...PLUS “MAKING A SCENE” FOR CHICAGO CHILDREN’S THEATRE, “GREAT FUTURES” FOR UNION LEAGUE, WORLD OF CHOCOLATE, POP TABS FOR CHARITY, WHAT I’M THANKFUL FOR AND MORE!
The Junior League’s 40th annual Gazebo Holiday Market celebrated the organization’s centennial year on Friday, November 18th, and was filled with more than 40 vendors from across the country. The preview party, “Martinis & Mistletoe,” was chaired by Julie Rogers and Laura Stevenson and attracted more than 350 young, professional movers and shakers. Santa (aka John Sullivan) greeted guests at the door and, for a small donation, you could have your photo taken with him. The atmosphere was festive and happy and it seemed like ALL of the organization’s 1,600 women members participated in some way to make this event the success that it was. Shopping continued on Saturday with almost 1,000 people attending! Friday night’s preview party included cocktails, music, cheese samplings from Cabot Creamery, Jo Malone fragrance consultations, facials by Thrive Integrative Medical Spa, chair massages by Health Source Chiropractic, raffle drawings, Sugar Bliss Cupcakes samplings, tasty hors d’oeuvres and so much more. It also offered a first look at the unique holiday offerings that included gifts from Antique Creations (Art Deco cufflinks, Victorian watches and more items filled with nostalgia), Tiny Creations (children’s clothing), Katherine Anne Confections (delicious handmade chocolate truffles and caramels), K. Amato Jewelry, Barque (canine couture) and Shernette Swaby (designer creations) among many others. There were a couple of standouts at this holiday market that could be a column all on their own – the first being Frames by Devora. I was captivated by this colorful booth manned by a very cheery Sheila Fisher, mother of Devora. At seven months old, Devora was diagnosed with Agenesis of the Corpus Callosum and has since then had numerous additional medical problems requiring 24-hour supervision. Despite her diagnosis, she graduated from New Trier High School in 2007 and now, at age 26, is painting and designing custom photo frames to raise awareness for this disease as well as to enable herself and others like her to live with family and lead fulfilling lives as productive members of their community. Sheila Fisher said, “Our goal with Frames by Devora is to spread the message that no matter what level someone is that everyone can do something and everyone has worth.” What a delightful idea for a holiday gift! My other highlight was an amazing baby collection called TwoTara designed and conceived 15 months ago by Kate Janeczko that included pink-to-blue reversible clothing and accessories for newborn babies. With over 40 percent of new parents not learning the sex of their baby until birth, this product is a game changer! No more settling for yellow and green for a baby gift. TwoTara also makes a perfect baby shower gift, take-home outfit and the perfect hand-me-down! Kate’s collection is now in 50 stores in eleven states and I’m pretty sure it will become a household name soon! For this wonderful two-day market, a portion of every purchase was donated to the JLC’s community projects dedicated to the empowerment of at-risk women and children in the Chicagoland area. Mark your calendars now for their next event, “Windy City Nights,” which is set for Saturday, March 24th.
Mayor Rahm Emanuel kicked off the annual “Making a Scene” benefit with more than 250 supporters in attendance to benefit the Chicago Children’s Theatre, the city’s only professional theatre company dedicated to young audiences. The event was held at the Ravenswood Billboard Factory, a hip, urban one-of-a-kind special event venue filled with classic cars, retro neon signs, steel beams and skylights. Steve Dolinsky, ABC 7’s “Hungry Hound” planned a delicious menu for the evening in consultation with J & L Catering. Magician and House Theatre company member Dennis Watkins performed a daring stunt made famous by Harry Houdini – a death-defying escape from Houdini’s Water Torture Cell. (Watkins’ stunt spurred buzz for the theatre’s upcoming world premiere of “The Houdini Box,” the new musical adventure set to begin on January 27th at Chicago’s Mercury Theater.) With leadership from event co-chairs Krista and J.P. Gallagher, Julia Harris, Sonny Garg and the CCT “Making a Scene” host committee, this event surpassed its fundraising goals raising more than $340K for the theatre company and its Red Kite Project, an ongoing outreach initiative dedicated to making live theater accessible to children on the autism spectrum. Actor Daniel Eichengreen delivered a touching testimonial about this project and the effect it’s had on his own life. Auctioneer Greg Dellinger fielded bids on live auction packages that included a Starwood’s Viceroy Anguilla Caribbean Beach Resort trip with first class United Airlines airfare (what a perfect time for this prize!) and a Top Gun Simulator package gifted by United Airlines to experience flight from the captain’s seat at their Denver training facility among other exciting offerings. (I’ll take the Caribbean trip please, thank you very much!) “Scenemaker” host committee members included Eda Davidman, Gigi Pritzker Pucker and Michael Pucker, Elizabeth and Jeff Purvis, Steve Dolinsky, Ahmer and Samar Ahmad, Kristen and Matt Bonanno, Tom and Dawn Clewatt, Rob and Mary Collins, Nancy Cooper, Jerry and Bill Eichengreen, Bridget Gainer, Mara and Andy Gloor, Nada and Michael Gray among others. Chicago Children’s Theatre’s latest hit musical, “Goodnight Moon, the Musical” is on stage now at Victory Gardens Biograph Theater, located at 2433 N. Lincoln, through December 23rd. To view ALL event pics by Ravi Ganapathy, please click here!)
The 34th Annual Union League Boys & Girls Clubs Gala, “Great Futures Start Here,” brought out more than 300 supporters and raised upwards of $200K to support the organization’s five clubhouses throughout the city. ABC7 anchor Kathy Brock emceed this event chaired by Gail Kiss to raise funds to expand programs and services which will benefit more than 11,000 Chicago children. The evening included a silent and live auction featuring a sculpture by respected Chicago artist, Richard Hunt. Guests dined on a seasonally inspired four course meal by Union League Club Executive Chef Michael Garbin and danced the night away to the sounds of the Al Sofia Orchestra. The organization’s impact on the community is substantial with 99 percent of its members graduating from high school. Union League Boys & Girls Club President Michael Chioros had this to say: “Over the past 34 years the gala has raised more than $3 million and benefitted over 250,000 youths ages 6-18 in Chicago. Additionally, we are able to offer 697 youths an opportunity to attend our 250 acre summer camp in Salem, Wisconsin where they can experience an environment free from drugs, gangs and violence and lead them to a great future.” For more than 90 years, the organization has served thousands of children in five inner city Chicago clubs in the Pilsen, West Town and Humboldt Park communities. (For more info about this wonderful organization, please visit www.ulbgc.org and big thanks to Steve Starr for the fab fotos!)
The 10th annual World of Chocolate holiday extravaganza benefitting the Aids Foundation of Chicago will be held at the Hilton Chicago on Thursday, December 1st from 6 – 9 p.m. This year’s event will help commemorate World AIDS Day and help celebrate the beginning of the holiday season in grand style with chocolate creations from more than 30 of Chicago’s finest restaurants, caterers and chocolatiers. A Memory Wall, a powerful display of photos and words, will honor those who have died from HIV/AIDS and those who bravely live with the disease every day. For tickets and more info, please click here.
I hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving! Food was plentiful at my sister and brother-in-law’s, (Nancy and Os Steinwald) and the family is healthy. Sadly, I know this isn’t the case for everyone. Maybe this is why I’ve always loved Oprah’s idea of a gratitude journal. I also love – and never miss – Michael Sneed’s annual Sun-Times Thanksgiving column where she gives thanks for the important things in her life. And it isn’t just the obvious things like the good health of your children or the love of your spouse: She is thankful for the small things, too, like a cactus wren or the smell of coffee from a favorite restaurant in Mexico. As I reflect on the year that’s almost behind us, I think there is certainly much to be thankful for. Of course I am grateful for my ever-patient husband Chuck. I don’t know how he puts up with some of my “ideas” but I am certainly grateful. I love putting up my Christmas décor and love the memories of each and every ornament as I place it on our tree. I love feeding the backyard birds and especially love the Downy woodpecker that seems so tame he practically comes when I call. I love watching the dancers of the Joffrey Ballet do anything. I love knowing that our city will have the world’s largest Ronald McDonald House. I love knowing that Common Threads is growing by leaps and bounds so more kids can gain confidence and knowledge through its programs. I love the horse and carriages that clatter down our street when you least expect it. I love my neighbors...yes, you heard me right. I love any party at Steve and Lucy Weiss’. They remind me of what a community should be like with wonderful camaraderie and happy, easy laughter. And I love seeing my friends succeed at whatever task they’re attempting. (To see pics, please click here.) I am also so very, very grateful to have this blog, my Tribune column, my Chicago Now gig (and Jimmy Greenfield especially) and my new show on Watch312.com. You never know where life will take you but I am ready for the ride! :)
Love and thanks for your readership,
P.S. I know that money is short nowadays for everybody and that buying expensive tickets to charity galas is not always an option, but if you still want to help the less fortunate, Ronald McDonald House Charities has a solution! If you have the opportunity, please save your pop tabs! United Scrap Metal, a local recycling company, recycles the metal and pays RMHC the market value, plus a charitable match on a percentage of their profit. There are six locations to turn in your tabs so please click here for more info and happy recycling!