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Fanfare: Royal Reception

| Monday, June 26, 2006

Alors ... the Eiffel Tower, Moulin Rouge and Montmarte, Sacre Couer and sacre bleu ! Joe Hardy stormed the Bastille for the Royal Reception XVI , a magic carpet ride from London to Paris, the city of lights and sights, this past weekend.

Ever since Joe purchased the title of Lord of the Manor of Henley-in-Arden, a wee village in England, he has marked the event every year with a fete attended by dukes, duchesses, barons and baronesses. Titled or to the manor bought, they're all Joe's friends and, as such, are pomped, circumstanced and feted. Royally. As were the 450 swells who romped at Nemacolin Woodlands Resort & Spa , his palatial playground in the Laurel Highlands.

Philanthropist, Fayette County commissioner and founder of 84 Lumber, Joe has raised the bar on pampering, haute cuisine, championship golfing, art and entertainment. Because his idea of gracious living means fit for a king, Nemacolin has won every award and star in the industry.

Friday began with a private reception in Joe's art-filled abode as Maggie Hardy Magerko (with Pete ), the power behind the throne as prez of Nemacolin and 84 Lumber, joined her father to graciously welcome guests as they were, oyez, announced by the town crier. Le hands down, stunning Maggie turned every head in a sleek red strapless column and a suite of sparklers.

Guests were whisked back to an exquisite English country garden setting whose piece de resistance was a pair of stilt-walking vine mimes who gracefully led us into a magnifique three-story pavilion for the sumptuous wine and dine that followed. Every dish served, and thousands came through, was superb. While lavish table settings changed with each sitting, as did the royal bouquets by Neubauer Flowers of Uniontown.

Showtime brought dreamboat crooner Harry Connick Jr. and his 14-piece New Orleans band to center stage for a cornucopia of musical joy. Fresh from his fabulous triumph on Broadway in "The Pajama Game," his jazzy riffs on the grand piano, the size of Maggie's diamond pendant, had the blissed-out audience on their feet yelling for more.

Saturday morning and Old Glory teamed with the Union Jack to fly over the Royal Procession and the brunch that followed with Nova Era's classical vibe. Lord of the rich and famous, Robin Leach , emceed over the festivities, as he has done for all 16 of the parties Hardy.

Black-tie was the dress code for the really big party, and the damsels looked like French pastries. The setting had changed to Cafe Moulin Rouge, with servers in berets and striped shirts proferring flutes of bubbly and fluted hors d'oeuvres. In the ne plus ultra department, huge baroque frames floating overhead flashed Parisian scenes. The Nemacolin Collection staged a stunning fashion show through dinner that also showcased acrobatic performances by Cirque Royale and, mais oui , a finale Can Can! Then Earth, Wind & Fire blasted us out of our over-fed reverie with a spectacular repertoire of soul, rock and pop.

A portion of reception proceeds will benefit the Penn State Dance Marathon (THON), the nation's oldest student-run philanthropy that supports pediatric cancer care at Penn State Children's Hospital in Hershey.

Hear ye and peek ye at the guest list. The Hardy clan: Shirley and Joe Hardy IV , Bonnie and Paul Hardy , Todd Hardy and Steve Pringle , Bob and Robin Hardy Freed , Kathy Hardy Drake , and Tammy and Alex Hardy ; Lord Peter Palumbo ; Lori and Kevin Maloney ; Gary and Vickie Morrell ; Cate and Mike Linn ; Jane and Bill Conover ; Veronica and Lou Guarino ; Patty and Dr. John Martinelli ; Patty and Bill Snoddy (celebrating their 46th anniversary!) with Shelly Snoddy and Jim Parey ; Lisa and Bob Pompeani ; Lou Haddad ; Mary Jean and Jeff Nobers ; Monsignor Ed McCullough ; Marie Martin and Becky ; Nancy and Chris Spina ; Drs. Lisa Cibik and Jack Kraus ; Bob Davis ; Catherine and Richard Frontz ; and Gretchen and Christopher Corrado .

Also practicing their royal waves were Joe Ferens ; Lynelle and Chip Young ; Whit Snyder and Lauralee Zelesnak ; Jeff Nanni of "Capitol File"; Carol and Dr. Corrado Cataldo ; Debbie and Gordon Giffin ; Cameron Neth; Jean and Bill Hauber ; Ruth and Stan Lefkowitz (marking his 75th b-day!); Debra and Dr. David Murello ; Linda and Russ Nairn ; Rebecca and Jim Wessel ; Ann and Stan Bell ; Kay Maghan ; Judy and Jim Gladieux ; Lisa and Mox Irmscher ; Alexis Odachowski and Greg Morrell ; Susan and Paul Read ; Lorie Golden and Tuffy Shallenberger ; Edith Hughes and granddaughter Faith Collins celebrating her 15th b'day; and Henley-in-Arden High Baliff (mayor) Douglas Bridgewater and wife Susan .

C'est magnifique!

Perennial Favorite

George Washington never slept here. And owner Daniel Leet never actually lived on the 10-acre Edgeworth estate known as Newington. But the meticulously manicured gardens on the historic home's grounds hosted Saturday's 10th annual Sewickley Garden Gala to benefit the Pittsburgh AIDS Task Force .

Now owned by Ellen and Jay Brooks , Newington has been home for seven generations of the Brooks family since Leet acquired the land as payment for serving with the nation's first president in the Revolutionary War. As his ancestors added on to the original home built in 1816, they also cultivated the estate's 10 gardens -- the first of which dates to 1823. But this al fresco fete kept an eye on the future as it raised more than $50,000 to provide much-needed services to PATF's clients.

Among the 350 guests were tour founder and chair Natasha Green ; PATF board prez Dr. Larry Leahy ; director Kathi Boyle ; Helen and Don Berman ; Bob Kmetz and Frank Czuri ; Carol Maurin and Bob Feikma ; Francois Bitz ; Julie Morris ; Beth and Ken Rom; Lisa and Dennis Pegden ; Richard Parsakian ; Deb and Mark Zappala ; Hugh Beswick ; Beth and Tom Pastorius ; and Melissa Farlow and Randy Olson .

-- John Altdorfer

Sweet Music

Every song was an ode to joy as the young talents of The Woodlands wowed an audience of 300 during Friday's " Notes From the Heart ."

Orchestrated by Charlie Gray and a trio of maestros -- former Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra conductors Lucas Richman and Edward Cumming and choirmaster Andrew Clark -- this musical celebration struck an immediate emotional chord as the 44 physically disabled but determined youngsters made their entrance to the "Star Wars" theme. Among the standout performers were Maura Kegg on the national anthem, cellist Dominika Oliver , vocalist Libby Powers and harmonica player George Casselberry .

Of course, the kids stole the show, which was exactly the intention of camp co-founder Dr . Don Reigel (with Gay ) and Sydelle Kessler , whose late husband, Dr. Laibe Kessler, helped turn Don Reigel's dream into a reality. Enjoying every amazing grace note were Woodlands prez Peter Clakely ; Judy and Bill Aiken ; Ceci Sommers ; Martha and Ted Fithian ; Priscilla and Jake Mowrey ; Suzie and Tim Williams ; Kris and Jim Menegazzi with Rachel ; Marilyn Dahlgren ; Bette King; Bruce and Connie Morrison with son Drew and wife Karen ; Lisa and Adam Kessler ; and Kay Stolarefsky .

-- John Altdorfer

Pastapalooza

Mamma mia. Such a tough job, but someone has to do it. Fanfare stepped up to the plate for A Taste of Pittsburgh's Pasta , the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society 's ciao -down at the U.S. Steel Plaza that raised $20,000 (on a $9 ticket!) to close in on a cure for cancer.

Just a taste• Not likely, with 12 ristorantes competing for the gold medal while dishing basta pasta for over 1,000 paesani . The judges who shared Thursday's fork-twirling tasks were Ann Haigh ; Pennsylvania Culinary Institute's (and Food Olympics judge!) Scott Fetty ; and (ahem) Trib food editor Karin Welzel .

Leading the pesto posse for the best overall dish was Bravo! Cucina Italiana for its delicioso Pasta Bravo. Call it penne from heaven, because the lunch bunch also voted it numero uno .

Basking in the sunshine and humming along to Jimmy Sapienza and Five Guys Named Moe were such as John Cigna on the bocce court; Kate Marsh of lead sponsor Heinz; Jeanne Caligiuri ; Jan Benzinger ; Melissa Tsaggaris and Domenic Corso ; Carl Vulcan ; L&LS director George Omiros ; Andy Wisniewski ; Judy Kaplan ; Maureen Durkin ; Tony Cosnotti ; Ida D'Errico ; Zachary Tucker ; Apryle Flinko ; and Charles Page .

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