Like was mentioned before, Saturday, April 21, was a slam-bang-theater of goings-on’s in Dallas. In addition to Greer Garson and the Great Adventure Hunt, there were private gatherings like the Underwood wedding reception at the Dallas Country Club and more fundraising types.
In fact two of them were taking place at the same time at the Omni Dallas. It was a battle royale of the Junior Achievement Business Hall of Fame vs. the Celebrity Waiter Gala that was supposed to benefit the Child Abuse Prevention Center. Well, it did and it didn’t. More about that later.
Alas, poor Peggy Sewell was one of those trying to accommodate two entirely different groups at the same time. After checking in on the JA event, she headed back to her home to host a dinner for the St. Mark’s crowd. Don’t worry about Peggy. She’s a veteran at juggling events.
And speaking of juggling, that’s what was happening at the Celebrity Waiters’ dinner. Waiters of all categories — Dallas Cowboys cheerleaders Kaitlin Ilseng and Ashton Torres; reality show
personalities Drew Ginsburg, Matt Nordgren and Melissa Poe; media types Samantha Davies, Vivian Fullerlove and Starlene Stringer; runway
vets Rhonda Sargent Chambers, Kris Clinton and Alonso Martinez; restaurateurs Todd Conger, Wendy Krispin, Janice Provost and Matt Mortimer;
entertainers Sonia Acevedo, Rusty Johnson, Missy Younts Lorant and Bryan Massey, and all-around characters Angie Barrett, Steve Carbone, Gretchen Darby, Sheryl and Eric Guth, Judith “Mrs. Permian Basin International 2012″ Harris, Emily Lites, Joe Pacetti and James Yarbrough were warming up in a side room. Old friends like Bryan and Sonia were catching up, when Sonia revealed that she could do 1-, 2- and 3-minute “planking” for her table guests. Hey, it takes more than schlepping plates to get stellar tips.
Angie admitted that she hadn’t been a celeb waiter since 1998. Then she saw some people at DIFFA and they extended an invitation to her, so that was that. But that’s not to say that Angie has been sitting home waiting for invites. Nope, in addition to losing 15 pounds, she’s been serving on “19 boards” and developing a reality show.
Yup, they were all there comparing notes on how to raise money without starving the guests to death. But wait, there was one person missing. It was the honorary celebrity Melissa Rycroft. Somebody said that she had to bow out at the last minute due to scheduling demands of her docu-series for CMT. Instead of sending flowers, Melissa donated two VIP tickets to the live finale taping of this season’s “Dancing with the Stars” for the live auction.
Across the hallway guests were checking out each other and the silent auction items that seemed to be everywhere. It was a very special occasion for the group since they were honoring the people (Kristi and Jody Bare, Sherice and Tim Brown, Mary Bowman Campbell, Dodee Frost Crockett, Linda and Scott Davis, Ida and Gerald Deats, George Ellis, Bruce Esterline/The Meadows Foundation, Ike Vanden Eykel, Teresa and Don Garland, Donna Lane, Sarah Losinger, Margaret and Randy Michero, Paul Neinast, Erin and Scott Olson, Joe Pacetti, Margaret M. Patterson, Julie and Steve Rado, Elisa and Steve Reiter, E.J. and Dr. Mike Rodgers, Nancy C. and Richard R. Rogers, April and Sam Spicer and Alice and Bill Wright), who had supported during the organization’s “providing life-altering services to 37,368 children and parents in the most vulnerable communities of Dallas.”
Just before the doors opened to the ballroom, Executive Director Jessica Slie Trudeau took over the mic from the DJ for an announcement. She explained to the cocktailers that the organization’s old name was “too intimidating to people.” So thanks to The Richards Group, a name change had taken place and it was making its debut at that very moment. What would the new name be? Family Compass, because “the agency strives to guide parents and point them in a direction that will forever take families on a healthy path.”
As the news settled in, the ballroom opened up with the new logo on the screen over the stage. The guests (Tanya Roberts, Frank Mays, Diana Oliver, Alessandro Gorgognoni, Carrie Bevers and the Bares) at Joe Pacetti’s tables arrived to find no chairs. Oh, that could be rectified according to the accommodating Joe for a mere $20 a seat. Money was coughed up and it wasn’t the last time. Joe warned his table that his goal was at $2,000 for the night.
To help that number go down easier, Tanya ordered a bottle of Dom Perignon. A hotel staffer was sent off to fetch it. Moments later the server returned warning the price tag would be $1,000. Would that go to Family Compass? Nope. Tanya smiled and said if she was going spend that kind of money, she would make a donation to the nonprofit.
Joe returned to the table with a new offer. He, Angie and Parigi sweetheart Janice Provost had put together a package deal — dinner created by Janice for eight at Angie’s penthouse with Angie’s wine for $1K. Raising the Pacetti eyebrow, he added, “It you want Angie along with it, it’s seven figures!”
As the guests started checking their budgets to see if they could splurge on such an occasion, celeb waiter Carla came over. To describe Carla, one would have to acknowledge that she has “healthy lungs” as the gentlemen at the table found out. She headed over to Frank and shared his chair. Looking at the rest of his tablemates, Frank joked, “I’m feeling a little violated right now. . . My life is an open book!” Without missing a beat, Angie added, “Her shirt is an open shirt.”
Seriously though, Carla’s well-endowed curves are a source of pride. It was 18 years ago that she weighed 330 pounds and lost 135 of them in nine months, earning her a new figure and an appearance on “Oprah.”
At the back of the room were two or three tables that stood unfilled. Had there been a slew of no-shows? Nope. Pretty soon the worn-out waiters trudged to the empty tables for their dinners. Well, not all of ‘em. It was interesting to note that the foodie types like Janice and Wendy continued to work the tables. And even these two were out-worked by Wendy’s twins, Neely and Peter. They were hitting the tables like IHOP staffers on Sunday morning. But then this isn’t their first rodeo. Team Krispin’s efforts have resulted in critical reviews each year.
Joe opted to leave instead of stay with the herd of waiters. Before the man with the chains about his neck left for the Underwood wedding, he reported that he had exceeded his $2K goal plus $1,800 for the dinner for eight by Janice at Angie’s.
While some stayed to party, others started heading to their cars with barely enough to tip valets. What they discovered were guests (Tom Dunning, David Johnson, Garrett Boone, etc.) from the Junior Achievement dinner waiting for their rides. JA Honoree/SMU’s Dr. Gerald Turner held his award as he watched others hop in their vehicles and depart. After waiting 20 minutes, someone offered him a ride and he said, “I think we’ve got a car — if they haven’t sold it!”
As we said before, April 21 was quite a night.