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Living it UP

| Monday, June 25, 2007

Friday night and the Cultural District was the center of the universe. Pittsburgh's finest were directing traffic, crowds flocked past jazz musicians in Katz Plaza that was spectacularly illuminated with a Chihuly flowerscape and into the 16 free art exhibits on the Cultural Trust's hip "Gallery Crawl," supplicants of the CLO queued up for "Oklahoma" at the Benedum Center, leggy noctambulists sipped 'tinis at watering holes whose windows opened wide to the sidewalk, and the promise of an alfresco party under city lights lured us to Cosmopolitan Pittsburgh.

The rooftop of the Theater Square complex was three deep in beautiful young things and art smarts who boogied past bold signage inviting them to DANCE, SIP, TASTE, CREATE, EXPLORE. And did they ever. Oh, and PARTNER, too ... with the Trust, of course. Leave it to the PCTrust to offer a breadth of fresh fare on Downtown living with a rookie event that should become a summer staple. At $50/tix for a terrific graze from District eateries, open bars and nary a single raffle ticket to buy or auction item to bid on, it was irresistible. Small wonder it sold out two weeks ago.

Bricolage Production actors staged snappy Scenes from a Car (think films like "Thelma & Louise") while fans, two by two, perked right up in the back seat of a Flexcar! Make that three Flexcars -- as in the new car-sharing program for members to reserve and drive whenever they wish.

One could consult the Cosmos through a tarot card reading, personalize a Cosmo glass and have it filled by Ladies for the Preservation of Endangered Cocktails, create a work of art with Cheryl Capezzut or become a work of art on a screen projecting Andy Warhol's images for, yes, a Polaroid souvenir. That's creativity that won't quit.

We wouldn't expect anything less from a planning committee of hot numeros who included Kelly and Tom Price ; Alyssa Sherman ; Susan and Sean McLaughlin ; Sheri Giger ; Jack Brice ; Emily Galbreth ; Angela Seals ; Kate Freed ; Julia and Andy Carlson ; Melissa Evans ; Doug Kassab ; Veronica Corpuz and Julie Nord .

Other bold-face names: PCT prez Kevin McMahon ; Pam and Ken McCrory ; Jessica Coup and Scott Bergsein ; CLO's Van Kaplan ; Brian Kokkila and mom Phyllis ; Jeff Pollock ; Charlotte and brother Brendan Kelly ; City Theatre's Tracy Brigden with Matte Braidic ; Rebecca Rhodes ; Juliet Grauer ; Sally Levin ; Jane Arkus ; Dr. Suzan Obagi and Mazen Youssef ; Selma and Leon Sherman ; Richard Rauh ; Cathy Lewis and Rob Long ; Craig McDonald and Dan Catanzaro ; Jeanne and Scotti Mulert ; and Sandy Pollock .

As well as Kate and Dave DeSimone ; Lynne Figgins ; Dr. Roxana Barad ; Margaret Baker ; Aldene Lacaria ; Thommy Conroy ; Bronwyn Loughren ; Jacob Bachrach ; Lorene and Denis Vinski ; Jan and Ernie Meade ; Richard Parsakian ; Alexandra Hendrickson ; Dr. Larry Leahy ; Jeff Poborsky ; Jane Yanosick and Nick Sfakianakis ; Charlie Pelegrini ; Katherine Krause ; Rona Nesbit ; Arlene and Barry Sokolow ; Jaclyn Scone ; and Heidi Speece .

With This Ring

The sound of wedding bells rang out over the manicured hills and dales of Sewickley Heights as lovely Dr. Verna Burchard Corey was wed to industrialist and social pillar William Penn "Bill" Snyder III , who can trace his roots to Pennsylvania's first governor, Simon Snyder . A native Pittsburgher, the bride grew up on CMU's campus, where her father was a Dean for many years. She was dressed in a creamy silk ensemble lined in pale peach by designer Mark Heister .

The short ceremony began with a witty reading on marriage by Ogden Nash and concluded with a Native American wedding blessing. Surrounded by their friends and family from New York, Boston, Phoenix and Key West, the couple happily exchanged vows at Wilpen Hall, the Snyder family estate that was built by Bill's grandfather in 1898. His son, James Brandon Snyder , and grandson, William Penn Snyder V , stood for Bill at the ceremony officiated by a friend, chaplain Barbara Graham , of Colorado Springs. Dr. Corey's sister-in-law, Betsy Burchard of Tempe, AZ, and formerly of Pittsburgh, was her attendant; Leslie Oden Dunn , of Pittsburgh, gave away the bride, who is keeping her own name. A delightful reception followed at Wilpen Hall, where the couple is now living.

A former chairman of the board of trustees of Allegheny Health, Education and Research Foundation, Bill was a leader in the group that shaped Pittsburgh's first Renaissance. His grandfather, William Penn Snyder , founded the mighty Shenango Furnace Company in 1906.

Citizen Kane

"Life is not a goal, it's a journey. And what a journey it's been for 46 years," beamed Joe Kane , the always impeccable general manager of the Westin Convention Center hotel, Downtown. With his retirement slated for June 30, the media has treated us to stories of the hotelier's long and brilliant career which began precociously at age 19 as night auditor of the Pittsburgh Hilton & Towers until he became G.M. ... and continued meteorically to the top hotels in other major markets. But Pittsburgh was always his heartland.

Tuesday's hush-hush, very posh retirement bash for 200 industry hot shots, friends and family (Joe's the eighth of 12 children) was hosted by his colleagues in the Westin ballroom. "There's not a single person here who doesn't think you should be mayor of the city," declared emcee Jim Roddey to roaring applause.

Frances , his stunning bride of 44 years, figures prominently in the legacy. While Joe was firing up his people to exceed themselves, founding the baccalaureate program of Hospitality Management at Robert Morris University and planning the design of the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Frances was raising their three sons and chairing or working on the charity ball circuit.

Joe's brothers, sisters and actor son Sean (in from NYC) were in the crowd. As were Skal's Howard Huzzard and Bob Page (Skal established an annual Joe Kane Scholarship Benefit Golf Outing that will bring him back every year!); Tom Martini , Joe's hand-picked successor at the Westin; Rick Staab ; Steve Monteverde ; Bob Imperata ; Joe McGrath ; Tom Hardy ; Jim Agras ; Louis Lipps and Leah Owens ; Paul Ramsdell ; Dee Bold ; Jack and Rick Purcell ; Joe Salandra ; Faye Sampson and Dennis Huber ; John Kartsonas ; and Catherine with host Gordon Seaman , G.M of the Sheraton Station Square, who confided, "Joe's a hard act to follow, but the hospitality industry would follow him anywhere."

Happy trails in Orlando, good buddies.

Picnic in the Glass

A dazzling visual experience, Chihuly's Gardens and Glass, awaited guests at Thursday's Summer Picnic at Phipps Conservatory, an exhibit that's breaking all records in attendance. Trustees Hall was bedecked with tables that spilled onto the stunning patio outdoors, all delightfully flowered in the colors of Chihuly's sculptures by Gary and Candy Davis and smartly catered by La Cr�me. Hosted by the Parkinson's Chapter of Greater Pittsburgh , the fundraiser's clarion call was about bringing hope to life for those living with Parkinson's disease.

Nancy Scarton and Sue Fuhrer (Dick Scarton, who was Nancy's husband and Sue's dad, recently lost his battle with the dread disease) co-chaired the evening of fabulous sights, tastes and hope for a cure, where we spotted chapter prez Tom Pandaleon ; Jane and Pete Love with son George ; Susie Franklin ; Judy and Bill Knoell ; Irv Popkin ; Emma and J udge Gustave Diamond ; Jim Cordy ; Joanne and Dick Beyer ; Betsy and Mike Marcu ; Marsha and John Bingler ; Abby and Howdy Emery ; Drs. Carrie and Eugene Bonaroti ; Sue and Mark Gleason ; Carole and Dr. Richard Heppner ; and Ginny Merchant with Jim Brainard .

The Secret is Out

Guests in seersucker and garden frocks unlocked the secrets of one of five Fox Chapel gardens at Audubon Society's Secret Garden Party & Tour on Saturday. Like Jan Beresford's acre of delight replete with sparkling blue pool, faux 18th century English spring house, gardener's potting gazebo and a running stream. Wine glasses in hand, they meandered through the oval garden, down wooded paved pathways and around the English garden of lavender, delphiniums and foxglove.

Then off to Beechwood Farms Nature Reserve for a cool and peachy Magnolia Warbler (the drink, not the bird, darlings), scrumptilious food from Common Plea and keyboard musings of Adam Levine . Walter Jones , water colorist and long-time ASWP volunteer, was guest of honor in summer plaid.

A silent auction (offering cords of wood and bird walks for this earthy crowd) and a live auction, livened up by Sally Wiggin , helped raise $50,000 for the cause. All five Secret Gardens were available to Sunday tour-goers.

Other nature lovers included event chair Allison Burgan with Hardie ; ASWP director James Bonner with Leslie ; Bill Cooley and Cynthia ; Patty and Sean Casey ; Nancy and Dan Fales ; co-chairs Charlotte George and Lucila Andrich ; Heather Chronis ; Emily Fawcett ; Frances and James Hardie ; and Alison and Ann Wardrop .

-- Karen Becket

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