2017 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala Decorations Revealed Reflecting Maestro Jaap Van Zweden’s Farewell Celebration Season

Todd Fiscus and Adele Ichilian

Event guru Todd Fiscus had just returned from a break in Mexico. The weeks earlier had had him in Sonoma, Calif., and a ranch in Wyoming and everywhere but Mars. But thanks to NDA (non-disclosure agreements), all he could show for his handiwork was a tan.

Before presenting the sneak preview of the 2017 Dallas Symphony Gala lookey-lookey on Tuesday, August 15, at the Meyerson Symphony Center, he did fess up to Culinaire Catering Director Adele Ichilian about the newest event trend — cellphone check-ins. Seems that folks who are hosting big-time weddings, birthdays, whatevers don’t want to be in the swamp of social media. As Todd put it, social media has become the four horsemen of the apocalypse: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and SnapChat.

To solve the problem, Todd has created cellphone cubbyholes like yesteryear’s hotel key cubicles. Guests hand over their phones before entering the event, receive a receipt for the phone, and pick it up when leaving the occasion. While the guest is partying, Todd has arranged for the cellphones to be charged up.

Made sense. Example: For wedding photographers trying to capture the “money shot” of the newlyweds having that first kiss, the main aisle has been filled with guests’ arms stretching out with cellphones to also capture the moment.

Jana Etheridge and Clay and Lisa Cooley

Michelle Miller Burns and Randy Wilhoit

But on this night, Todd was laid back in shorts at the Meyerson for the DSO Gala décor presentation for guests including Jana Etheridge, Randall Wilhoit and Katherine and Key Coker.

According to Todd, DSO interim CEO Michelle Miller Burns and  DSO Gala Co-Chairs Lisa and Clay Cooley, there were “still a few tables available” for the Saturday, September 16, Gala, which will launch Farewell Celebration Season for departing  DSO Music Director Jaap Van Zweden, who’s decamping to lead the New York Philharmonic.

Therefore the Gala at the Meyerson will have a sort of “grand finale” look and feel, Todd said, with cool emerald greens (from the table linens to the Elephant ears from Brazil!) and malachite reflected throughout.

2017 Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala table setting

Joining Jaap and the DSO musicians will be the world-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma, who is always a North Texas music lover’s favorite.

The concert will be preceded by a cocktail reception and seated dinner in the Renaissance Foyer with Honorary Chair Margaret McDermott.

Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala After-Party seating

As for the much-anticipated after-party, by contrast, it will be a “fun, sexy version of an after-party,” all aquas and hot pinks with a DJ providing the music.  

Tickets for the season’s first formal gala range from concert-and-after-party tickets to full-blown Gala packages.

 

JUST IN: Art-Loving Rebecca Fletcher To Chair 2018 Art Ball With Theme And Date Already Set

Fess up. You honestly don’t know the difference between an Old World masterpiece and a paint-by-numbers painting. Now, don’t you feel better getting that off your chest? But you do know a real party with gorgeous people, incredible auction items, to-die-for dining and events that everyone is talking about. For instance, at the top of the list — the annual Art Ball.

So, continue with the honesty thinking. There was a time when the Dallas Museum of Art fundraiser was an over-the-top convention of art-hugging folks filling a tent that extended from the DMA to Ross. But last year the Art Ball took a major 90-degree turn. It downsized the guest list and the tent. But it upsized the excitement, the auction items and the OMG you-weren’t-there? factor thanks to Ann and Lee Hobson.

Rebecca Fletcher*

In the crowd was second-generation, art-loving  Rebecca Fletcher. (Her mama and papa, Bess and Ted Enloe, have been Dallas art supporters for decades.) How loving? She was tapped with the 2016 TACA Silver Cup and gave a killer acceptance talk.

But don’t go thinking that Rebecca is a stodgy type. For example, back in 2015 just before the Dallas Theater Center’s Moonshine Gala reception high atop the Wyly Theater, where all the glamour types were being charming, Rebecca’s heel got trapped in between the floor slats and snapped off. A gent pulled the heel out of its predicament and handed it to Rebecca, who pressed slipper and heel together and carried on.

Needless to say, Rebecca knows how to literally pull things off. So, it’s no surprise that she’s just been named to chair the 2018 Art Ball on Saturday, April 21, at the DMA.

The gal has already picked the theme — “Horizon: Now. New. Next.” — as well as the décor, thanks to event planner Todd Fiscus. Rebecca reports that it will “will focus on the DMA’s past and present while looking forward to its future… the event will feature modern, contemporary décor with a sculptural feel. Cascading color from the ceiling will mimic the vibrant horizon and will be reflected throughout in the mirrored décor.”

According to Rebecca, “As a long-time supporter of the Dallas arts community, I am honored to chair the 2018 Art Ball supporting the DMA, and I believe the theme of looking toward the horizon embodies the excitement surrounding the future of the Dallas Museum of Art and the opportunities that await. This year’s theme will bring the horizon to life through various artistic forms to create an event that will be remembered by guests for a lifetime, from live performances to beautiful artwork incorporated in new and exciting ways.”

Start dieting now, because Cassandra will be in the kitchen providing the vittles.

As for the live auction, after-party and other details, wait and see. In the meantime, budget this one on your expense account even if you don’t give a poof about art because you know you love a great party and memory maker.

* Photo provided by Dallas Museum of Art

MySweetCharity Opportunity: 2017 Cabaret Gala

According to Cabaret Gala Co-Chair Marisa Huckin,

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Have you ever dreamed of hearing Idina Menzel, Julie Andrews, Liza Minnelli, Bette Midler, Celine Dion and Barbra Streisand all in one night? This is your opportunity to get your fix for the nostalgia of the golden age of entertainment. The Dallas Children’s Theater is celebrating its 25th annual Cabaret Gala with the Dallas debut of YouTube sensation Christina Bianco. Dallas is truly lucky to host a performance by this two-time Drama Desk Award nominated actress, singer, and impressionist!

25th Anniversary Cabaret Gala*

Treat yourself to an evening of song, surprises, and shenanigans while sipping champagne at your candle lit table. You’ll be among the chicest of guests at The Fairmont Hotel as The Dallas Morning News describes the DCT’s Cabaret Gala as”…arguably Dallas’ coolest arts-related fundraiser!”

And speaking of fabulous attendees, the Cabaret Gala’s honorary chairs are steadfast civic supporters, Deborah and Craig Sutton. They will be joined by their uber talented and acclaimed actor son, Montgomery Sutton, who literally grew up on-stage at DCT. As ongtime supporters of the arts, Deanna DiPizio-Johnson and I are sharing the chairmanship duties for this 25th anniversary event.

Before the show you will have a chance to sip cocktails and buy raffle tickets while being charmed by the melodic voice of Dallas’ own Janelle Lutz. Your raffle ticket entitles you the opportunity to win one of four fantastic prizes included in the 2017 Cabaret Gala raffle. The prizes include luxury accommodation and travel packages to New York City, Cancun, and San Francisco, and a jewelry shopping spree. Travel packages include flight accommodations courtesy of Southwest Airlines.

This intimate and entertaining evening of song and escapade is not too be missed! For reservations or raffle ticket information contact Artie Olaison at 214.978.0110 or go to www.dct.org/gala/.

* Graphic provided by Dallas Children's Theater

MySweetCharity Opportunity: Dallas Symphony 2017 Gala

Clay and Lisa Cooley (File photo)

According to Dallas Symphony 2017 Gala Co-Chair Lisa Cooley,

My husband, Clay and I, are honored to serve as co-chairs of the Dallas Symphony 2017 Gala on Saturday, September 16th at the Morton H. Meyerson Symphony Center. Arguably, the world’s greatest living cellist Yo-Yo Ma will perform with Dallas Symphony Orchestra under the direction of Jaap van Zweden to the Farewell Season for the conductor.  We are thrilled to have philanthropist Margaret McDermott to serve as gala honorary chair. 

The black-tie evening, under the wizardry of designer Todd Fiscus, will include cocktails, the concert, seated dinner, After Party and dancing.  The After-Party is chaired by Graeme Ross and Lara and Brian Pryor.  After-Party honorary co-chairs are Wren and Benji Homsey.

Funds from the event will benefit the Dallas Symphony Orchestra’s education and community programs that reach more than 250,000 North Texas residents annually, including 30,000 children. Capital One is the gala concert sponsor.

For tickets or sponsorship opportunities, please visit Dallas Symphony Orchestra Gala.

Guests Came From Near And Far For The Sweet Sounds At The Sapphire Gala For Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra

It takes more than talent to perform at such venues at the Meyerson. It takes money to fine tune that talent. So The Sapphire Gala under the leadership of Venise Stuart did just that for the Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra on Sunday, May 18. Guests came from as far away as Colorado for the evening of dining, bidding and listening to young musicians at the Meyerson. Here’s a report from the field:

Through the ages, sapphires have been treasured for their sparkle, romance and beauty. The Greater Dallas Youth Orchestra (GDYO) glittered with brilliance at the Sapphire Anniversary’s Spring Gala and Season Finale celebrating 45 years in the community. It was held on Sunday, May 21, at the Meyerson Symphony Center and is the only fundraising event for the youth orchestra.

Dallas Jazz Institute*

The shimmering Gala included a silent auction and buffet dinner with music featuring performers from the GDYO Jazz Institute. It was followed by a full concert of the top ensemble featuring guest violinist Chee-Yun, and ended with post-concert desserts.

Dolores Barzune, Venise Stuart, Larry Barzune and Larry Stuart*

Venise Stuart was extremely proud and honored to be chairing the Gala.

“The young talent the Metroplex has is amazing,” said Venise. “It takes a true passion and commitment from everyone involved to deliver the amazing experience you will have this evening. The GDYO is a hidden gem in the city and these young musicians soar under the direction of Maestro Rick Giangiulio.”

Cynthia and Brice Beaird*

Honorary Co-Chairs were Cynthia and Brice Beaird, longtime supporters of the Dallas community. Cynthia is a founding Partner/Executive VP with Allie Beth Allman and Associates. Brice is the owner of the Beaird Agency, Inc. and also a singer/songwriter. 

GDYO provides DFW’s most talented young musicians with high quality instruction, challenging repertoire and the opportunity to come together and perform at world class venues like the Meyerson Symphony Center. It was founded in 1972 by parents, educators, and members of the Dallas music community to provide music education and performance opportunities for youth with demonstrated musical ability. The program includes over 450 talented musicians, ages 8 to 18, performing in two full orchestras, three string orchestras, a wind ensemble, a flute choir, and eight jazz combos, and socializing with a diverse group of highly talented peers from more than 50 communities.

Sherwood Wagner and Marena Gault*

“Many GDYO alums continue to study music at schools like Julliard, Cleveland Conservatory and others,” said GDYO Board Member Sherwood Wagner. “Regardless of the path they choose for their career, the students receive a world class music education/performance experience and a lifelong appreciation for arts.” 

There are a few notable alumni of the orchestra. Cathy Hernandez, the recently appointed Executive Director of GDYO, has come full circle by having been a musician with the orchestra while in high school, and now many years later, she heads the organization. Another familiar alumna from the program is Denise McGovern, who is currently Vice President of Communications at the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.

Cathy Hernandez and Don Nebhan*

Gerald and Dana Sampson*

Attendees included Marena Gault, Delores and Larry Barzune, Dana and Gerald Sampson, Norma and Don Stone, Heather and Jerry Moore, Doug Haloftis, Becky and Brad Todd and Sharon and Maurice Ballew.

Gerry and Dana Sampson moved to Colorado nearly two years ago, but flew back for the event. They were both wearing purple because Gerald is on the National Board of Alzheimer’s Association. Even his shoes were purple.

The proceeds from the evening will benefit the GDYO Scholarship Fund and the GDYO Tour Fund, allowing deserving students a chance to not only experience the GDYO Program, but to be further enriched by experiencing new cultures while traveling and preforming with their peers. Each year, young musicians in GDYO receive $20,000 in scholarships, and that number doubles in a tour year.

For more information:  www.gdyo.org

* Photo credit: Chuck Clark

MySweetCharity Opportunity: A Tasteful Place Gala

According to Dallas Arboretum’s A Tasteful Place Gala Co-Chairs Barbara Bigham and Robin Carreker,

Barbara Bigham (File photo)

Robin Carreker (File photo)

We are thrilled to serve as chairs of the opening of A Tasteful Place, the Dallas Arboretum’s newest garden focused solely on all things food. Called “A Gala Garden Party,” we’re organizing one of the most exquisite events to open A Tasteful Place. Mark your calendars for Sunday, October 15, from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. We’ll enjoy cocktails, garden tours, a delectable dinner, dessert and some fun surprises that you’ll just have to wait to experience that evening! Our fabulous honorary chairs are the lovely Diane and Hal Brierley.

Of course, attire is “garden gorgeous.” If you’re interested in joining us, tickets start at $500, and you can contact Sarah Warnecke, [email protected], or leave a message at 214.515.6524.

A Tasteful Place*

About A Tasteful Place: Majestically placed overlooking White Rock Lake and downtown Dallas, A Tasteful Place is a verdant 3.5-acre garden woven in a beautiful tapestry of ornamentally displayed fresh fruit, vegetables, herbs and flowers with a lagoon. Located at the Dallas Arboretum, A Tasteful Place is the first of its kind in the Metroplex and will fill a much-needed void in the community. The garden was developed as a living, learning, growing experience that will help guide us toward understanding how to prepare foods and eat more healthily. Plus, it’s just a fabulous place to have a party!

* Graphic provided by the Dallas Arboretum

TACA Lexus Party On The Green Felt Right At Home In Its New Sammons Park Setting With Performers, Ice Carvings And Chefs Galore

Like a family realizing that perhaps they need to expand their residence, TACA organizers had determined that, as part of its year-long, 50th anniversary celebration, the annual  TACA Lexus Party On The Green needed a change. So, after years at the Rosewood Mansion on Turtle Creek, they moved the outdoor fundraiser to Sammons Park in the AT&T Performing Arts District on Friday, May 12. It was nothing against the Mansion. After all, they were going to have the 50th Anniversary Gala at the Mansion on Friday, September 8.

With both the Artscape Award and Auction Dinner at the Arboretum and the Party On The Green taking place outdoors on the same night, Mother Nature was in a kindly state of mind and provided spectacular weather.

Tia Wynne, Dean Fearing and Wanda Gierhart

Katherine Wynne

POG Co-Chairs Katherine Wynne and Tia Wynne had orchestrated a beautiful setting with a backdrop of the very green grass shaded by grown-up trees. Giant lit white balloons hovered over each of the tented chef’s stations. Tabletops were gowned in TACA green and chairs wrapped with pashminas (some salmon-colored, others turquoise, still others emerald-green). An artist with a power saw sprayed ice chips as he carved “50” into two massive blocks of ice on a mini-stage. A ginormous lit balloon with Lexus TACA Party On the Green floated on the reflecting pool. Adirondack chairs were perfectly positioned on the lawn, with flawless views of the action in the pool.  

2017 Lexus TACA Party On the Green

Ice carver

Dawn Spalding

Dancers in reflecting pool

Of course, like any move to new surroundings, there were the expected “oops.” For instance, the PA seemed at times loud enough to be heard in Deep Ellum. Pleasant conversations required ramping up the vocal chords to compete with the myriad of announcements and actors and musicians.

At times, there seemed to be an overly aggressive push for the performing arts. While the dance in the pond was indeed captivating, the theatrical production on stage with Booker T. Washington as a backdrop was a smash … for those within eyesight. For those grazing near the Meyerson, it was a jumble of verbal clutter, just as it was at the last Silver Cup Luncheon.

Michael and Amy Meadows and Charmaine and George Tang

Hal and Diane Brierley

Chris Heinbaugh and Nannette and Tracy Fitz

Alex Laurenzi and Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi, David Tripplehorn-Cash and Merrick and Stuart Huckin

Even those little snafus couldn’t hold back the 700 or so art-loving guests, like Amy and Michael Meadows, Charmaine and George Tang, TACA President/Executive Director Wolford McCue with wife Cheryl McCue, Diane and Hal Brierley, Ron Corning, Chris Heinbaugh, Nannette and Tracy Fitz, Simona Beal with her posse (Ed and Henny Wright, Bob Gibbs and Matthew Wilson), WaterTower’s Greg Patterson and Joanie Schultz, Lisa and Bill Ogle, Doris and Jack Jacobs, Dawn Spalding, Dean Driver, Holly Reed, Susan Arledge, Marsha Getto-Aikens, Rachel and John Michell, Elizabeth Tripplehorn-Laurenzi and Alex Laurenzi, David Tripplehorn-Cash, Merrick and Stuart Huckin, Paige McDaniel with Joe B Clark and Leslie Crozier

Ed and Henny Wright, Bob Gibbs, Simona Beal and Matthew Wilson

Greg Patterson and Joanie Schultz

Paige McDaniel and Joe B Clark

Lisa and Bill Ogle

Susan Arledge and Marsha Getto-Aikens

Snapshots of the scene included Mark Edgar giving a thumb’s-up for Chelsea Corner Chef Sara Griffin’s Road House Burger with truffle fries, which was getting a major top rating from many. Sara’s secret? She uses three types of meat… Rosewood Mansion’s Chef Nicolas Blouin‘s chocolate bar was a confectionary feast for the eyes and taste buds. Earlier in the day, Nicolas had been the one bright spot in a not-so-favorable review of the Mansion by the Dallas Morning News foodie Leslie Brenner…. Parigi Chef Janice Provost on her first outing at the POG decked out her tent with roses and cups set in faux grass filled with savory basil panna cotta with baby tomatoes and pesto… Sissy’s Chef Lisa Garza-Selcer was a bit frazzled during the VIP party, due to her late arrival. When asked how her baby was doing, the brunette replied, “I don’t know.” … Salum Chef Sader Matheis was subbing in for Chef Abraham Salum, who was in Lebanon with his father… Knife Chef John Tesar was all smiles over the sales of his new book, “Knife: Texas Steakhouse Meals at Home.” A recent signing at the Highland Dallas Hotel had drawn 200, John explained, and he was excited about expanding his Knife empire to Plano, San Francisco, and Denver…. Equally happy was Chef Dean Fearing with fiancée Wanda Gierhart, who is chairing TACA’s 50th anniversary, year-long celebration…  Laura Elcock reported that, earlier in the day, she’d had lunch with an old artist friend, who presented her with a portrait of Laura’s and husband Walter’s daughter… Michelle de Metz turned heads as she strolled past the tents with her leashed pooch.  

Nicolas Blouin

Nicolas Blouin dish

Lisa Garza-Selcer

John Tesar

Janice Provost

Janice Provost dish

Laura and Walter Elcock

Michelle de Metz

For more photos of the faces and food, check out MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

Under A Bright Sun, The Star Shone With Great Taste, Cowboys, Chefs And North Texas Food Bank Fans

After the ups and downs of weather days combining cashmere shawls with Daisy Dukes, Sunday, May 7, was bright, shiny and in the 80s. It was especially shiny at the Dallas Cowboys’ Ford Center at The Star in Frisco, where the North Texas Food Bank’s fundraiser, Taste of the Cowboys, was preparing for 1,000 guests. Presenting sponsor for the event was Caliber Collision.

There had been changes from the past. It was no longer called Taste of the NFL. It was no longer at AT&T Stadium. It was no longer led by he-who-used-to-be-known-as Kent Rathbun, although there was a chap non-cooking on the premises with his family (wife/restaurateur Tracy Rathbun, son Max Rathbun and daughter Garrett Rathbun).

Garrett Rathbun,, Max Rathbun and Kent and Tracy Rathbun

While the Star’s mini-Jerry World is still a project in progress, there was some confusion about where to park and check in. VIPs like Susan and John Farris, Larry James of  CitySquare, current Dallas Cowboys center Travis Frederick, and former Cowboys star Preston Pearson were to enter for a 5 p.m. start, but evidently some general-admission early birds nestled in a line before their 6 p.m. official get in.

John and Susan Farris

Preston Pearson and Larry James

As signage directed all to general parking a block or so away, smart VIP-ers headed around the corner to the valet check-in. Once on foot, though, the confusion continued. Folks lined up 10 deep to check in, only to finally learn: “Oh, you’re supposed to go outside and the lady there will direct you.” Alas, there was no woman there, so humbled VIP-ers wandered down the walkway like children lost at the State Fair. Soon they discovered an outdoor mini-stadium field surrounded by food stations and topped with a stage with bands performing (the headliner set for 8:30 p.m. was to be Reckless Kelly).

Taste of the Cowboys stage

The good news was that, despite the lack of signage directions, the in-the-flesh NTFB staffers were more than willing to help get things straightened out.

Once inside the air-conditioned lobby between the indoor and outdoor playing fields, there were a Mirmir Photo Booth, a Kendra Scott set-up, and a number of silent auction items.

Dunia Borgia

Aaron Hardwick and Tina Um

Chris Memme

Outside, there sure wasn’t any A/C. But there were a heck of a lot of local chefs cooking up a storm. Dunia Borgia of La Duni Baking Studio had replaced her frozen treats (at last year’s event) with sweet empanadas; Tina Um and Aaron Hardwick were showing off their General Tsao’s Chicken from Howard Wang’s China Grill; and BIRD Bakery proprietor Elizabeth Chambers Hammer, famed for her cookies, cupcakes, and mini-cupcakes, was enjoying the afternoon with Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch. Other eateries represented included Mi Cocina, Seasons 52, Off the Bone Barbeque, and The Common Table. 

Jamie Poper, Jill Bailey, Taylor Wencis and Ben Austin

Blythe Beck

Craig Walter

Julie Bowsher and Mary Welch

SPCA Of Texas’ Paws Cause “Fetches” $115,000 To Benefit Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter And Wellness Clinic At Village Fair And The South Dallas Initiative

Perhaps more than ever, the need for spay and neuter has been moved to the top of the list of longtime solutions for the area glut of stray animals. With such city officials as Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, City Councilperson Monica Alonzo and Dallas City Attorney Faith Johnson in attendance to drive the point home, the SPCA Of Texas‘ Annual Paws Cause — “Pawsitively Dallas Strong” — at the Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center on Sunday, January 29, took on an added importance in fundraising for the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and the South Dallas Pet Initiative. The result was netting $115,000 for the program. Here is a report from the field:

Monica R. Alonzo*

Faith Johnson*

On Sunday, January 29, the SPCA of Texas’ Paws Cause, “Pawsitively Dallas Strong,” at the SPCA of Texas’ Jan Rees-Jones Animal Care Center saw more than 300 animal lovers come together to benefit the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and the South Dallas Pet Initiative. The event attendees were welcomed with a purple search light, a purple carpet, dancing dog and cat mascots and actual dogs and cats galore.

2017 Paws Cause’s “Pawsitively Dallas Strong”*

Inside, guests enjoyed gourmet food from some of Dallas’ finest chefs, imbibed luscious libations–including the “Pawsitive Delight” signature drink, danced the night away to musical entertainment by Goga, took part in the Bone Appetite restaurant drawing and had their pictures snapped at the Flipbook photo booth. A raffle of high-end items tempted attendees with fine art, photography packages, pet care products, designer purses, fine jewelry and more. A highly successful live auction and Pony Up for Paws fundraiser completed the night.

Haute cuisine stations from several of the Metroplex’s best restaurants, including Salum, Parigi, Pink Magnolia, Cane Rosso, Whistle Britches and 3015 at Trinity Groves tempted guests with everything from  sumptuous savories to decadent desserts.

Paws Cause 2017 was a tail-wagging success thanks to 2017 Paws Cause Honorary Chair  Andrea Alcorn, and the Steering Committee, which included: Jane Arrington, Steve Atkinson, Rebecca Belew, Diane Brierley, Andie Comini, Phyllis Comu, Giana DePaul, Gwen Echols, Kristen Greenberg, Whitney Keltch, Christina Miller, Pam Ragon, Abraham Salum, Gloria Snead, Karen Urie and Cathy Zigrossi

At the pinnacle of the party, Mayor Mike Rawlings first addressed the crowd saying, “The spay and neuter initiative that the SPCA is taking on is the lynchpin of the plan…to solve the situation in South Dallas that is hurting neighborhoods. We’ve got tens of thousands of dogs that need to have this operation and I believe that when we do that we will not only make the lives of those dogs better, but the lives of the neighbors and the strength of Dallas will come with it.”

Andrea Alcorn and Karen Urie*

Then, SPCA of Texas Senior Vice President Debra Burns, Karen Urie, Andrea Alcorn, SPCA of Texas President/CEO James Bias and SPCA of Texas Board Chair Katy Murray took turns thanking the guests and encouraging them to give. Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson spoke in support of the partnership between the Dallas County District Attorney’s Office’s Animal Cruelty Unit and the SPCA of Texas.

The event netted $115,000 for the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and the SPCA of Texas’ South Dallas Pet Initiative.

All proceeds from the Paws Cause event benefit the Mary Spencer Spay/Neuter and Wellness Clinic at Village Fair and fund spay and neuter efforts in the Dallas community. This includes the SPCA of Texas’ programs that aim to support the pets and people of South Dallas to help address the serious stray animal, pet homelessness and pet overpopulation issues, also supporting the preservation of the bond between pets and people and keeping pets and the community healthy and safe.

Angela Thompson, Mary Spencer and Ann Marcus*

James Bias and Jan Rees-Jones*

Attendees also included Dallas Mayor Pro Tem Monica Alonzo, Jan and Trevor Rees-Jones, Bobbi Snyder, Stacey and Arnie Verbeek, Bob Minyard, Angela Thompson, Candace Rubin, Ann Marcus, Hal Brierley, Leldon Echols, Marsha Pendleton-Gray and Dr. Richard Gray, Mary and Skip Trimble, Stacey and Don Kivowitz, Mary Spencer, Betsy Orton and Sharon Fancher, Mike and Catherine Merritt and Claire and Kurt Schwarz.

Event sponsors included:

  • Diamond Sponsors: Andrea Alcorn, Friedman & Feiger LLP and Dr. Richard Gray and Marsha Pendleton Gray
  • Gold Sponsors: Diane and Hal Brierley, the Durham Family Foundation, Forty Five Ten, Gwen and Leldon Echols, In Memory of Guy T. Marcus, Trinity Industries Inc. and Patricia Villareal and Tom Leatherbury
  • Silver Sponsors: Ralph Lauren – Highland Park and Skip and Mary L. Trimble
  • Copper Sponsors: Sharon Devereux, Stacey and Don Kivowitz, Katy Murray, Ray and Patricia A. Smerge, Pam Ragon, Redfin Real Estate, Claire and Kurt Schwarz and Sandra Urie and Frank Herron
  • Bronze Sponsors: MaryLynn M. Black, Karen and Phil Drayer, Cassie Evans and Hattie Pearl Decker, Hillary Hurst and Mark Schwarz, Bobby Minyard, Carol Orr, Penny Rivenbark Patton, Lucilo A. Pena, Candace Rubin, Mary Spencer, Susie Swanson, Chad West and Mr. and Mrs. David Yost.
* Photo credit: Thomas Garza Photography

2017 Great Adventure Hunt Provided Brainbusting Puzzles Throughout The Perot From Mother Goose To Fencing For ChildCareGroup

While the black-tie-optional Catholic Charities group was filling the Omni’s Dallas Ballroom on Saturday, January 28, nearly 320 more casual types were on the other side of downtown Dallas at the Perot Museum.

Tori Mannes and Bart Showalter

Joe Mannes and Michael Newman

The occasion was the Great Adventure Hunt benefiting ChidCareGroup and chaired by Erin Nealy Cox and Trey Cox and Nicole and Justin Small and presented by
Data Alliance
. According to CCG President/CEO Tori Mannes, last year’s GAH wizard-behind-the-scenes/journalist Tom Shroder had begged off  this year, due to his writing two books. To seek a replacement puzzle strategist, Tori killed two birds with one stone. She asked past champ team members John Harris, Joe Mannes, Tom Nynas, Kemp Sawers and Elizabeth and Bart Showalter to create the puzzles for the night. Not only did she come up with some real insiders creating the evening’s challenges, she also allowed for a new team to score the top prize.

Wendy Moore Oglesby,, Peggy Allison, Edward Oglesby Gladys Kolenovsky and Lyda Hill

Rena Pederson

One of those vying for the trophy was the infamous Lyda Hill team (Peggy Allison, Gladys Kolenovsky, Wendy Moore Oglesby, Edward Oglesby and Rena Pederson), whose captain, Lyda, has played in every GAH except the very first one. In preparation for the evening, Lyda reported her team had met twice to strategize and to allow each of their strengths to shine. Lyda recalled that her team had won the competition “several times in a row, but not recently. We have to let others win!” she joked.

When asked about her upcoming Linz Award, Lyda admitted that she was truly taken by surprise. She was told about the honor over the phone while she was driving, and was caught totally speechless.

Doug Murray

On another subject, Lyda was asked why time and time again people think her middle name is “Hunt.” While her brother (Al Galatyn Hill Jr.) and sister (Alinda Hunt Hill Wikert) both have middle names, Lyda doesn’t. But she recalled that years ago, everyone was into monogramming. Since a great monogram had three letters, young Lyda gave herself a temporary “H” to fill the bill.

While the cocktail reception carried on in the Lyda Hill Gems and Minerals Hall on the third level, production coordinator Doug Murray was preparing the acoustics for the dinner on the first level. Some guests didn’t recognize Doug. The reason? He’s lost 50 pounds—going from a 17 1/2 shirt-neck size to a 15 1/2—by exercising and eliminating soft drinks and breads from his diet. However, he admitted that on Sundays he may cheat and have a pizza. His goal is to lose 15 more pounds.

Fencing*

As for the competition, the puzzlemasters proved their worth.The very first challenge took place at the dinner tables with a round of Bingo, Then they were off and running with “puzzles featuring unique items such as edible clues, Mother Goose, a fencing match, ‘The Hokey Pokey’ and Twister. Some team solved the puzzles with ease, and other chose to receive extra hints.”

Tori Mannes, John Matthews, Kat Kunze, Suzanne Smith, Ben Mackey, Melanie Ferguson and Evgeniy Gentchev*

After the final team “crossed the finish line” and made it back to their tables for dessert and the results, it was team Matthews Southwest (John Matthews, Kat Kunze, Suzanne Smith, Ben Mackey, Melanie Ferguson and Evgeniy Gentchev) that not only took home the prize but also proved to have the distance in their effort. Boss John Matthews had flown in from Canada just to participate in the Hunt.

Other winners included the following:

From the left: (back row) Kathy Touchstone, Jenny Murphey and Jason Arneson; (front row) Kathryn Treece, Alyson Trout and Andrea English*

  • Second place — Kick-Off Party Sponsor Pegasus Bank and Bright and Bright LLP (Kathy Touchstone, Jenny Murphey, Jason Arneson, Kathryn Treece, Alyson Trout and Andrea English.
  • Third place — Meredith and Scott Wallace team
  • Rookie team — Meredith and Scott Wallace team
  • Best Team Name — Valet sponsor Roach Howard Smith and Barton for “Can’7 5OLV3 TH15”
* Photo provided by ChildCareGroup

 

A Lesson In Appreciation Made The Grade At Herbert Marcus Elementary School With Cookies, Pajamas And Paper

As adorable cuties and oldies sent wishes to Santa for Barbies, Birkin handbags, Anki Cozmo robots and DJI Phantom 4 Drones,  there were others whose want was much less.

On the afternoon of Wednesday, December 21, the Neiman Marcus marketing and public relations types like Mimi Sterling, Ginger Reeder, Sandy Marple, Wendy Segal, Kristin Fletcher and others set up homemade and Celebrity Bakery Christmas cookies that were pound gainers at first glance.

Holly Wallace, Kevin Hurst and Ginger Reeder

But the scene was not at some fancy-shmancy mansion in Preston Hollow or even in an NM couture salon. It was at Herbert Marcus Elementary School in northwest Dallas as a result of NM Director of Charitable Giving Kevin Hurst saying “Howdy do” to the school’s new Principal Holly Wallace earlier in the year. It made sense, since the school was the namesake of NM co-founder Herbert Marcus.

As parents escorted students and their school projects to their cars and crossing guards shielded students from afternoon traffic, the faculty gathered in the school library.

While it may have appeared to be an alcohol-fueled happy hour, not a drop of liquor was present. As today was pajama day for the staff, the teachers in footed jammies were the guests of honor for NM’s “Teacher Appreciation Party.” Thanks to a DJ in the back of the room and a sugar high, the usually quiet-as-a-mouse library had become a party room with laughter and smiles.

Midway through the celebration, Holly surprised all with the announcement that the school had been selected as one of four schools for the Momentous Institute’s program. Instead of just a few of the teachers attending the program, the entire group would participate. The news was greeted by the teachers with the delight usually only seen when a youngster’s can’t-possibly-happen Christmas wish is granted. Holly admitted that she had been on her phone all day locking down the details, so she could break the news at the party.   

Herbert Marcus Elementary School and Neiman Marcus staffs

In addition to the cookies and partying, Holly reported that the NM crew had also provided individual gifts for each of the faculty members.

And then, as if in passing, Holly pointed to a half wall of white innocuous boxes in one part of the room. With the NM team standing on the side, Holly announced that each box contained reams of paper and that each teacher would receive a box for his/her classroom.

The room exploded in excitement as the teachers cheered in delight, throwing their arms up in appreciation. The joy and surprise were so great and genuine that it amazed the NM-ers.

So, while others celebrated receiving high-tech toys, flat-screen TVs and luxury handbags and dining at world-class restaurants, an elementary school’s faculty was over-the-top for an afternoon of appreciation and boxes of plain paper.

Even Rainy Weather Couldn’t Take The Bounce Out Of Community Partners Of Dallas’ 10th Annual Change Is Good

North Texas is the Super Bowl for meteorologists and event planners. With all of Mama Nature’s children (northers rolling down from the Rockies, Arctic chills coming down the Midwest corridor, moist winds from the Gulf Coast and Canadian blowhards), the North Texas region is a mix master of weather.

That’s why Sunday, September 25, put the area activities to the test as wet weather, threats of thunder and promises of cooler weather hit.

The Plano Balloon Festival smartly cancelled early, but the Community Partners of Dallas had the Change Is Good prepared for whatever. And whatever was put to the test.

Mason Park and Beth and Larence Park

Mason Park and Beth and Larence Park

As the doors opened for the 10th Annual Change is Good at Brook Hollow, the weather looked promising for the event to be outdoor/indoor. Still the bungee cord jump stayed still, while the outdoor bounce house and inflated obstacle course had short ones lined up. Toddler Mason Park decided to take a pass on the obstacle course and stayed in the arms of his grandparents/Honorary Co-Chairs Beth and Larence Park.

Inflatable obstacle course

Inflatable obstacle course

Inside the smell of popcorn filled the Verandah, while palm readers got handy and Rad Hatter created millinery masterpieces.

DJ Bill Cody

DJ Bill Cody

Rad Hatter

Rad Hatter

Fortune teller

Fortune teller

In the ballroom, DJ Bill Cody had both kiddos and adults dancing underneath a netted gathering of balloons. At one side of the room was a balloon creation of “10”.

In addition to the “10,” there were families who have been sponsors since its beginning including Shonn and Clarence Brown, Jessica and Jeff Burrow, Sally and George Dutter, Elizabeth and Eric Gambrell, Heather and Malcolm Hicks, Christie and Chris Linebarger, Francie and Steve Mancillas, Emily and Todd Massey, Christina and Tim Norris, Katherine Reeves and Jody and Grant Swartzwelder.

Alas, Elizabeth Gambrell feared that this one just might be her swan song for Change Is Good. Her older two kids had outgrown the event and her baby girl Sarah Rose Gambrell was starting to look like one of the oldies despite the painted face.

Sarah Rose Gambrell and Elizabeth Gambrell

Sarah Rose Gambrell and Elizabeth Gambrell

Jack Landon and Chris Landon

Jack Landon and Chris Landon

On the other hand, those with toddlers found it easier to get around with child in arm like Lindsay and Chris Landon with one-year-old Jack Landon.

Across the room was the near-to-the-ceiling bounce house. At one point there was a group gasp as the house seemed to be tilting on its side. But the kids who were old hands at bounce houses shifted to the other side and all was right.

Still as usual the ultimate popular, line ‘em up was the face painting in the ballroom. Okay, so some fellas like William Spence weren’t so keen about the cosmetic fru-fru. But others like Co-Chair Caroline Ballotta looked right at home with her painted face and Rad Hatter. Brother William Ballotta was one of the little ones who initially was a bit overwhelmed by all the commotion.

Ray Ballotta, William Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta and Lindsay Ballotta

Ray Ballotta, William Ballotta, Caroline Ballotta and Lindsay Ballotta

An hour into the festivities, the feared rain that had hit the rest of the area found Brook Hollow. And despite the overload of kids, parents and grandparents, nobody really seemed to mind. Thought one single-child parent admitted that she was grateful just to have one kidlet.

Energized by the sugary delights of Book Hollow, the kids were in overdrive. In the ballroom where debutante parties had properly taken place and the ever-so-civilized Sweetheart Ball had raised funds, the too-young-to-have-drivers-license set scampered, danced and partied.

Lisa Catravas, Aiden Catravas and Jimmie Catravas

Lisa Catravas, Aiden Catravas and Jimmie Catravas

Shelly Slater, Hutcheson Huffstutter, Hawkins Huffstutter and Clay Huffstutter

Shelly Slater, Hutcheson Huffstutter, Hawkins Huffstutter and Clay Huffstutter

Snapshots: Aiden Catravas with a white streak in his brown hair broke from the herd and dined on carrots and veggies… While juggling her two sons Hawkins Huffstutter and Hutcheson Huffstuffer with husband Clay Huffstutter, Shelly Slater reported that she was still doing parttime work for WFAA as well as advising nonprofits and organizations. But, no, rumors that she was doing PR were so very wrong… Poor Spider Man. Upon seeing the comic superhero, two tykes burst into tears. Hey, it’s rough to be a rejected comic strip hero.

Despite the super-duper sugar high, the party wound down and just as the end came, the net holding the green and white balloons was let loose with balloons falling on the waiting guests.

BTW, the final count for the kids’ collection of change? How about a whopping 87,582 coins adding up to $19,617.55! That means that in its 10 years, 922,526 coins have been turned in resulting in $147,830 for Community Partners of Dallas. What is done with money? It goes to buying supplies, toys and clothes for children who are removed from neglectful and harmful situations.

But Change Is Good does even more than support the Community Partners of Dallas mission. It also is an opportunity for youngsters to learn about fundraising. This year’s efforts resulted in awards being given out including:

  • Most online — Harper Hinds and Haven Hinds ($1,195)
  • Most quarters — Brooke Gray, Cate Gray and Caroline Gray (1,383 quarters)
  • Most change collected —
    • 1st place — Harper Hinds and Haven Hinds ($1,598.01)
    • 2nd place — Brooke Gray, Cate Gray and Caroline Gray ($1,033.63)
    • 3rd place — Sydney Bonfield and Lola Bonfield ($953.25)

For more photos, head over to MySweetCharity Photo Gallery.

24th Annual Cabaret Gala To Take Place In “Refreshed” Venetian Room On Texas-OU Saturday With Songbird Maxine Linehan

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

Marisa Huckin (File photo)

You’ve got to hand it to the Dallas Children’s Theater team. Over the past 24 years, their Cabaret Gala has collided with Cattle Baron’s on the same night. But this year the stars were literally in alignment for folks to attend both totally different fundraisers. Unlike the boot-wearing guests at Cattle Barons at Gilley’s, the Cabaret folks don their nicest cocktail attire for an intimate evening in The Fairmont’s Venetian Room, which has gone through some major “refreshing.”

 Maxine Linehan*

Maxine Linehan*

But the date this year may still surprise locals. It’s October 8th. Yup, that’s the Saturday of Texas-OU. While it may seem like a busy weekend to be holding a fundraiser, it makes perfect sense. By Saturday night, most of the Longhorns and Sooners have packed their bags and headed home, or they’re too pooped out to party anymore.

Dallas Children’s Theater’s Artie Olaisen and Event Co-Chair Marisa Huckin (this is her fourth one to chair) and Sharon Niebuhr have arranged for Irish transplant Maxine Linehan to be on the Venetian stage. Sure, she’s been described as “versatile, multi-talented and fiercely talented” and performed at NY’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center, 54 Below, The Metropolitan Room and Birdland. But Maxine’s also smart, having graduated from “the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Arts and also just happens to be a Barrister,” having studied at The Inns of Court School of Law in London.

Still another highlight will be the honorary chairs — “steadfast supporters” Jennifer and Peter Altabef and their “son Will, who literally grew up on-stage at DCT.”

In keeping with the annual raffle, Raffle Chair Kerrie Forbes has five trips lined up for such places as Cancun, Costa Rica, New York City, Telluride and St. Martin.

Since tickets are limited and won’t be sold at the door, hop to it now for an evening of champagne, dessert and delightful tunes.

* Photo provided by the Dallas 
Children's Theater