On the Town With HughE Dillon

How to get your portrait at The Palm; Plus: Brian Tierney and Robert Hall at the same party (awkward, anyone?); Bill Gates comes to town; and everyone was at The Party

As some folks were heading down to Washington D.C. for the National Correspondents Dinner, Virginia for the Gold Cup, or Kentucky for the Derby, Philly was gearing up for another action-packed weekend with charity events, parties and social gatherings. My weekend started on Thursday, and by the time everything was said and done, I had attended 10 events. Whew. On Thursday evening, Bill Gates, founder of Microsoft, was given one of the Franklin Institute Awards. The Franklin Institute Awards are among the oldest and most prestigious comprehensive science awards in the world, and identify individuals whose great innovation has benefited humanity, advanced science, launched new fields of inquiry, and deepened our understanding of the universe. Attendees included Comcast owners Ralph and Suzanne Roberts, and Aileen and Brian Roberts, as well as Dianne Semingson, Marsha Perelman (chair of the Franklin Institute), Fred and Laura Parker, social writer/photographer Susan Scovill and husband Curtis Scovill, and social writer/photographer Carol Springer. I wonder what it was like to have Philadelphia Media Holdings’ Brian Tierney and the new owner and CEO of the Philadelphia Newspapers, Robert Hall, in the same room? Only a day earlier the two had battled for control of the two largest newspapers in Philadelphia, and then they both attend the same gala. Brian and Maud Tierney before they ascend the red-carpet stairs to the Franklin Institute last Thursday.[SIGNUP]

Friday night brought me to the Steppingstone Scholars’ Step Into Spring gala, held at one of my favorite locations, the Please Touch Museum. The goal of Steppingstone Scholars in Philadelphia is to prepare the scholars for top college prep schools. More than $385,000 was raised, not including the silent auction items, for which the bidding was fierce. Above: Nina Weisbord, Steppingstone Scholars president, and Connie Williams, board chair, greeting guests in the beautifully decorated main hall. I’m told that Kathy Patty Warden, from Table Art, was the event decorator, and I thought her work was breathtaking.  Nina Weisbord, Shari Williams, Jaimie Field and Stacey Spector. Senator Tony Williams, who is running for governor, was nearby.
Loved the fashion that night … more colors than the always-in-style black. Deborah Glass, Steppingstone board member Pia Roy Chowdhury, event honoree Dennis Glass (CEO and president of Lincoln Financial Group), and Steppingstone director of development Kendra Kirk. Other attendees included Joe Watkins, MSNBC reporter, Kennie Bakali, Gwendolyn Barnes, Marcello Luzi, Gregory Seitter, and Wanda and Patrick Paul.


Not only was Saturday May Day, but it was a very busy social day with stops at the Rittenhouse Row Festival, a run to Torre‘s to pick up my Radnor Hunt outfit, and then over to my friend Matt Carter‘s house for a Kentucky Derby party. Matt, who’s a fantastic cook (and a producer for Nancy Glass Productions), always does a nice spread. The theme was “a picnic for the ponies.” Some of the food: a pony-shaped corn bread, fried chicken drumsticks, Benedictine sandwiches, prosciutto puffs, and (my favorite) a roasted beet and avocado salad. Cocktails: mint juleps, Pimm’s Cups, and mojitos. Matt and his roommates live in a loft that formerly housed the Christ Evangelical & Reformed Church.  Many of the guests included his Penn alum friends, as well as Katie Bergen, who he went to West High School with in Madison, Wisconsin. Katie just moved to town a few months ago and is enjoying getting to know the city.

Co-hosts for the Kentucky Derby party Annika Eiremo and Matt Carter, with friends Andrew Rosenthal and Elise Gilbert. Annika and Matt began cooking for the Saturday soiree last Saturday. Congrats to my friend Andrew who was just accepted into the Harvard Business School class of 2012.

Brandon Russell, who works with Matt at Nancy Glass Productions stopped by. You may remember him as the sexy carpenter from Trading Spaces (2007-2008). He’s in town filming a new show for A&E called Drill Team. Getting into the Derby spirit, some of the ladies wore hats; Paula Aranda adorned hers with live gerber daisies. Also dressed in their Derby best: Sophie Fitzgerald, Lauren Blute, Megan Horrigan and Anne Mainardi.
Saturday night, May 1, brought me to the Philadelphia Academies fundraiser at the Water Works Restaurant in Fairmount Park. Honorary chairs Nicole Miller, Tony Danza, Bud Konheim, and Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson were on for “The Party,” which started with a VIP cocktail party at 5:30 p.m. and continued on after midnight.

Philadelphia Academies provides academic support, and life skills and career education to 4,500 Philadelphia public high school students annually.  Mayor Michael Nutter, Tony Danza, Ahmir “?uestlove” Thompson, a guest, and Lisa J. Nutter, president of Philadelphia Academies. Although Danza seemed much more friendly than the last time I saw him at the Red Ball, he still would not pose with “fans,” telling them that then everyone would want a picture too. That goes for Anastasia Karloutsos, co-owner of Water Works Restaurant, whose request for a snapshot was rejected.

Attorneys Christina Saler (Kohn, Swift & Graf), and husband John Saler (Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young). Christina volunteered for the silent auction committee and brought together quite an impressive list of unique items. My favorite was Oatmeal with Mayor Nutter at City Hall. As the bidding slowed down for the item, the mayor piped up that he would even take off his suit jacket, and the price jumped up to $2,000. A $6,000 bid won a whirlwind trip to NYC Fashion Week, with overnight hotel accommodations, tickets to the Nicole Miller show, and dinner.

My missed opportunity: Had I not gone shopping earlier in the day and dropped a bundle, I would have definitely bid on The Palm‘s unique offering of doing your portrait for their dining room wall, and dinner for two. It went for $900. Ten more minutes in the heat and I would have put in the next bid of $1,000; it was, after all, for charity. Both Christina and John Saler have their portraits on the wall. In fact, John told me he has two. How do you get your portrait on the wall at The Palm you may wonder? The easiest way is to be a notable person, e.g. mayor, celebrity, in-the-news business person … hmmmm … maybe a blogger who promotes charities pro-bono?? Another way is to be a long-time customer, as one of my friends was who has his mug up there. Come to think of it, $1,000 would have been a bargain.

Tim Lebold, Kate Wilhelm, executive director of the Fairmount Park Conservatory, and Melanie Johnson, Philadelphia city representative. (Kate and about 50 percent of the ladies there wore Nicole Miller.) And Melanie tells me that the lineup for the July 4th “Welcome America” celebration and entertainment will be announced today. Every year I look forward to these events, as it really is my favorite time of the year. It’s one of the reasons I really love living in Philadelphia, the birthplace of America.

Anastasia Karloutsos, Lisbeth Henry and Sophia Stogiannis. Anastasia tells me that the Water Works Restaurant is just about to celebrate their fourth anniversary on July 21st. Business is booming and it’s no wonder: the atmosphere is chic, and who doesn’t love eating on the water? Very romantic, and many engagements have happened there. Speaking of engagements, I ran into Girard College pres Autumn Adkins and her fiance R. Vann Graves. They are getting married in his home state of Virginia on May 29th. They met through a total stranger; a woman who had a chance meeting with both of them and thought they should meet, arranged it. He’s in advertising and will commute to his Manhattan job.  Congratulations to both.

Lisbeth Henry is the great-great-granddaughter of Frederick Graff, who built the waterworks and created the iron pipe to transport the water to the city.

Other notables at the party: Dwight Evans, Citizens Bank president and CEO Dan Fitzpatrick, and his wife Beth, Tony Conti, Nicole Miller, Nicole Miller CEO Bud Konheim, Mary Dougherty, QVC’s Angie Simmons, T.V. hostess Linda Swain, Drexel’s chairman of the board Manny StamatakisEliana and Maria Papadakis, and William R. Sasso. Stradley Ronon Stevens & Young received the ”Stand and Deliver” corporate partner award.

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