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Scene & Heard


Spectacular handbags, shoes, gala dresses … it was showtime for shoppers at the long-awaited Nordstrom opening at Waterside Shops on Nov. 5 (benefiting the Community Foundation of Collier County, the Conservancy of Southwest Florida and The League Club). More than 1,000 guests dined on wonderful food and were treated to some informal modeling of Nordstrom’s finest fashions. One more bonus: the Ebar and Café Bistro give Waterside shoppers new eating options. My Inner Shopper says, “Welcome to town, Nordstrom.”



You had men, men, men and fast cars from Porsche of Naples as Gulfshore Life celebrated this year’s Top Bachelors issue at trendy Absinthe in Naples. There were more than a few interested females in the crowd of 300 as well. This was the hot ticket in town, and many of the honorees offered themselves in a silent auction to raise money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Southern Florida. Fabulous dates with the boys were up for grabs … a trip to Key West, a skydiving experience together, romantic dinners, massages and pampering. The guys raised more than $4,000 for the Make-A-Wish Foundation—enough to sponsor a wish for a sick child. Even some of last year’s bachelors turned out for the party, including Mike Friedmann, Jonathan Polk and Jerry Gershon (with his new wife, Terry, whom he met at last year’s bachelor event). Gulfshore Life’smanaging editor Shellie Benson, who interviewed all the bachelors for the story in the magazine, was all smiles all night. She’s a lady who loves her job … and who can blame her?



Who knew that Fort Myers Mayor Jim Humphrey, Councilman Randy Henderson and renowned orthopedic surgeon John Fenning had so much funk? And who could have guessed that it would show up at the recent Wizard of Arts gala at the Sidney & Berne Davis Art Center in downtown Fort Myers? Events were proceeding as scheduled until Andrea Prather (who with her husband, Will, owns the Broadway Palm Dinner Theatre) jumped up on the stage with the Bunche Band and started singing her heart out. Irresistible and contagious. In no time, guests—including the above-mentioned gentlemen—pushed back the tables, made a dance floor and got their groove on. Talk about ending on a high note. I’m sure co-chairwoman Fran Fenning had no idea … and no problem picking up the vibe.



We celebrate the nice double play at Gulf Coast Town Center on Oct. 11, when voice-over superstar Randy Thomas launched her national book tour for Voice for Hire with a fundraiser for the Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Southwest Florida. Borders sold 75 of her books that night, and she and her husband, Arnie (a dead ringer for Dustin Hoffman), reigned as gracious hosts. Thomas, a Fort Myers resident, has been the voice of the Oscars seven times and this summer announced Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention in Denver. She has a studio in Fort Myers and splits her time between here and L.A. A big shout-out to the folks at Blu Sushi and managing director Larry Genta for organizing so many creative fundraisers for Komen for the Cure during October, which is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.



Purse power rules! for starters, marvel at the one-of-a-kind purse Chico’s designer Michael Chase created for Handbag Happy Hour at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point Resort & Spa in November. He named it “Beach Glass,” and Veronica Towe of Florida Heart Associates got it with a bid of $3,100. (Towe won last year’s Koi Soirée clutch designed by Chase as well.) The auction for Island Coast AIDS Network drew a crowd of 300 and also offered bags from LeAnn Rimes, Kellie Pickler, Elizabeth Taylor, Meryl Streep, Florence Henderson, Stephanie Powers and local celebrities and merchants. Cole Peacock of Chico’s, a 2006 Gulfshore Business 40-under-40 honoree, drew as many looks as the handbags, particularly from the ladies.



Hollywood glamour dropped in on the lovely Lee County island of Boca Grande in October when Spanx creator Sara Blakely (whose dad lives in Naples) married former rapper Jesse Itzler. He is co-founder of the wildly successful Marquis Jet, a private jet company. Sources tell me Olivia Newton-John serenaded the couple with Hopelessly Devoted. Coldplay was the wedding band, and the guest list included John Travolta and Matt Damon. A little Spanx here, a little jet there as party favors? Probably not. But splendid it was for the 350-plus guests, who booked up nearly all the rooms and rental homes on this grand island. I’m sure they all left singing hopelessly devoted praise of their surroundings.

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