Out & About: 10 great parties in Westmoreland County in 2016
The Out & About crew wishes we could have attended every fabulous event that happened in 2016 in Westmoreland County, where the social scene was bigger and better than ever before.
But we made it to quite a few. Following is a nod to 10 especially notable events.
The first four were either one-of-a-kind, new or reinvented from previous years. The other six tried-and-true events marked significant milestones and once again proved their popularity with area galagoers.
The Westmoreland's Big Art Party
It was big, there was art and — oh, my — did they party at the Big Art Party at The Westmoreland Museum of American Art, marking a year of operation since the major expansion and renovation project.
With more than 400 attending, there was partying upstairs, partying downstairs and partying on the stairs at Greensburg's flagship art venue.
The evening kicked off with VIP cocktail-and-canapes, followed by the main event with more spirits, food stations, art projects, performers interpreting paintings from the museum's collection, a silent disco and a closing set by Pittsburgh band Lovebettie.
Black Tie, Baby!
Westmoreland/Frick Hospital Foundation's annual Star Light Black Tie Bingo morphed this year into a “Black Tie, Baby!” night of casino games, dining and dancing. The retooled revels took place at Greensburg Country Club.
Ten-month-old Lily Safin stole the show at the appropriately named benefit for Family Additions Maternity Center at Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital. Parents Dave and Kate Safin of Manor said Lily's unexpected breech birth came with a happy ending because of the care she and Mom received in the center.
Derby Day for Charity
For three years, the Derby Day party at Oak Lodge near Stahlstown raised funds for a national charity. This year, organizers decided to partner with the local Old Joe Club Charities Inc. under the new Lil Joe's Society of Support (SOS).
Committee president Jo Rossi said funds raised in previous years were “a small sum to a large national nonprofit. But by donating the funds to small local nonprofits, it will make a bigger impact.”
Otherwise, the event kept its familiar Derby Day trappings: great hats, mint juleps and cigars, pre-race wagering and a surf-and-turf dinner followed by pecan-chocolate-bourbon Kentucky Derby pie.
West Overton's Blind Pig Party
After a century-long hiatus, West Overton Museums near Scottdale is planning to bring a whiskey distillery back to its property with the ultimate goal of making the historic site a regional tourist destination. A first-time sold-out Blind Pig Party raised funds for the project.
Revelers enjoyed a pig roast, eight varieties of beer, raffles, casino-style games and music by The Weathered Road from Pittsburgh. Attendees included a pair of 8-week-old piglets brought along by a local farmer.
Party at the Palace
It's a perennial big event, but the Party at the Palace Theater was especially big, as it marked the beginning of the Greensburg landmark's 90th anniversary celebration. Starting with a champagne toast on stage, the revels continued with more food and drink and performances by local theater groups.
Having been saved from the wrecking ball in 1990 by the Westmoreland Cultural Trust, the county's entertainment mecca continues to provide a stage for everything from music and magic to dance and drama.
St. Vincent Summer Theatre Gala
The 27th annual gala marked the 48th season of professional theater at St. Vincent College in Unity. More than 250 gala attendees were treated to a performance of “Cole: An Entertainment Based on the Words and Music of Cole Porter.”
A gleaming 1934 Packard parked outside, art deco flourishes and wine-bottle centerpieces decorated with feathers and pearls were reminiscent of the heyday of the prolific composer and songwriter known for “Night and Day” and “I've Got You Under My Skin.”
Chefs' Table Argentina
Argentina was the culinary destination for the Westmoreland College Educational Foundation's 30th annual Chefs' Table at the Youngwood campus. The sold-out seven-course meal featured sassy South American dishes prepared and served by students from the culinary arts and hospitality programs under the direction of faculty members.
While Ray Flowers, chef-owner of Sun Dawg Cafe in Greensburg, and Edward Nagy, district executive chef for Aramark at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., were inducted into the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality Hall of Fame, news spread that the culinary school had been named tops in Pennsylvania and 40th in the nation by Best Choice Schools.
Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra Hat Luncheon
From a couture chapeau purchased in Paris to a homemade Penguins Stanley Cup tribute “Hat Trick,” the styles were surprising and delightful at the 15th annual Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra Hat Luncheon at the Greensburg Country Club.
Attendees agreed that half the fun was comparing hats and learning their stories. Attendee June Anton admitted that a little weather stripping was deployed inside her wide-brim hat to improve the fit.
A mimosa reception, violin selections and a silent auction topped off the day.
CASA of Westmoreland Inc. Fall Gala
“Celebrating a Decade of Advocacy, 2006-2016” was the theme for the black-tie event at a private club near Ligonier. The gala kicked off with a video retrospective, followed by a toast and remarks by Judge Christopher Feliciani, founder of the local CASA organization which provides assistance to children in the family court system because of abuse and/or neglect.
Under glittering crystal chandeliers, guests dined on scallops and filet of beef. For fun, there was a mystery-box prize and dancing to the music of Protégé.
Latrobe Art Center's Yellow Tie Gala
For the fifth year, Downtown Latrobe went bananas in late August with a Great American Banana Split Celebration, paying homage to the summertime favorite created at a local pharmacy in 1904. Latrobe Art Center joined in with an Yellow Tie Gala.
The fun spilled out of the center onto Ligonier Street, where yellow-clad guests sat at yellow-topped tables or got up to boogie with Neon Swing X-perience. Those needing a cool-down could pop back inside for a banana split served up at the very counter where the first one was made, which emerges from storage every year for the gala.
Shirley McMarlin is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach her at 724-836-5750 or firstname.lastname@example.org.