen has been a broadcast journalist in Chicago since 1995 starting in radio and then moving to television. She won an Emmy Award for her on-camera reporting at CBS, and is now a columnist and video contributor for the Chicago Tribune. She has written three books: Stay Tuned, I’m Spiritual, Dammit! and This Isn’t the Life I Ordered. Her one woman show “I’m Spiritual, Dammit!” had three successful runs on the Chicago stage. Jenniffer writes the Lessons for Life column for the Chicago Tribune. The “Women’s Empower Hour” series, featured quarterly throughout the year, offers informative workshops for proactive women in the Chicagoland area to learn and share ideas, stories and information. To RSVP for this complimentary event, please e-mail email@example.com.
Honoring diverse cultures will be the order of the day at the International Women Associates (IWA) Gala on Friday, April 11, in the Gold Coast Room of the Drake Hotel. "Sail Away with IWA" will take you on a virtual cruise that will include "ports of call" in Greece, Italy, Morocco and Turkey. Shop in these countries' colorful "bazaars" to bid on unique silent auction souvenirs of your trip. A portion of this year's proceeds will be directed to IWA's philanthropic programs including tutoring CPS students at Swift Elementary School, which has a large immigrant population. For tickets and more info, click here!
A pre-preview party was recently held in the Baker Furniture showroom at the Merchandise Mart to announce the 17th annual Preview Party for the Chicago International Art, Antique & Jewelry Show on April 24. The party will honor the 60th anniversary of the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. The show will run from 4/24 to 28 and will feature exhibitors from around the world. (For Preview Party tickets and/or more info, call 312.238.6023.
Hope you're enjoying our warmer weather! I have happy feet just anticipating what's to come!
Love, as always,