...PLUS SERVICE CLUB’S HOLIDAY LUNCHEON, WINGS HOSTS “SWEET HOME CHICAGO,” HUFFPO LOVES ELYSABETH, METROPOLITAN FAMILY SERVICES’ HOLIDAY LUNCHEON, STELLA SPEAKS, PET RESCUE NEWS, BBQ AND COUNTRY MUSIC AT BUB CITY, BACK IN PLAYBOY, ROE CONN WEARS CANDID CANDACE LIPSTICK ON “WINDY CITY LIVE,” KERRY WOOD’S WINTER WARM-UP, IS CRYSTAL A MRS.?, KRISTINA, KORINNA, MICHAELA AND LYNN HOST HOT HOLIDAY PARTIES, GIBSONS GIVES BACK AND SO MUCH MORE!
The annual Kandy Kane Ball is always a sell-out and this year (its 10th) was the best one yet! More than 1,000 partygoers descended on Joe’s Bar on Weed Street on December 8th for an event described as the city’s largest private toy drive. One of the event founders and organizers, Mark Bell, said, “The ticket for admission [$50] is purposefully set low in order for guests to focus their contribution on the mission of our event – TOYS! We’re all fortunate and blessed in many ways and it’s always important to give back to less fortunate individuals, particularly during the holiday season.” The semi-trailer truck was filled to the brim with toys by the end of the evening, making this year’s event the most successful ever! And I can sure see why: The fabulous theme by Derrick Taylor & Company was inspired by Dr. Seuss’ beloved classic, “How the Grinch Stole Christmas.” The winter wonderland included holly “Who” wreaths, abstract “Who” Christmas trees, Grinch fingers made from cedar and 800 yards of lime green and candy apple red silk bunting that framed the stage where the Chicago Children’s Choir opened the evening singing holiday carols. Surprise guest, celebrity illusionist Aurora Sexton, then wowed the crowd as she posed for photos dressed as the Grinch. The band Sorry for Partying and hot DJ Sye Young (one of my favs) kept the crowd on their feet into the early hours while classic holiday films played on 20 plasma screen TVs throughout the rooms. Father Jeremiah Boland of Holy Family Church was on hand to help distribute thousands of toys and bikes to multiple charities that included Catholic Charities of Chicago, Pediatric Unit of U of I Medical Center, Rush Medical Center, Kellen Shelter, West Side Employment Outreach and St. Anthony’s Hospital Community Outreach as well as to families who suffered during Hurricane Sandy. Congrats to some of the Kandy Kane Ball elves who included Brian Thompson, Chris Draska, David Sacher, Christian Habitz, Mark Bell and so many others who bring this party with a purpose to life in such grand style! Mark your calendars now for next year’s event – it’s one of my favorite holiday parties and you will love it, too! (To see more pics from this fun event, please click here!)
Every year, the Service Club of Chicago hosts a delightful Holiday Luncheon at the University Club. This year’s theme – “12 Days of Christmas” – brought out almost 200 attendees to this glorious venue at 76 E. Monroe. The room was beautifully decorated with a 20-foot Christmas tree that glowed beneath the dramatic stained glass window. An elf and an angel welcomed guests to the organization’s largest holiday luncheon yet with a champagne reception. Numerous vendors participated making holiday shopping easy and fun, all for a good cause: There was vintage jewelry and clothing from Lulu’s at the Belle Kay, fabulous furs from Hinsdale Furriers, a variety of gifts from Mary Mary and toys for our four-legged friends from Tails in the City. Other vendors included Aleksandra, Beijing Boutique, Elsa Johnson, Lisa Cotton Collection, Reginald, Inc., Toria Rose and Joelle Nadine. All of the shops donated 15 percent back to the Service Club of their sales that day. Members were also requested to bring gifts to benefit Mount St. Joseph, home to 121 special ladies with developmental and physical disabilities. The luncheon feast, chaired by SC member Sheree Valukas, included roasted butternut squash and cider soup and Amish chicken with lemon caper sauce. For dessert, a delicious chocolate crumble cake with chocolate sauce and raspberries was served. The festive tables were decorated with poinsettias and holiday greenery. The melodic sounds of the Chicago Gay Men’s Chorus filled the room with guests joining in singing the “12 Days of Christmas.” The Service Club is one of the city’s oldest charitable organizations; founded in 1890, they have continually served the welfare, civic, educational and cultural needs of Chicago and surrounding communities. Its policy of giving is to assist, improve and initiate new programs via its grant program and 100 percent of all funds raised goes directly to charity. For more info, please visit www.ServiceClubofChicago.org. (Check out more pics here!)
Led by honorary co-chairs Cece and Tom Ricketts and event co-chairs Anna Bilton and Meghan Norton, volunteers for WINGS (Women in Need Growing Stronger) raised a record $610,000 at the not-for-profit organization’s ninth annual Sweet Home Chicago fundraiser on December 9th, at the Four Seasons Hotel. Since it started in 2004, Sweet Home Chicago has become one of the city’s most successful brunch fundraisers and this year’s benefit brings the total bottom line to more than $4 million to help support WINGS Safe House. More than 480 people (approximately half children) enjoyed a delicious brunch, decorated gingerbread houses, visited with Santa and Mrs. Claus, stopped for family portraits by photographer Curtis Newborn, enjoyed balloon artists dressed as clowns and danced to a concert by Ralph’s World. Proceeds support WINGS’ domestic violence shelters, programs and services for women and children in the Chicago area. Ninety-eight percent of its operating budget is funded by corporations, foundations and individuals, as well as WINGS three northwest suburban resale shops. Guests in attendance included WINGS Board Chair Rita Canning with husband John, Monsignor Kenneth Velo, Ellen and Jim O’Connor and their grandchildren Reagan Cole and Caroline Cole, and the Wendy and Steve Backer family. For more info, please visit www.wingsprogram.com. (Photos by Waldemar Reichert.)
Congrats are in order for my beautiful friend/whirling dervish/columnist/filmmaker/human dynamo Elysabeth Alfano! Not only does she have TWO hit shows – “Fear No Art,” a great show that demystifies the art world with all of the movers and shakers (and the cutest host) AND “The Dinner Party,” where Elysabeth mixes it up with our town’s most notables/celebs during a fabulous dinner prepared by top notch chefs WITH entertainment – but she was also chosen this year as one of HuffPo Chicago’s 25 top bloggers! I’m tired just reading this but there really is nothing this talented woman can’t do and I’m so happy to see her doing it ALL in such grand style! Both of her shows are must-sees; don’t miss a segment – see them all! Her most recent column for the Huffington Post includes holiday gift and stocking stuffer ideas from 15 of “Chicago’s Most Creatives”...not sure how I fit in this category but I’m honored to be included!
Generous sponsors and guests helped Metropolitan Family Services raise a whopping $1,187,000 at its 31st Annual Holiday Celebration, held December 1st at the Hilton Chicago. The Gerst Family was honored as Metropolitan’s Family of the Year for its many contributions to the organization. All event expenses were generously underwritten by an anonymous donor. (Nice!) That means all event proceeds will support the Metropolitan’s programs and services, which provide hope and opportunity to more than 53,000 Chicago-area families and individuals each year. More than 700 guests came out to enjoy the Holiday Celebration, which was emceed by Chicago Tribune Co. publisher and CEO Tony Hunter. The event featured various entertainment and activities including vocalists Liane Williams and Markiyla Moore, Sammie Torres and His Latin Ensemble and the Calumet Center Community Schools Choir. There were also live and silent auctions, a wine raffle featuring select vintages and a Holiday Giving Tree raffle. (Tree raffle proceeds benefitted Metropolitan’s Upward Bound program, which prepares first-generation college students to successfully enter college; click here to see a short video that shows how Metropolitan helps youth in the Upward Bound program to realize their dreams.) Visit www.metrofamily.org for more and view pictures here.
The Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation’s 6th Annual Be My Valentine Family Event will be on February 10th from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Ritz-Carlton Chicago Hotel, located at 160 E. Pearson. The fun-filled event will feature a family brunch buffet, Valentine’s activities
for children and a special concert by award-winning children’s musician Justin Roberts & the Not Ready for Naptime Players. Lighting the room “pink” will be Justin Jacobson and Platinum Events, who will also be providing fantastic DJ entertainment for dancing, dancing, dancing! Other activities will include sweet treat decorating and tips from Sweet
Mandy B’s, ELTIF Designs bead bar for all jewelry making enthusiasts, make-overs from Sweet and Sassy, an Abt Electronics video arcade room and family fun entertainment from Harris Kal Productions. The Be My
Valentine Family Event is co-chaired by Julie Lampert and Jennifer Meyers and all proceeds benefit the Lynn Sage Cancer Research Foundation. Expect this event to be a sell-out so get your tickets now: Tickets are $85 for adults and $65 for children in advance and $100 for adults and $80 for children at the door. Tickets are available by ordering online at www.lynnsage.org or by calling 312-926-7133. Hope to see you there!
For all of you who miss the “voice of reason” Stella Foster, here are some of her thoughts on all of the violence that’s occurring in our country now. Thanks for allowing me to share this with my readers, Stella: “Given all these ‘Bloody Weekends’ that this city is now noted for, the best you can do out here in your everyday lives is try to not become a statistic. Blacks killing blacks will not stop because self-hatred is a real issue in the black community. The overwhelming cases of shootings in Chicago has created a runaway train most likely filled with violence -prone children from unwed teens, who never should have had babies in the first place. Babies cannot raise babies and when this society became so tolerant and seem to embrace and celebrate unwed girls and boys having babies all willy nilly, babies become susceptible to gangs taking over their lives early in life and the result is what u c running wild in our streets with no heart! The decline of morality in this country along with the daily images of sex and violence will continue to cause sadness . So try not to become a stat by staying ever alert and pay attention to who you are around when you have to venture into the dangerous streets of Chicago and the burbs! If there were no bullets, guns would not be in demand!” WE MISS YOU STELLA!
Great news and congrats to Chicagoland’s senior pet adoption option Young at Heart Pet Rescue on its recent purchase of eight acres of beautiful land in unincorporated Woodstock. This property will eventually become a serene oasis for senior dogs and cats (seven years and older) in need of rescue and will include an adoption center, sanctuary and grounds designed specifically with these pets in mind. I love this charity that has placed more than 520 senior pets into loving homes this year. Executive Director Dawn Kemper shared this delightful holiday story written by Scott Craven called “Toby and the Christmas Ring.” Read the story here (with a box of tissue nearby) and find out more about this wonderful charity!
And speaking of pet rescues, don’t miss Freezin’ for a Reason, a benefit for Project Rescue Chicago on January 5th at Foster Avenue Beach (located at 5200 N. Lake Shore in Andersonville) beginning with a 10:15 a.m. check-in and photos. Every year, Chicagoans are reminded of just how lucky they are to have a warm place to call home every night but many homeless dogs and puppies don’t have this luxury. It is in honor of these animals that Project Rescue Chicago (PRC) is throwing its first fundraiser of 2013. Join fellow animal lovers and take the plunge for charity! A PRC founder Bridgid Nolan said, “We like to have a good time out on the lake and at the bar afterwards but I’m most excited about helping the dogs in need. This fundraiser will provide resources for many shelter animals.” To register (there is a $25 fee) and for more info, please click here or call Project Rescue Chicago at 312-623-0939. I’ll be cheering you on from the shore...brrrrrrrr. :)
Thanks so much to “Windy City Live” for having me back on! It was a delightful surprise to find out when I arrived at the studios that not only would I be doing my event segment but that I had also been included in Host Chat! Never mind the terror I felt for not having read the newspapers that morning, I was still pumped albeit a bit quiet during the segment! LOL! I especially loved seeing Ryan applying my CAMP Cosmetics’ Candid Candace lipstick to his fellow co-host, Roe Conn! Real men do wear Candid Candace! Remember, hockey great Jeremy Roenick also wore it on WCIU’s “You and Me This Morning” not long ago?! Maybe I need to come up with a new unisex color...perhaps Candid Candace Manly Mango? If you missed the segment, see below – it was really cute! (Thanks to Amie Hana for the great photos used during the segment, too!)
Huge congrats to the Melman siblings for yet another restaurant coup! RJ, Jerrod and Molly, in conjunction with partners Chef Doug Psaltis and mixologist Paul McGee, have created their own destination for country music lovers to enjoy a cocktail, grab a bite and have some fun! With Joe’s Bar on Weed Street partners Ed Warm and Tom DeSanto in the mix, guests can expect to see some of country music’s top emerging talent perform on the venue’s
16-foot stage positioned at the center of the 4,500-square-foot space. BBQ-focused Bub City is located at 435 N. Clark and serves signature items that include slow-smoked bone-in short ribs, baby back ribs, Carolina-style pulled pork and a shellfish bar. Large groups can enjoy the “Whole Pork Picnic” featuring slow-smoked pork shoulder served with four sides – I can’t wait to try it! BBQ, beer, bourbon and the best of country music comes to River North! Yee haw!
Woot! Woot! Thanks to Playboy for including me in its January 2013 issue! It seems that my interview with legendary actor Al Pacino drew some interest from Hef! Thanks to Mila Samokhina for the fab photo and to the Chicago International Film Festival for making a dream come true! And speaking of Playboy, under the draw-your-own-conclusions category, I came across Hef’s fiance’s (Crystal Harris) Twitter page and it seems there has been a name change to Crystal Hefner! If true, I wish them both a world of happiness!!
Don’t miss the Wood Family Foundation’s second annual Woody’s Winter Warm-Up at Harry Caray’s at Navy Pier on January 18th. Retired Cubs great Kerry Wood and glam wife Sarah have invited past and present Cubs along with other sports stars and celebs to this wonderful event benefitting their foundation that supports children in need in the Chicagoland area. There will be a dinner buffet, amazing silent auction laden with sports memorabilia (last year, Ernie Banks’ signed bat and jersey was snagged by Beam VP Tom Strehle), open bar, raffle, photo ops and so much more! For tickets ($150) and more info, please click here!
Don’t forget to join me on NYE for Chicago Empire, an event named as one of the “top NYE parties in Chicago” by the Huffington Post! I will be doing the countdown with NBC’s Marcus Riley at Untitled, located at 111 W. Kinzie. Six floors of fun will include the Gold Coast All Stars, Mr. Robotic, VH1 reality star “JRL” Justin Ross Lee and so much more! Tickets begin at $125 for this sure-to-be-fabulous production from Platinum Events’ Justin Jacobson!
The Gibsons Restaurant Group not only serves up delicious food but, it also has a very strong charitable bent, too! For the past five years, John Colletti and Kathy O’Malley Piccone, along with dozens of darling helpers, host “Gibsons New Year: New Friends, Full Bellies, Warm Feet” in partnership with Chicago Catholic Charities. You can help by donating gifts of warmth such as hats, socks, gloves and scarves to Gibsons Restaurant, located at 1028 N. Rush St. They will be serving more than 400 less fortunate individuals at the restaurant on New Year’s Day. Kind hearts and good food for charity – LOVE these peeps! :)
You couldn’t imagine a more elegant holiday party than the one recently hosted by glamorous and charitable twins Kristina McGrath and Korinna Isselhardt at the McGrath home in the Gold Coast. More than 100 equally glam friends turned out in force to celebrate the holidays in grand style at this gorgeous condo in the former Playboy building. As soon as the elevator doors opened onto their floor, you knew you were in for a most delightful, festive evening filled with friends. Serving elves offered up specialty cocktails, a bountiful dinner buffet and photographer Christoper Free was on hand snapping shots of friends wearing various types of holiday headgear and there was magnificent décor everywhere you looked. I loved their clever idea of asking friends to bring a beauty-related gift under $50. These gifts then served as the guests’ goody bags as they left the party – just brilliant! I was still there (ahem) when Kristina’s handsome and loving husband Mike came home after his own night out with friends. As he embraced her, I heard him ask, “Are you happy?” I’m sure this was Santa disguised as Mike McGrath! Ho! Ho! Ho! (View more fun and festive pics here!)
It was a winter wonderland theme for guests at the holiday luncheon recently co-hosted by beautiful ladies Michaela Parrillo and Lynn McMahan. The room at the Casino had a cozy fire roaring, elegantly appointed tables all done in sparkling shades of winter white, liveried waiters offering tea service and tiny sandwiches of smoked salmon, brie and apple, cucumber, tomato and egg salad, profiteroles filled with chicken salad and gluten free rice paper chicken salad wrap. Decadent desserts included white and dark chocolate dipped strawberries, petit
fours, tea cookies and miniature lemon meringue tarts. Michaela and Lynn had planned some surprises including asking guests to sing-a-long to the “12 Days of Christmas.” It was a lovely afternoon with the most beautiful décor I’ve seen: Even the tablecloths looked like they were dipped in fairy dust and were imported by Lynn from a faraway place, of course! If you know these two ladies, you know that every detail was attended to! Guests left with gifts topped with crystal snowflakes that held the perfect Chanel lip gloss inside. Love these girls and loved being part of their special day!
That’s it for this week and I hope you’re not too frenzied as we near Christmas and the end of the year. I'm also glad the Mayans were wrong... :)
Love, as always,