Fairmount Park Conservancy 8th Annual Centennial Celebration

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More than 500 park supporters attended the Fairmount Park Conservancy’s 8th Annual Centennial Celebration held at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center last night. This year’s honorees included John Crowe, president and CEO of, Saint-Gobain and CertainTeed Corporations, for corporate leadership; Kathleen McGinty, chief of staff to Governor Tom Wolf and a longtime environmentalist, for civic leadership; and Chris Matthews, host of Hardball on MSNBC (which includes a tree planted in his honor at Belmont Plateau), as the John Binswanger Park Champion. Crowe’s Saint-Gobain is one of the main sponsors of The Oval; it will kick off the summer season and commemorate the company’s 350th anniversary with a never-before-seen global exhibition, “Future Sensations,” which will make its only U.S. tour stop at The Oval from May 30th through June 6th.

Kristen Welker, NBC News White House Correspondent, was a great master of ceremonies, filling in for Andrea Mitchell, who was on the Hillary Clinton trail. Welker was grateful to be back in her hometown with her mother and among friends in the park where she played softball as a kid.

Photos from the Fairmount Park Conservancy Gala after the jump »

Bank and Bourbon Donors Choose Benefit

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Last night Bank and Bourbon hosted their inaugural Bourbon Bash at the restaurant. Over 300 people came out to Chef Thomas Harkin’s delicious fare, and enjoy spirits generously sponsored by Southern Wine & Spirits and curated by their own bourbon master Brian Bevilacqua. Bank and Bourbon has gotten rave reviews for their menu since the Loews Hotel eatery opened a year ago, which is probably why the place was so packed last night. It was a ticketed, all-you-can-eat steak-and-bourbon party for $49, which benefited Donors Choose — a charity through which teachers request classroom materials and donors choose who to donate to. Bank and Bourbon’s GM Sean Glancy hopes to make this an annual event, attracting more people and raising more money for charity.
Photos after the jump »

Please Touch Museum’s Storybook Ball

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The Please Touch Museum held its annual Storybook Ball on Saturday April 25th to benefit the museum’s literacy programming for young children. Families were encouraged to dress as their favorite storybook characters or superhero. It was an evening of enchantment with entertainment and family-friendly cuisine, like hot dogs, burgers and pizza catered by Brûlée Catering. For dessert, there was ice cream and pudding.

Kids enjoyed rides on the carousel, and theatrical and musical performances by Baby Loves Disco. Special guest appearances included story book readings by Sarah Bloomquist of 6ABC and Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, a children’s book author who read from her book Tyrannosaurus Wrecks. Magician Tom McDonnell was on hand with lots of sleight of hand, card tricks and friendly rabbits. This year there were a lot of characters roaming about including Wild Thing, Ryan Lion, Curious George, Paddington Bear, Baby Mouse, Prince Charming and of course Cinderella.

Photos from the Storybook Ball after the jump »

The First Annual Rad Girl Rad Awards

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Last year Leah Kaufman founded Rad-Girls.com, a digital platform that celebrates innovative and inspiring women making a difference in Philly. This year they hosted their first ever awards ceremony and celebration to honor local inspiring female leaders in the fields of technology, media, culture and business.

The Rad Awards were held at The Dreaming Building in Northern Liberties, an innovative co-working space for artists and young entrepreneurs. The venue was “rad” itself as the building filled with many of the nominees and supporters, allowing just a sliver of a stage for the awards to be given out.

The focus of the evening was on networking and celebration. The spirits flowed with speciality cocktails from Bluecoat American Dry Gin and light fare from Rouge (who knew they catered?). Music from DJ Diamond Girl kept the crowd grooving before and after the ceremony.

Photos and the full list of Rad Award winners after the jump »

BalletX Gala at Top of the Tower

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On April 16th BalletX hosted its fundraiser gala on the 50th floor at the Top of the Tower, 1717 Arch Street. Guests gathered just in time to catch the sun setting over the the city in celebration of another successful year of BalletX; they dined on a buffet from Top of the Tower catering and enjoyed specialty drinks including the XMopolitian which was made with Pravada Citron Vodka.

In nine years the company has produced more than 55 world premiere ballets exploring relevant, emotional and honest happenings of the world. During the evening several new BalletX works were performed including Edgar Anido‘s “Mis Amigos, My Friends, Mes Amis “ — with Richard Villaverde and Zachary Kapeluck, and Amy Seiwert‘s “It’s Not A Cry” — with Villaverde and Chloe Felesina. The company also honored friends and supporters Linda and David Glickstein and Jeanne Fisher.

Photos after the jump »

Blingo at the Rittenhouse Hotel

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Saturday night the Rittenhouse Hotel was the scene of a lively bingo game — except that the guests were not the blue-haired ladies  I’m used to playing with. The night was called Blingo, as every winning card won a prize that was blinged-out, with proceeds from the evening going to find a cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy, a rare, fatal disease which afflicts only boys, usually by the age of 5, most of whom die in their 20s.

Mistress of ceremonies for the evening was WMMR’s Marisa Magnatta who assisted in the Blingo games with local celebrities John Bolaris of WeatherSavior.com, comedian Joe Conklin, former Philadelphia Eagles quarterback A.J. Feeley, CBS3’s Stephanie Stahl and former Gov. Ed Rendell,who called out the numbers for Blingo. Jesse and Beka Rendell, along with Sonal and Manu Gambhir, were co-hosts of the gala. During the program the Gambhir’s son, 13-year-old Yuva Gambhir, who has Duchenne and is in a wheelchair, spoke on how the disease affects his life.

His body may be weak, but his mind is sharp, he said, and he talked about the future cure which was just on the horizon. We were all smiling through our tears during his speech.

Photos from Blingo after the jump »

WDAS Women of Excellence Luncheon With Mary J. Blige

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On Saturday, WDAS held its First Annual Women of Excellence Luncheon and paid tribute to the “Sheroes” who are essential contributors to the Tri-State Area. Surprise guest Mary J. Blige received this year’s WDAS Trailblazing Woman of Excellence Award — which will be renamed next year the “Mary J. Blige Woman of Excellence Award.”

The afternoon’s Sheroes included:
Faatimah Gamble, Universal Companies
Susan Slawson, Commissioner, City of Philadelphia
Sheinelle Jones, News Anchor, Weekend Today
Dr. Robin L. Smith, Relationships Expert
Tanya R. Hill-Holliday, McDonald’s Owner
Sister Margaret McKenna
Movita Johnson-Harrell
Rochelle Yates Whittington
Rhonda E. Willingham

At the event there were performances by Kenny Lattimore, Johnny Gill and Tamar Braxton, who all wowed the crowd at the five-hour luncheon at the First District Plaza in West Philadelphia.

Photos after the jump »

The Vesper Club Friends and Family Party

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Last night I attended a friends-and-family party at The Vesper Club, an old drinking establishment reimagined as a classy, modern twist on a private dinner club. Vesper, located at 223 S Sydenham St. (the alley that runs between Walnut and Locust, just above 15th Street), was founded in 1941 as one of the premier private supper clubs until it closed last year. Now reopened under new ownership, the three-level club offers lots of options: a main dining room, two bar areas, several lounges, and room where live music will be played and dancing is encouraged. On the third floor is an event space which can be rented out for parties. The remodeled club has retained some of its yesteryear glamour, from the flooring in the main bar — where the original Vesper insignia tile remains — to the Philadelphia mural which people always marveled at, to the original basement bar which is now known as the “speakeasy.” (To get down there you have to know the password which allows the hidden staircase to be revealed behind the bookshelf.) The Vesper Club officially opens on Monday, April 13th, at 4 p.m. To see more photos of the inside of the club check out PhillyChitChat.com today.

Photos from the Vesper Club Friends and Family Party after the jump »

Shane Victorino Foundation Private Fundraiser and Dinner

Chef Luke Palladino, Kristine Kurilko, Melissa and Shane Victorino.

At the Phillies home opener on Monday, the fans gave former Phillie and current Boston Red Sox star Shane Victorino an extended standing ovation for his first time back at Citizen Bank Park since being traded to the Dodgers in 2012. Shane told me he really appreciated the love given to him. Last night he and his wife, Melissa Victorino, hosted friends at an intimate dinner at Palladino’s on East Passyunk. About 45 people attended the private dinner party prepared by chef Luke Palladino, a fundraiser for the Shane Victorino Nicetown Boys & Girls Club, which the Shane Victorino Foundation helped renovate with a million-dollar donation in 2011. The proceeds from the dinner and raffle items will go toward supplies and sporting equipment for the kids. Shane and Melissa told me that Philadelphia would always be their adopted hometown: They have many friends in the area, visit occasionally and still maintain a house here. Wouldn’t it be great if he retired a Phillies player?

Photos from the Shane Victorino Foundation dinner and fundraiser after the jump »

Philadelphia Academies Inc.’s “The Party”

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Thursday night the Philadelphia Academies, Inc. threw their annual shindig “The Party” with 300 guests filling the Fringe Arts/La Peg Brasserie building at 40 N. Columbus Blvd. The theme this year was “Out of the Box,” which Lisa Nutter, President of Philadelphia Academies, Inc. (PAI, ) and First Lady of Philadelphia, says is about creating a career by following your own path, even if it doesn’t fit society’s norm. PAI supports Philadelphia public school students with career-focused programs that prepare young people for employment and post-secondary education, and student ambassadors from Roxborough and Abraham Lincoln high schools were on hand to espouse the virtues of the program.

During the event, David L. Cohen, executive vice president of Comcast, accepted PAI’s The Party 2015 Stand and Deliver Award in recognition of the company’s commitment to innovation. Also honored were 2015 honorary chairs David Devan — general director, Opera Philadelphia, and Seun Olubodun, owner, Duke and Winston. PECO was presented with an Academy Award, for the company’s deep commitment to the PAI model, accepted by Mary Krick, PECO’s vice president of human resources; as was ESM Productions in recognition of the agency being a long-standing partner of PAI, accepted by ESM president Scott Mirkin. After the program, guests enjoyed delicious food, spirits, and dancing by the dueling DJs.

Photos from Philadelphia Academies Inc.’s “The Party”

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