By Kate Benz
Published: Sunday, January 15, 2012
GlamaRama: The Pink Frolic Ball
Civic Light Opera Guild
Saturday, June 18
Chalk it up to the presence of some swan dives into the great unknown to set a new standard, but there was an unmistakable jolt of energy swirling around the Westin for the 56th annual ball. Some eye-popping ventures into unexplored fashion territory were a breath of fresh air; most notably from Bonnie Levine and her down-to-there stunner from Kaufman Franco, while Paul Gitnik set the bar for his fellow man with a paisley Lilly Pulitzer. "Wow! When we said GlamaRama, you really took us seriously!" laughed Tim McVay, who co-chaired the soiree with his mother, Mary McVay (a mother/son first!).
The Dirty Ball
Saturday, May 7
The promise of "a salacious soiree of grog, grub, and gyration to raise booty and celebrate with 1,000 of your closest mates" turned out to be everything we hoped and dreamed it would be. "You should have seen this place two days ago," mused Jon Seeley of the cavernous warehouse-cum-wildhouse on 36th street in Lawrenceville. "We had 100 people working to make this happen." Among the most memorable moments: spotting a Viking on rollerblades and the prosthetic derriere of a cheeky pirate. "Yes! People all think it's real!" laughed its owner, Matt Bartko.
Teenie Harris, Photographer: An American Story
Carnegie Museum of Art
Friday, October 28
Anyone attempting to keep track of the number of superlatives used to describe this exhibit easily would have lost count. "When I first walked in the door, I had to walk back out. ... I was so overwhelmed!" confessed Harris' daughter, Sheryl "Tiny" Harris. Nearly every inch of wall space within the Heinz Galleries was occupied by close to 1,000 black-and-white photographs taken through Teenie's lens from the 1930s-'70s, during which he worked for the Pittsburgh Courier. As if that weren't enough, a cinematic experience came by way of seven movie-screen-size projections rotating through various collections of his photography, all choreographed to a swingy soundtrack. "I was mesmerized in there," shared honorary chair Linda Johnson Rice.
Mardi Gras Gala
Epilepsy Foundation Western/Central Pennsylvania
Tuesday, March 8
There are parties that you go to, and then there are parties that you never want to end.
Thousands of green, gold and purple balloons filled the lobby of the Westin, where stilt-walkers, jugglers, a Dixieland Band and Colleen Fulkerson wearing some custom helium couture kept us mesmerized. Tables overflowed with whimsical masks and glowing headpieces, piles of colorful beads and bright feather boas as the hotel staff managed to serve 800 of us without blinking an eye; keeping the champagne flowing and effortlessly timing courses that left our waistlines screaming for mercy.
Nearly $350K was raised to benefit the EFWCP and its programs. "You are attending the best party in Pittsburgh!" exclaimed emcee Jim Roddey.
The Corporate Roast of Frank Coonelly
Big Brothers Big Sisters
Wednesday, November 9
"In my four short years of being here, I have produced so much material for this ... I've been telling myself all day that it's for the kids." And with that, Pittsburgh Pirates prez Frank Coonelly climbed into the hot seat as the target ... ahem, man of the hour. Commentary on "The Coonsters" infamous coiffeur and the Buccos legendary state of affairs reigned supreme. "I was standing next to Frank before the start of a game and he said, 'Ugh, I hate this song'. I said, 'Frank, how can you hate this song• It's the Star-Spangled Banner!' And he says, 'I hate this song because every time I hear it, we have a bad game," zinged Pirates manager Clint Hurdle.
Peace, Love, and the JCC
Jewish Community Center of Greater Pittsburgh
Saturday, March 5
We're all for any party that has a cocktail table filled with glasses of electric orange-colored Tang awaiting us upon arrival, not to mention 900 guests running amok in knee-high boots, minis, tie dyes and bell bottoms. "Forty-five years ago, my mother wore this dress to a Ladies Hospital Aid Society event," mused co-chair Cheryl Gerson. "Can you imagine?" Standing room only as The Get Back Band, a Beatles tribute act, brought the scene to its knees, unleashing the inner wild child of many in attendance while members of the prim and proper set looked cautiously on.
A Holiday Party at the Frick
Frick Art & Historical Center
Tuesday, December 6
Leave it to the Frick to treat a large contingent of revelers to a celebration reminiscent of a Victorian Christmas that included freshly baked pastries, spiced cranberry wassail and yes, even freshly roasted chestnuts as carolers from the Boar's Head Wassail Consort serenaded 400 guests during a walking tour of the grounds. By far the coup de grace of the evening, Clayton, the Frick family home, positively glittered in all of its jaw-dropping glory. Tours of the first floor were made even sweeter by a fabulous group of docents who captivated us with tales of Mr. Mellon, Mr. Frick, and Mr. Westinghouse playing poker for pennies every Tuesday evening. If only those walls could talk ...
Full Bloom Summer Dance Party
Saturday, June 11
Card-carrying members of the urban family came ready to blow off some steam and left with a new appreciation for fire. The sell-out Spotlight Reception VIP ticket was just simmering down when the nine o'clock hour struck, and the crowd made a beeline for the lobby, where DJ SMI had turned up the volume and things really got interesting. Although, the sight of great balls of fire outside of the theater doors quickly emptied out the dance floor, where Erika May (aka EMay) twirled fire fans and Steel City Hoop hula'd to the beat of the bongos. "I have no idea what's going on, but this is what every Saturday should look like in East Liberty," mused one passerby.
From Hollywood to Paradise: The Urban Garden Party
The Mattress Factory
Friday, June 17
The clock hadn't even struck 2 in the afternoon when word began to spread like wildfire that tickets had officially sold out. Most were twitching by the time we were introduced to the musical mischief of Dr. Zoot, a shirtless-boy buffet, a parade of drag-queen starlets (hello Diana Ross, Joan Crawford and Judy Garland!), some strategically placed coconuts, and the Factory's signature cocktail. Embracing the From Hollywood to Paradise theme, socialitos aimed to please as they saluted their favorite star. "He does a great Groucho," laughed Dr. Michael White of his co-chair, Rick LeBeau.
The Royal Wedding Reception
Pittsburgh Botanic Garden
Friday, April 29
Those victimized by the post office upon the loss of a personal invitation to the Royal Wedding were elated to attend an honorary reception at the Allegheny Country Club. "I got up, I turned it on, and there I sat," confessed Dotti Bechtol, who 'fessed up to rising at the crack of dawn to watch Prince William and Kate Middleton tie the knot. Honorary Chairs The Lord and Lady Palumbo held court amongst a crowd of 350, while Royal Wedding party look-a-likes made the rounds and a projection screen replayed coverage of the Big Day for those who just couldn't get enough.
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