2014's best galas include the Red Out party at Greensburg's Palace Theatre
Have you been home alone some nights wondering what the “cool kids” are doing? In 2014, many of the cool kids of Westmoreland County and environs showed up at these events, or others like them: receptions, galas, indoor and outdoor parties where people meet to see and be seen, to talk and laugh, to eat and drink and, most importantly, to support good causes. Many more deserve a mention than space allows, so these Out & About Top Five events of 2014 have been chosen to represent all the events that pique the public interest and add to our area's quality of life. In 2015, you might want to step out and join in.
Shirley McMarlin is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5750 or email@example.com.
Red Out Cocktail Party
The color red serves multiple purposes in February, among them being the signature color of Heart Month. Greensburg's Palace Theatre was decked in shades from rose to ruby for this February event hosted by the Heart Center at Excela Health, which aimed to raise awareness of heart disease in women and the value of preventive medicine in maintaining heart health. It also served as a kickoff for a new Mall Walkers program at Excela Square at Norwin, to complement the popular monthly session in Westmoreland Mall. After the party, more than 250 guests had the opportunity to move from the Megan Intermission Suite to the auditorium for an early Valentine's Day concert by the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra. Musicians also exchanged traditional performance blacks for red attire to perform the ever-popular music of George Gershwin.
Heart of the Arts Gala
It was apparent from searchlights raking the winter night sky that something special was going on in Greensburg's Palace Theatre. Leave it to a group of actors to create a spectacle, which, in this case, was the annual gala presented by Stage Right! School for the Performing Arts and Professional Theatre Company. Various parts of the theater were transformed into a casino, a bistro, an auction house, a coffee bar and, of course, space for random outbreaks of entertainment. The annual Heart of the Arts Award was bestowed on Roderick Booker of Greensburg, who deemed it both a surprise and a great honor — although it was hardly surprising to those familiar with his long resume as retired Hempfield Area High School music department chair and band director, Westmoreland County Community College associate professor of music and director of various WCCC and community music groups.
Denim & Diamonds Gala
When supporters of the Westmoreland Symphony Orchestra plan an event, you can bet it will be both sophisticated and sassy, which perfectly describes this first-ever event in the Greensburg Country Club. Guests were invited to jazz up their jeans or dress down their diamonds and other designer duds and dance the night away to Gary Racan and the Studio E Band, joined by members of the symphony. Steering committee member Linda Assard said the chance to do something daring and different drew a crowd larger than the previous year's Spring Rhapsody fundraiser. The beaded and bejeweled looks were varied and inventive, from retro to trendy and everything in between. Adding to the fun was an auction of items such as a platinum-diamond-amethyst ring, an African safari, a Colorado mountain getaway and a Sidney Crosby playoff-game hockey stick.
Fred Rogers Legacy Award Reception
It would be a big deal to have world-renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma in the area, no matter what the occasion, so it was doubly significant that he visited to receive the inaugural Fred Rogers Legacy Award from the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children's Media at St. Vincent College. Also a recipient of the Presidential Medal of Freedom, Ma said the legacy award, presented by Rogers' widow, Joanne, “is perhaps the greatest honor I've ever received.” The evening culminated in a recital in St. Vincent Basilica for the heady list of reception guests and center patrons, which Ma concluded by accompanying monks from the archabbey in a heavenly version of the “Benedictine Ultima” hymn. The event, which also celebrated the center's tenth anniversary, raised $1 million for scholarships and fellowships.
Dancing With the Celebrities
A popular television dance contest was the obvious inspiration for this extravaganza, in its second year of supporting the Western Westmoreland County and Greater Greensburg Faith in Action programs. Upward of 450 guests jammed the Greensburg Ramada Hotel and Conference Center to tap their toes as area notables paired with dance professionals to trip the light fantastic in search of the top prizes. The Prestigious Judges' Award went to the quickstep performed by Karen Struble Myers and Joe O'Brien. Other top dancers were Sister Judy Laffey and John Foley, first for a waltz incorporating liturgical dance moves and featuring four members of the Sisters of Charity of Seton Hill; Nick Pflugh and Khrystal Gresko, second for a mambo/salsa; and Andrew Ferri and Lisa Pope, third for the jive.