Epilepsy Foundation's Mardi Gras royalty makes arrival as Egyptian queen
“I like to have fun, but usually it's not with 850 people around,” confessed soon-to-be crowned King of the Mardi Gras Kim Tillotson Fleming.
The Epilepsy Foundation Western/Central Pennsylvania did little in the way of arm-twisting to uncork its annual Mardi Gras gala, seeing to it that the ballroom of the Westin was filled to capacity on the rowdiest of weekdays: Fat Tuesday.
But before the aforementioned royal began her reign, word on the street was that her official entrance would be nothing short of “spectacular,” as teasers left everyone guessing during cocktail hour.
Leading up to the main event was much ado about the Bourbon Street transformation materializing before everyone's eyes. Green, purple and gold helium balloons — 7,000 to be exact — floated just below the ceiling of the lobby, which quickly became elbow-room-only as the revelry kicked into high gear. Also hyping the evening was the closed-off ballroom, the doors to which opened only after the Ray Ryan New Orleans Riverside Band led the parade of dinner co-chairs Dennis Unkovic, Laura Ellsworth, Scott Lammie, Michael Herald, Christy Uffelman andCraig Tillotson, who came bearing baskets filled with beads. Behind those closed doors, 200 vintage umbrellas in every color of the rainbow hung whimsically from the ceiling, a vision that came to fruition through the dogged determination of Kevin Wilson with an assist from Seattle-based Bella Umbrella.
“I literally started at 9 a.m. on Sunday and didn't finish until 3:30 (the next) morning,” he said.
On each table, a choose-your-own-adventure in wardrobe accessorizing that included layers of feathered masks and beads was immediately put to good use as master of ceremonies Jim Roddey finally convinced the crowd to be seated. By then, it was time for the king to officially make her entrance. As palms were waved, in she came — seated on a gold throne carried by a royal Egyptian court behind a troupe of young Cleopatras dropping rose petals.
“I've seen just about every one of these, and this one is the best yet,” Roddey said.
From there, the John Parker Band kept the party going for the likes of executive director Judith Painter, Bruce Teitelbaum, Helen Hanna Casey and Stephen Casey, Charlie andTasha Batch, Diane Holder, Morgan and Kathy O'Brien, Drs.Loren and Ellen Roth, Phil and Jill Gattone, Dr. Miya Asato and George Childs, Mark and Diane Minnaugh, Frank and Gerri Poerio, and Doris Carson Williams andJames Williams.
The gala raised $350K for the foundation.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre closes 45th season with opulent gala
- JDRF’s Rainbow Ball in Pittsburgh continues fight against diabetes
- Pittsburgh Zoo’s Fashion for the Wild raises $40K
- Rooneys host patron party for Pittsburgh Park Conservatory’s Spring Hat Luncheon
- Flash!: Art Rooney Award Dinner; Irene’s Dream luncheon
- Jazz guitarist Pizzarelli helps draw big crowd to FamilyLinks benefit in Pittsburgh