...PLUS INAUGURATION (CELEBS & PARTIES), THODOS TURNS 21, JAN’S OSCAR SWAG, BLACK CREATIVITY GALA, TICKLED PINK, CHEEKIEST CHICKS OF 2013, EMERGE! IS ON FOR NYFW, SHELLEY’S “THING CALLED LOVE,” CHEF ART'S BIG BASH, MY TOP 2012 VIDEO MOMENTS ON WATCH312 AND SO MUCH MORE!
It was the second annual Woody’s Winter Warm-Up hosted by beloved former Cubs pitcher Kerry Wood and his beautiful wife, Sarah. I attended the inaugural event last year and it seemed to double in size this time, which I was thrilled to see! Everyone wants to support this charitable pair and there were more than 400 guests at Harry Caray’s Tavern at Navy Pier to celebrate. The line snaked down the hallway with early arrivals and you could hear the excited voices as soon as you entered the building. Trolleys had been scheduled to bring all of the players from the Cubs Convention on Friday night to Navy Pier so there were a lot of anxious PR people working their radios – at one point, I heard that a driver had gotten lost! The red carpet was co-hosted by two of my favorite people, Windy City Live’s Ryan Chiaverini and Whitney Reynolds (who will be hosting her own show on WTTW coming soon!). The press was out in force for this party that included sports stars past and present, media personalities and top-notch entertainment. Emceed by radio personality Pete McMurray and TV/radio show host Jane Monzures, the night included meet-and-greet opportunities, an open bar, dinner buffet and a raffle with ALL proceeds benefitting the Wood Family Foundation (WFF). A silent auction included sports memorabilia such as signed jerseys from Cubs Hall of Famers Ernie Banks and Fergie Jenkins, a signed retirement flag from Banks, a Kerry Wood signed jersey, a W flag signed by players, numerous signed baseballs (lucky collector Tom Strehle nabbed one signed by Billy Williams) and a football signed by Mike Ditka with a bottle of Ditka merlot thrown in for good measure. Guests enjoyed musical performances by rock n’ roll Hall of Famer Dave Mason and R&B singer Gina Venier but the group that brought the house down was Chi-Town’s Finest Breakers! These five siblings, ranging in age from 7 to 14 years old, have appeared on Ellen and Oprah and were back-up dancers for Justin Bieber. Their acrobatic skills were a sight to behold: Spinderella holds the world record for the longest head spin at more than 15 minutes! DJ Greg Corner (an Obama favorite) started and finished the night with some eclectic tunes with a highlight of the evening happening near the end when Cubs players signed their bartending shirts and auctioned them off to the crowd. Guests seen on the scene included Cubs Hall of Famer Ernie Banks, Matt Garza, Darwin Barney, Starlin Castro, David and Kim DeJesus, Jeff Samardzija, Travis Wood, James Russell, Wellington Castro, Tom Ricketts, Theo Epstein, Cheryl Scott, Peggy Kusinski, Stefan Holt, Kathy Hart, Rafer Weigel, Showbiz Shelley, AJ Johnson, Megan and Lance Josh Needle, Trevor Mosvaugh, Grant DePorter, Shawn Camp, Nick Struck, DC Crenshaw, Glaros, Nick Roach, Jody Davis, Josh Vitters, Anthony Rizzo, Tom Strehle, Daphne Ortiz, Dale, Sveum, Kelli Zink, Luis Gomez, Hannah O’Leary, Beth Heller, Laurie Dimakos, Kate Gaddi and Tony Campana. All proceeds from the evening (more than $100K) benefitted the Wood Family Foundation, which works to improve the lives of children in and around Chicago by raising funds and awareness for its children’s programs and other children’s charities they support. This year, Sarah announced that the organization opened the Wood Family Foundation playroom on the oncology floor at Lurie Children’s, broke ground on Kerry Wood Cubs Field, held a free baseball clinic in Englewood, supplied more than 400 coats and toys to Nash Elementary and, for the first time, will be sending a student to UIC on a full scholarship. I was told that near the end of the evening, Kerry even paid out of his own pocket to extend the party! I heard many other stories this night about the generosity of the Wood family and I stand in awe. Congrats Sarah and Kerry on all of your many good works! I can’t wait to see what next year brings! To learn more about the WFF, please click here.
Good deeds seems to be the hallmark of our Chicago Cubs as outfielder David DeJesus and his wife Kim hosted more than 275 guests at the River East Arts Center on January 17th for their inaugural Strike a Pose Fashion Show benefitting their non-profit, the David DeJesus Family Foundation. The show featured Cubs players and their wives walking the runway in fashions from the 900 North Michigan Shops, Peach Carr Designs and Two Penny Blue. NBC’s Cheryl Scott welcomed everyone before taking to the runway and host David DeJesus enlisted the help of teammate Anthony Rizzo to help announce the show. The evening raised more than $180K to help in the fight against ALS. Kim and David presented a video that featured their dear friend Brian Schnurstein (who was in attendance) and his personal struggle since being diagnosed with this disease. Brian’s wife, Lindsay, spoke eloquently and from the heart about the affects ALS has had on her family. Guests enjoyed cocktails and food from some of Chicago’s hottest restaurants while listening to the sounds of DJ Kasper K. The live and silent auctions raised about $80K and featured courtside Bulls tickets, a diamond necklace, field lessons with David DeJesus and autographed sports memorabilia. Runway VIPs included Kerry and Sarah Wood, Darwin and Lindsay Barney, Shawn Camp, Tony Campana, Starlin Castro, Steve Clevenger, Scott Feldman, Brett Jackson, Anthony Rizzo, James Russell, Ian Stewart, Travis and Brittany Wood, Matt Garza and “The Bachelorette” winner Ed Swiderski. VIP guests in attendance included designer Peach Carr (Project Runway Season 8 and Project Runway All Stars Season 2), Tom, Pete and Todd Ricketts, Chef Art Smith, Cubs president of operations Theo Epstein and wife Marie Whitney (Two Penny Blue), Patrick Mannelly (Chicago Bear) and Dave Kaplan (Comcast). “It has been a longtime desire to host a charity event in our hometown of Chicago,” said David. “We felt it was only natural to make our first fundraiser dedicated to raising funds for research, patient care and family support for those suffering from ALS.” “We are excited to give ALS a voice in this city!” added Kim. For more info, visit the foundation's website. (To see ALL event pics by Hallie Duesenberg, click here!)
I was thrilled to cover so many fabulous Chicago parties last year for my Watch312.com show, "Candid Candace Chicago." I hope you enjoy some of my favorite moments below! :)
Celebrity Chef Art Smith hosted a late night Chef’s Ball at his hot Washington, D.C. restaurant, Art & Soul (located in The Liaison Capitol Hill Affinia Hotel) on January 19th to
celebrate President Obama’s inauguration with Washingtonians, visitors, friends and the D.C. restaurant community in attendance. (Executive Chef Wes Morton co-chaired the Ball with
Art). A portion of the proceeds from the evening benefitted Common Threads, a non-profit founded by Art and partner Jesus Salguiero that helps low-income children understand the
importance of nutrition and physical well-being. Five additional D.C. chefs prepared late night bites for the event, as well, with some of the proceeds also benefitting their charities of choice. They included Erik Bruner-Yang (chef/owner Toki Underground), Scott
Drewno (executive chef The Source), Todd Gray (co-owner/chef Equinox Restaurant), Rock Harper
(Hell’s Kitchen Season 3 winner and director of Kitchen Operations, D.C. Central Kitchen) and Mike Isabella (Top Chef All-Stars finalist and chef/owner Graffiato, Kapnos and G). “Washington, D.C. is a burgeoning food town and when Americans
visit our nation’s capital they should expect to eat well and party well into the morning,” said Chef Art Smith. “I’ve invited some of the most talented chefs I know in D.C. to help host a ball that chefs and foodies can enjoy while raising funds for their charities and showcasing some of the best food D.C. has to offer!” (Don’t miss Art and Jesus’ next BIG Chicago event, World Festival, on March 4th – details here!)
More inaugural party news with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx and rapper will.I.Am kicking off the Hennessy V.S Inauguration Takeover at the swanky Park at 14th in Washington, D.C. Foxx took over the event performing for more than two hours and brought the packed house down as he sang several songs from his catalog including “Unpredictable” and “Blame It” as well as popular songs that included “All Gold Everything” by Trinidad James and A$AP Rocky's hit song “F*ckin' Problems.” will.I.Am also performed with NY Giants superstar Victor Cruz and radio personality Big Tigger. Foxx got a chance to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial and said, “Please know that we're living in spectacular times for African Americans.” He also gave a shout-out to his "Django Unchained" co-stars and shared these thoughts: “Thank you for your support of this film. Every day on the set, I thought of you and how you would enjoy this film. The only thing that mattered after we did that movie was if black folks liked it. It was about respecting you guys.” (Photos courtesy of Jeff Dormeus.)
Don’t miss the exciting Thodos Dance Company’s 21st anniversary gala, 21 Club, at the Chicago Cultural Center on Saturday, February 2nd. TDC founder/artistic director Melissa Thodos and Tony Award-winning Broadway star and frequent TDC collaborator Ann Reinking will preview their latest creative collaboration A Light in the Dark, the story of Helen Keller and Anne Sullivan. NBC 5 news anchor Kim Vatis will emcee this special evening that will be themed to New York’s historic restaurant and prohibition-era speakeasy, the 21 Club. Co-chaired by Reinking and guest artist Gary Chryst, the gala will be capped off with a performance by the Thodos Dance Chicago Youth Ensemble. For tickets, $275, and more info, please click here or call 312.266.6255.
HUGE congrats to Jan Lewis, wife of legendary jazz man Ramsey Lewis: Her beautiful jewelry has been selected for inclusion in the prestigious Everybody Wins at the Oscars Nominee Bag! The unique, eye catching, hand crafted Fair Trade bangles will be hand delivered the morning after the Oscars telecast to all of the nominees and host Seth MacFarlane. “I started this business focused only on creating a new line, a new look, for discriminating women who appreciate unique, moderately priced jewelry,” Ms. Lewis said. “My focus was also on Fair Trade. Each bangle is a one-of-a-kind piece and all of our jewelry is individually hand crafted by our artists in India who are paid a fair wage.”
I hope to see you at Saturday (1/26) night’s 30th annual Black Creativity Gala at the Museum of Science and Industry! Honorary gala co-chairs are the Honorable Anne Burke, AARP’s Merri Dee and Northern Trust Bank’s Connie Lindsey. The night will include a juried exhibition of more than 100 pieces of artwork by African- American artists from around the country. The evening’s proceeds will support the museum’s Black Creativity Program. For tickets ($350), contact Octavia Hooks at 773.947.3729 or visit www.msichicago.org.
Tickled Pink, one of the hottest parties for a great cause, returns to the River East Art Center on February 8th. This event was founded in 2005 after Carrie Kenney lost her seven-year battle with breast cancer the year before at the age of 35. Her cousin Jodi Fyfe gathered a group of close friends and colleagues to start Tickled Pink Chicago in honor of Carrie. For tickets ($95) and more info, please click here!
And now, The Joffrey Ballet’s Women’s Board presents something special for Valentine’s Day! Chicago’s own Shelley MacArthur will star in a benefit performance called “What is This Thing Called Love?” on February 14th (of course!) at the Murphy Auditorium, located at 50 E. Erie St. A lavish pre-performance cocktail reception begins at 6 p.m. followed by a 7:15 p.m. show. Shelley’s special guests include Rodrick Dixon and Alfreda Burke with orchestration by The City Lights Orchestra conducted by Rich Daniels. For tickets ($350) and more info, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 312.386.8921. Hope to see YOU there!
Congrats to all of the deserving Cheeky Chicks of 2013!! At a recent party at PUBLIC Hotel, honorees included Megan Chappell (founder of TruHarmony Yoga), Monika Dixon (prez of Monika Dixon PR), Meg Galus (exec pastry chef of NoMI Kitchen), Coco Meers (founder of PrettyQuick.com), Laura Modica (nightlife director at PUBLIC Hotel), Shannon O’Brien (freelance makeup artist), Brittney Payton (host of “Chicago’s Best”); Lindsay Segal (co-founder of Luxury Garage Sale), Laura Schwartz (political correspondent and author) and Jenna Zielbauer (founder of Cotton Candy Couture). I also loved the fab write-up in the Sun-Times that featured CheekyChicago.com founders Jessica Zweig and Erica Bethe Levin! Woot woot!
Emerge!, the fashion collective showcasing local talent, returns during New York Fashion Week on February 12th! Produced and founded by Dionne Williams, this year’s Emerge! designers will include Parul Aneja (Gorgeous Ways), Deidre Jefferies (Espion Atelier), Bernice Morgan (Designersberg) and C. ‘Butterfli Tia’ Dunkley. Red carpet arrivals will begin at 6 p.m. with the show and Innovator Award Ceremony beginning at 7 p.m. at the Broad Street Ballroom, located at 41 Broad St. in NYC. For more info, please call 312.243.9060, email Dionne@dwilliamspr.com or visit www.dwilliamspr.com.
A first!!!! I had such a thrill designing my very own handbag at the hot Lincoln Park store Laudi Vidni at 1007 W. Armitage! Co-founder Laura Kofoid approached me a while back and we finally had a chance to meet over a design concept. Their philosophy empowers women to be their own brand, think outside the logo and gives them the opportunity to design high-quality leather handbags that reflect their own tastes and needs, not those of someone else. With more than 40 imported leathers to choose from and 10,000+ possible style combos, it was a daunting task but I can’t wait to share my design concept with you – I think it will be THE perfect clutch! An in-store celebration is planned to introduce my bag to the public so I hope you can join me! Details to follow! “We believe fashion is limitless and the only ‘rule’ that should be followed is one that says do what you like,” said Kofoid. AMEN!
I’ll be returning to “Windy City Live” on February 25th to share some of my TOP parties for the month of March! I hope you will tune in and check out some of Chicago’s hottest happenings!
Loved the inauguration and loved seeing all of the cool fashions, especially on this glam pair! Hope you’re enjoying January and I hope to see you next week!
Love, as always,
P.S. If you or someone you know is interested in a career in television, radio, production, broadcasting or emerging media, check out the Illinois Centers for Broadcasting! I’m so exciting to be conducting a seminar at the Chicago campus on February 9th on entertainment reporting! During my video presentation using clips from my past shows, I'll share my dos and don’ts of the interview process with some of the top movie stars in the world! Sign up and see! (You must be an enrolled student). Hope to see you there!