From first signs, Paws in the City’s Top Hat and Tails looked like it had turned tables on itself. It had built its reputation on having local celebs and corporate reps take to the dance floor with Arthur Murray professionals in a dance-off, like “Dancing With The Stars.” Why, they even managed to get outfits that had been worn on the ABC-TV show.
Last year the group decided that instead of holding the event in the summer, they would have it earlier in the year at the Frontiers of Flight Museum. They found an open date, a very open date. But when they booked it, they didn’t realize it was Easter eve. Despite being on the holiday weekend, the turnout was stellar and the dancing was fun, awkward and moneymaking.
Still, they realized that a change of date was in order and Saturday, May 30, was picked despite it being just days after Memorial Day and the usual summer evacuation.
But according to Top Hat and Tails Committee Member Martha Powell, “We just thought the [TV] show was kind of winding down a little bit. We thought it might be getting a little stale.” So they decided to do something different and instead hold an event where everyone could dance.
The answer was a “Love Me Tender” theme with Kraig Parker, who is “the best Elvis impersonator ever.” Kraig and Martha go way back, 15 or 16 years, when they were both working at Hunt. Kraig had been a graphic artist in corporate communications and Martha worked for Jim Oberwetter. Once word got out that Kraig was on board, at least four tables were purchased just because of him.
It was then decided that, since a huge dance stage wasn’t needed, they would move the event to the Westin Galleria Ballroom.
When it was learned that traditional emcee Scott Murray would be unavailable, DJ Roy Turner was called upon.
Still, something special was still needed to provide the “Wow!” factor to the mix. Thanks to Paws In The City Board of Directors President Mark Verma, that person was found and turned out to be a one-person rescue group. It turned out that Mark lives down the street from Cathryn Hartt, actress Morgan Fairchild’s sister. Mark’s timing was just right and on target. It seems that Morgan is a died-in-the-wool animal lover. After an exchange of emails, he had Morgan on board.
The moment blonde Morgan arrived at the Westin with red-haired Cathryn in black, she was greeted by a pooch. No sooner had she taken the escalator up to the ballroom floor than a dog howled the former TV vixen’s arrival. But the pooch wasn’t the only one panting over Morgan. No sooner had she arrived in the cocktail reception and silent auction area than she was surrounded, especially by the fellows. And Morgan didn’t disappoint. She talked to each and everyone, laughed at jokes, listened intently and posed for cellphones photos. The crush was so great that Morgan never got a chance to check out the silent auction.
As for the other guests, it was interesting to note representatives from the various animal organizations in the mix. Both SPCA’s James Bias and Dallas Animal Services’ Jody Jones made no bones about it. They were there to support the PITC organization and celebrate longtime Spay Neuter Network founder Bonnie Hill, who was to receive the 2015 St. Francis of Assisi Award.
Another one to come up to the stage for an award for Volunteer of the Year: Jennifer Johnson-Hayford.
But if they had given a Scene-Stealer Of The Night Award, it would have gone to Morgan. When the shout-out for funds seemed to stall, she stepped on to the dance floor with mic in hand and joined auctioneer George Riba to talk up the money. She pleaded (“Please bid up those auction items!”), teased (“Okay, who’s gonna fork over $1,000? Come on. I’ve seen some jewelry on these ladies tonight!”) and didn’t stop there. When Angela Lorente answered the call for a funding shout-out with a cool $1,000, she had Morgan by her side for a photo opp. Angela admitted, “Ive been following Paws In The City on Facebook. I do a lot with Operation Kindness, so I wanted to come see what [they] all are all about!”
When it came to the live auction, Andrews Distributing VP Jim Campbell won an evening with “Bernie”’s writer Skip Hollandsworth, screening “the movie at your home for you and your friends and [sharing] fascinating details about Bernie’s real life story and the making of the movie.” When asked about the $1,025 win, Jim replied that he was going to hold the screening at the home of his buddy Ty Gilmore in Prosper, only “he doesn’t know it yet.”
The final item was a 6-day stay in Carmel-by-the-Sea’s two-bedroom home plus a whale-watching boat tour, passes to the Monterey Bay Aquarium and all the kinds of things that animal lovers might want to do. It went to Greg Wolchansky for $2,500 as a gift for his soon-to-be-bride/cat lover Susan Gregory. Greg said how when he first met Susan, he really wasn’t a cat fancier. Susan admitted she knew he was a keeper when he asked her to move in …with her cats. To accommodate the felines, Greg had a room designed especially for the cats. His cat platforms were such a hit, it’s ended up as a business.
By 8:30, all the fundraising had ended and Kraig took to the stage for raising fun. He opened with “That’s All Right, Mama,” with guests dancing. As “Burnin’ Love” played, it was obvious that the plan was smart and the move from dancers on stage to dancers on the dance floor had worked out just fine.