REUNIONS ARE GOOD FOR THE SOUL; CHICAGO LIGHTHOUSE FLAIR FUNDRAISER; AFTER SCHOOL MATTERS GALA; FUN WITH DREESEN AND THE SEAMANS; EARLYBIRDS & BOOKWORMS; JOFFREY WOMEN'S BOARD LUNCHEON CELEBRATES WORLD PREMIERE; CHARLIE IS "PURE IMAGINATION" AT ORIENTAL THEATRE; "I VOTE BECAUSE..." CAMPAIGN BY SANDRO; ART ON THEMART; WGN RADIO'S STEVE COCHRAN SHOW; MELISSA ON 93.9 LITE FM; THE WINGS TO CURE GALA; YORK FURRIER IS GIVING BACK; VERNISSAGE OPENS EXPO CHICAGO; THE DARING MEN OF APOLLO 8; VIDEOS AND SO MUCH MORE!
The 3rd annual Haute Dog Chicago returned to the Peninsula on Thursday, Sept. 20 to benefit Canine Companions for Independence. The packed party spilled over onto the chic terrace to celebrate and raise funds for this noble cause--providing highly trained assistance dogs FREE
of charge to children, adults and veterans with disabilities. This doggie/human runway fashion show featured some of
Chicago's finest alongside their couture canines (or CCI puppies), modeling the latest fashions of the season. Runway participants included Natalie Bomke and Ed Swiderski, Lou Canellis, Rosemary Fanti, Asia Gajderowicz, Mary Lasky, Suzanne LeMignot, Peyton Pritikin, Whitney Reynolds, Katy Sandberg,
Brooke Skinner, Ravi and Sonya Baichwal, Renata Block, Krystyna Augustyniak, Kim Gleeson, David Gonsky, Tony Abruscato, Stacey Barsema, Rich Lyons, Tessa Payne and Lindsey Vecchione, among others. The event was expertly chaired by
Katie Cox Platis along with a host committee that included Renata and Bob Block, Angie DeMars, Phillip Emigh, Bruce Haas, Greg Hyder, Katy Sandberg, Mitchell Hatcher, Tracey Tarantino, Raymond Western, Lauren Warm and yours truly. I was honored to emcee my 3rd HDC and
see the return of Janie Meijas with her Companion Service Dog Haven. Janie demonstrated the importance of having a CCI dog in her life and how it has changed so much for the better because of him. She said, "I have an increased sense of security now that I have Haven...he is my Haven both figuratively and literally."
Fashions on the runway were provided by Alice + Olivia, Vince, Burdi and Contessa Bottega. Guests heard from Megan Koester, Canine Companions North Central Region who shared the nonprofit's mission and thanked the host committee and sponsors. We learned that a team like Janie and Haven is valued at $50,000 from the
breeding of each special dog through retirement. ZZAZZ Productions' Tracey Tarantino DiBuono produced the show and commentated on the chic fall fashions. A loaded silent auction featured beautiful items and
packages from Bulgari, CosMedic Clinic, Barton & Gray Mariners Club, Chicago Athletic Assoc., Henri Bendel, Lester Lampert, Gallery Victor Armendariz, EFP Opticians, MyEyeDr., BOKA
restaurant group, the Park Hyatt, the Field Museum, Waldorf Astoria, Salon Buzz, Rag & Bone and so much more. It was a wonderful evening of fashion and fundraising for CCI, a nonprofit that I'm proud to support. For more info, click here and I hope to see you next year! (Photos by Marcin Cymmer)
I highly recommend going back to your high school/college/kindergarten reunions (any reunion!) if you get the chance. It's a great way to reconnect with your roots and share stories that only longtime friends can know. This was my 3rd time at Dupo, Illinois' "No
Class Reunion", lovingly conceived and orchestrated by Marsha Bieber English, Rose Freppon Falana, Mary Todd LaMantia, Mindy Mernick, Sandy Dixon Thomas, Scharmayne Lanterman and Ken Phillips. It was another perfect
day in Southern Illinois...the sky was a Windex blue and there was a slight breeze (not boiling hot like last year) which was so pleasant. And besides, most of us look better in sweatshirts than clingy T's if I'm being perfectly "candid." Tables under the pavilion in Dupo Community Park had been staked out early, thanks to
dear friends Karen Weber LaCroix and her cute brother Paul Weber (class of '69) for making ours the BEST! Even down to the red and white checkered tablecloth, Karen had made this a true picnic with homemade snacks, beer and more
she'd brought from home. Someone had brought a yearbook and we all (including another dear friend Tommy Hundley) pored over it. Lots and lots of photos were taken, phone numbers were shared and promises made to reach out. It was idyllic and made me appreciate my small town upbringing even more. These friends are the salt of the earth--the ones who
helped mold my early years and who gave me a sense of right and wrong and what's truly important. As we grow older and move away, oftentimes, these values get lost in the noise but going home makes you realize how lucky you were and how
far you've come. It's life-affirming. The night before we had dinner in Columbia, Illinois with longtime, dear friends Carolyn (we were cheerleaders together) and Wade Teeter (we missed Rod Lavender who was home sick). Their home is so charming and chic, it should be in a magazine. The candlelight and the beautiful antiques they have collected over the years made the get-together so cozy
we didn't want to leave. But we were on a tight schedule as this same night was the kick-off party at Good Times, a local bar/restaurant/hangout in Dupo. When we arrived, the party was in full swing with two bands and a packed
house. I saw people I hadn't seen since high school and many looked almost exactly the same. More photos were taken, Budweisers drank and dancing ensued. Again, I didn't want to leave. Saturday night, Chuck and I got a chance to reconnect with family. My dear Aunt Lora Stott (who never ages!), cousins Cindy and Greg
Groce, Mark and Conan Stott joined us for dinner in Waterloo, where Lora lives. This town is just oozing with charm and beauty and has been listed on many "Best" lists about Illinois. The town square looks like something staged for a photo shoot and is the spot for the annual Pumpkinfest (happening this year on October 13 and HIGHLY recommended). We had dinner at Gallagher's,
a neat restaurant owned by the Gallagher family (John and Susie and their 5 sons). It is a study in recycling with the 1870s building being completely restored (by the family) with relics from the past--original railings from the 1908 McKinley Bridge, pocket doors from the Chase Park-Plaza Hotel in St. Louis and so much more. The polished mahogany bar is original and over 100 years old. The food is good too--they're known for their Sunday fried chicken (all you can eat) dinners! We discovered another cool spot that's only been open for 3
months, Sunset Overlook. Located at 11604 Bluff Road, this small wine and craft beer bar (with a limited menu) was created from a 100 year old farm house. Its tranquil rural setting offers sweeping views over cornfields and then the Mississippi River beyond. The "witching hour" is sunset when you can see jaw-dropping, beautiful sunsets. And, as always, we drove by my childhood home at 325 Louisa Ave., an annual pilgrimage so-to-speak. One day, I'm going to sneak a plaque with my name on it on the side. (Shhhh, our little secret). On our way home, we made a stop at Cahokia Mounds, the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico built in AD 1050-1200. By now, we had to head back home. The weather remained perfect so we kept the convertible top down as long as we could....the 5 hour drive flew by as I relived all the fun we'd had in my head. We're already planning our next trip that I'm hoping will include a visit to Maeystown , an historic German village built in 1852. And, despite being a tiny little town (only 168 occupants), it's loaded with charm. So much to see, so much to do.....
The Chicago Lighthouse hosted it's biggest FLAIR fashion show/fundraiser to date on Tuesday, October 2 at the Loews Hotel Chicago, expertly co-chaired by Sherrill Bodine and Sheree Schimmer Valukas. I was proud and thrilled to be this year's honoree following in the footsteps of past award winners Cheri Lawrence, Vonita Reescer, Kristina McGrath and Jamie Hague. The excitement had been
building up for me for months and, by the time the event came around, I was almost jumping out of my skin. I was so happy to see so many familiar faces in the crowd and on the runway like Linda Yu (who emceed), Whitney Lasky, Nina
Mariano, Paul Iacono, Michael Caputo, Raymond Western, Mark Olley, Jean Antoniou, Stacie McClane, Shauna Montgomery, Mary Lasky, Yvette Cusack, Lesley Goodman, Pam Capitanini, Leah Chavie, Julia Jacobs, Sharyl Mackey, Sherry Lea
Holson, Kathleen Henson, Kathy Piccone, Tina Weller, Eleni Bousis, Tony Abruscato, Sam Griffith, Maria Pappas, Greg Hyder, Holly Twardak, Paula Borg, Karen Peters, Sherry Abrahams, Mamie Walton, Lynda Silverman and soooooo many others! On the runway, there was something for everyone's taste from WearNYLA, Anne Fontaine, Contessa Bottega, Mira
Couture and Macy's. I thank Macy's personal stylist Debbi Porter for finding me two darling dresses and magnificent earrings--ALL reasonably priced! Dr. Janet Szlyk, president/CEO The Chicago Lighthouse, explained the nonprofit's life-changing mission. The
FLAIR event raised funds for children's and teen's programs at the Lighthouse, helping children and adolescents who may be blind, visually impaired or disabled meet developmental and educational
milestones, build supportive relationships and to fully participate in their communities. The Lighthouse also has a preschool for children who are ages 3 to 5 who are blind or visually impaired who are blended into the same
classroom as at-risk children, so they all learn and grow together. A touching video presentation showed the support the Lighthouse gives and has given to mother Nelly Gamino her son Alex who is in the organization's Summer in the City Program. Special events planner Kevin Sullivan conducted a fund-a-need dressed as Santa! ZZAZZ Production's Tracey Tarantino
produced and commentated the fashion show that presented the latest fall fashions. I never wanted to leave...so I gathered up a bunch of friends and the celebration continued at RL Restaurant where, thanks to Anna Finnegan and Kathy Piccone, we had several well placed tables in the fireplace room. This Hood/Swift
Woman with FLAIR Award is such an honor, not only because of my love and support for the Lighthouse, but because it represents my support of so many other charities in and around town too. I feel very, very blessed to be doing something I love that brings awareness to those in need. Thank you from the bottom of my heart to the Lighthouse and to Chuck. Without him, none of this would ever happen. (Photos by MILA SAMOKHINA)
Nearly 800 civic, corporate and community leaders attended the After School Matters (ASM) annual Gala on September 24 at the Wintrust Arena to celebrate a banner year of successfully providing after-school and summer programs for Chicago teenagers. This year, ASM reached more than 18,000 Chicago teenagers who participated in the
organization’s programs, which encourage youth to explore and develop their talents while gaining critical skills for work, college and beyond. The gala was presented by Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois and hosted by AFM's
Board of Directors. Honorary chairs included Mayor Emanuel and First Lady Amy Rule, and The Honorable Richard M. Daley. In honor of the annual Gala, the Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois headquarters skyscraper on Randolph Street was lit up to display “AFTER SCHOOL MATTERS” during the
event in a show of support for the organization and its mission. “Nights like tonight are a testament to what we can accomplish when we come together to provide Chicago teens with an opportunity to succeed and fulfill their dreams,” said Mellody Hobson, ASM board chair. “After
another record-breaking year of teen participation for After School Matters, the funds raised tonight will give us the ability to make an even bigger impact on the lives of Chicago youth.” The evening’s performances, centered on the theme of “It Takes A City,” highlighted an alumni soloist, Deonte Baker, who appeared on
the last season of “American Idol.” A gallery showcased the work of teens that participated in ASM programs this summer through hands-on exhibits and displays in music, drawing, painting, glassworks, photography, multimedia digital
arts, printmaking and jewelry-making, as well as interactive displays showcasing skills in sustainable energy technology, urban agriculture and sports instruction. All visual art pieces displayed at the event were available for purchase; unsold pieces and additional teen artwork is available for purchase at the
After School Matters Gift Shop, located at 66 E. Randolph. (I love this place and suggest taking a look for your holiday gift needs!) All proceeds supported ASM programming. “The After School Matters community comes together each September to celebrate the
remarkable work our teens have accomplished throughout the past year—developing new talents, building relationships and discovering their passions,” said Mary Ellen Caron, ASM CEO. “With thousands of teens from all corners of this city comes a devoted community of parents, community leaders, elected officials, instructors, volunteers and supporters of our mission. Together, we are showing Chicago youth how much they matter - not just for their futures but for who they are today.”
Philanthropists and all-around cute couple, Charlene and Scott Seaman, hosted an intimate gathering at the Ritz-Carlton on September 15 that featured a performance by renowned funny man and friend-to-all Tom Dreesen. The couple and Dreesen have been friends for years and the
guests enjoyed a meet-and-greet with Tom and a side-splitting romp through his very big life with the legendary Frank Sinatra. It wasn't a fundraiser, it was just a thoughtful gesture by the Seamans and Dreesen to bring some sunshine into the lives of their friends who attended and included Eleni and Jimmy Bousis, Vonita Reescer, Kristine Farra, April Schwartz, Paul Iacono, Mila and Arthur Samokhina, Elda de la Rosa and Jennifer Sutton, among others. DEEEE-lightful!
Earlybirds & Bookworms is a Chicago tradition started some years ago by the late/great Bunky Cushing. The fundraiser was revived by the Service Club of Chicago on September 18 at RL Restaurant in remembrance of Bunky's philanthropic work. Co-chaired by Paula Borg and Melissa
Babcock, the event featured a wonderful breakfast followed by a talk and book-signing by author Marc Sievers. The festivities began the evening before at Marc's gorgeous pied-a-terre. There, he treated members of the event’s host committee to an exclusive fete which included a pop-up salon from the House of Bulgari, and tempting food pairings from Vosges Chocolates, Urbani Truffles, Ca’del Bosco Wines and Calvisius Caviar. Toni
Valentino gave a surprise performance and Marc, author of the cookbook Table for Two and Entertaining with Love, shared his insights on "earthy & elegant” entertaining. Guests received signed books, and a fabulous gift bag. The next morning, RL closed their doors for a private breakfast for 60 guests. The event began with a mimosas followed by a
bountiful breakfast. Service Club President Tracey DiBuono welcomed the crowd. “This is a wonderful new event for us, continuing in the great footsteps of our beloved Bunky,” stated DiBuono. She introduced event co-chair Borg, who thanked the host committee, the RL team including GM Anna
Finnegan and all the members and friends whose support was instrumental in the success of the event. Sherry Lea Holson and Myra Reilly gave a touching tribute to Bunky, toasting him with “Bunky’s Cookies.” Sievers was interviewed by “The Breakfast Queen” herself Ina Pinkney
of the Chicago Tribune. Ina was the perfect moderator and Marc the perfect subject as they engaged the audience with their scintillating tales of cooking and entertaining and then hosted a lively Q & A. At the conclusion, Marc signed copies of both of his books for one and all. This new event for the Service Club raised over $10,000.00 with guests already excitedly discussing plans for next year!
The Women's Board of The Joffrey Ballet hosted a luncheon celebrating the upcoming world premiere of Yuri Possokhov’s Anna Karenina debuting in February 2019. Co-chaired by WB members Melissa Trandel and Chrissie Walker, the event was held at
the Drake Hotel with more than 350 guests in attendance. A reception offered a glimpse of select costumes from the newest Joffrey Ballet that will be used in its world premiere this winter. After the reception, guests filed into the Gold Coast Ballroom where table top centerpieces, designed by Debi Lilly, evoked the elegance of the
ball featured in the Anna Karenina production. Following the lunch, an intimate panel conversation was held between longtime Joffrey supporter Mary B. Galvin, artistic director Ashley Wheater and the Anna Karenina
artistic team and company artists, including Victoria Jaiani and Alberto Velazquez, as well as renowned choreographer, Yuri Possokhov. The conversation explored the process of creating a groundbreaking new work five months before its world
premiere. Guests participated in a raffle with prizes including $500 Neiman Marcus gift cards, earrings from Holtzmann’s Jewelers, as well as other Joffrey
experiences. All guests who donated $250 or more to the Women’s Board Nutcracker Costume Maintenance Initiative received a commemorative pointe shoe signed by one of the company artists as a token of gratitude. (For info on the upcoming Christopher Wheeldon's "Swan Lake" (starting October 17 thru 28), click here!) (Photos by David Loeb)
For those of us who still believe in magic, put the musical "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" on your must-see list. Last week's opening at the Oriental Theatre in Chicago was packed with kids and adults, who like me who were anxious to escape reality for a while. During the 2 1/2 hour musical based on the fabulous book by Roald Dahl, I didn't notice one kid squirming in their seat. As a matter of fact, the little boy behind me was completely engaged and making the most adorable comments to his mom. Like "that's awful" when the Veruca Salt character is torn to shreds by the giant squirrels (fabulous visuals here!) and oohing and ahhing over the magical stage designs, as were the rest of us. The production includes direction by 3-time Tony Award winner Jack O'Brien, music by Grammy, Tony and Emmy Award winner Marc Shaiman, lyrics by Grammy and Tony Award winners Scott Wittman and Shaiman, a book by artistic director of Edinburgh's Royal Lyceum theatre David Greig, choreography by Tony Award nominee and Emmy Award winner Joshua Bergasse and iconic songs by Leslie Bricusse and Anthony Newley from the 1971 Warner Bros. motion picture. The hit Broadway musical features songs from the original film, including "Pure Imagination", "The Candy Man", and "I've Got a Golden Ticket", alongside original music by the songwriters from Hairspray. The cast was outstanding and each perfect for the characters they portrayed but little Charlie Bucket, played by Henry Boshart, was a standout. The joyous production had people buzzing well out the doors and into the streets following the uplifting, visually appealing, toe-tapping musical that will delight both the young and young at heart. I don't want to give any of the surprises away, but trust me, there are a LOT--each more magical than the last, leading up to a brilliant high-flying finale! Presented by Broadway in Chicago at the Oriental Theatre, 24 W. Randolph, for a limited engagement through October 21. For tickets and more info, click here!
Special thanks to David Sanchez (10 MGMT) and photog extraordinaire Sandro (Miller) for including me in the "I Vote Because..." campaign, a non-partisan effort to get everyone to vote. I was honored to be included with David, Brandon Frein, Whitney Middleton, Drew Connor (Chicago Fire soccer player) and so many others! Although I'm not a fan of "portraiture", the campaign is sincere--coming soon!
We attended Morris Gearring's one man show recently at the Greenhouse Theater. "Sammy, Harry, Oscar, a little Nikki and Me!" is a celebration of the life, music and poetry of Sammy Davis Jr., Harry Belafonte, Oscar Brown Jr. and Nikki Giovanni. Morris, who's been performing since he was a child, killed it with his big voice and even bigger heart. He
invited the audience to experience every emotion along with him during the 1 1/2 hour set (with intermission) that displayed his wide ranging talent, both as a singer and as an actor. His trio backed him up beautifully with personalities that matched his own to create an atmosphere that is hard to find these days. He brought us back to a kinder, gentler time. And, although the trial run is over, watch for the polished version coming soon from Churchill Productions.
How lucky is Chicago to have the world's largest permanent digital art projection in the WORLD displayed on theMART?! "Art on theMART" is a 35 minute program that is projected across 2.5 acres of the building's river facade. Don't miss it, but then, how could you?
Many thanks to WGN radio's "The Steve Cochran Show" (Mary Boyle!) for having me back to discuss all the cool goings on around our Windy City! I love reporting all the good news this town has to offer and appreciated the opportunity! It's always a fun time with Steve, Dave Eanet, Mary Boyle and Andrea Darlas! I will also be sharing some entertainment news on the radio soon with Melissa Forman at 93.9 LITE FM (Catch Melissa from 6-10 am weekdays)!
The Hippocratic Cancer Research Foundation will host "The Wings to Cure Gala, I Will Survive" on Saturday, November 10 at Navy Pier. The black-tie event will support the Robert H. Lurie Comprehensive Cancer Center of Northwestern University with emcees Dina Bair and Lou Canellis. For tickets, more info, click here!
York Furrier is giving back to the community with two events coming up to benefit two nonprofits "Girls in the Game" and the "Concussion Legacy Foundation". The Girls in the Game event will be held on Thursday, October 18, from 6-9 pm at the store's location in Elmhurst (107 N. York Street). Hosted by Peggy Kusinski, the event will include a dessert buffet catered by Chef Marco Conte (Marco's Table & Events), a raffle, informal modeling of the York Collection, designs by Peach Carr and a loaded swag bag! (For tickets, $50, and more info, call Dawn at 312.633.4263).
York Furrier's second event for the "Concussion Legacy Foundation" will be held on Thursday, November 15, also at the store in Elmhurst (107 N. York Street) from 6-9 pm. The evening will benefit the nonprofit's efforts to support concussion research and education, create awareness of concussion safety and care and help to ensure a safer future for young athletes. The evening will include informal modeling, nibbles created by Cloudberry Catering's Chef Debbie Detrick, raffle prizes (including a York Furrier shopping spree, restaurant certificates, Blackhawks game tickets and more). For tickets, $50, and more info, call Kelly at 631.278.7344.
Vernissage opened EXPO Chicago in grand style on September 27. To read all about this artsy, fashionable evening, click here. And on October 6, the three man crew of Apollo 8, the first men to orbit the moon, thrilled the Museum of Science and Industry crowd during its 38th annual Columbian Ball celebrating the 50th anniversary of this historic mission. Take a front seat to history and see/hear these heroes discuss their mission with Bill Kurtis HERE!
Hope you're having a fabulous, fun fall! It will be pumpkin time soon! Thanks for reading my latest blog! If you're not a subscriber, please click here! My list is never shared, only treasured.
Love, as always,
P.S. And just a little something to leave you with a smile! Grab a hanky....