Scene & Heard: Most Memorable Moments
Kellie Burns recaps her favorite moments in a distinguished year of charity events.
Celebrity guest Michael Kors, seen with Jane Berger and Kathleen Kapnick, helped make the 2012 Hats in the Garden the biggest yet.
What a season we had in 2012-2013—amazing acts of charity, fireworks when you least expected them, imagination and emotion running free at events and more. Here are my choices for the most memorable moments in a most distinguished year.
A doff of the chapeau to this past Hats in the Garden event with special guest, fashion designer Michael Kors. Always a favorite with the ladies who lunch—and an unofficial kick-off to season in Naples—this one was above and beyond. There was the white runway extending the length of the enormous white tent on the grounds of Naples Botanical Garden, the dazzling parade of creative couture and, of course, the charismatic Mr. Kors himself. Call it a heady experience for all.
Best Flash Mob
Who could top an opener like this? Opera Naples rocked the tent at Magic Under the Mangroves in March by greeting guests with Libiamo from La Traviata and then bursting into a rousing thank-you to guests and sponsors. It won the performers a standing ovation, and plenty other high notes followed on the momentum of this beginning.
The new Ignite Heart Ball after-party at the Hyatt Regency Coconut Point. After the white-themed Heart Ball ended, the ballroom transformed into something quite different, thanks to the creative planning of chairs Sonya and Brian Sawyer. Guests stepped up to the fiery change of scenery and danced into the early morning hours with DJ Ceron. There was plenty to party over—the gala raised a record $500,000 for the American Heart Association.
Best New Event
Southwest Florida Mud Run to benefit the Golisano Children’s Hospital. Forget the hotel ballroom and sequined gowns. Guests raised money by getting down and dirty at the Redneck Yacht Club, competing in a rugged obstacle course. The brains behind this belong to parents Stephanie Ink and Dustin Edwards, whose two children spent time in the neonatal intensive care unit at the hospital.
Biggest Crowd Favorite
The Galloway Soup Kitchen Gala is always a popular draw. When beloved car mogul Sam Galloway goes fundraising for local causes, the old Fort Myers families and the business community rally to his side. Guests dined in the service bays of his Ford dealership on food donated by local restaurants. The night became even more special for Sam, since his daughter-in-law Tracey, the new director of CCMI, was a driving force in support of her organization.
The dream team of moms who put on the Canterbury School Extravaganza 2013. These dedicated and efficient women got everything donated from local businesses—food, wine, venue, décor—and kept expenditures so low, a whopping 91 percent of the proceeds went to scholarships for students.
Best Did-He-Really-Do-That? Moment
Yes, a guest at the Taste of Brazil Gala for the Guadalupe Center of Immokalee paid $15,000 for auctioneer Scott Robertson’s fruit-patterned tuxedo vest.
Most Unexpected Moment
A group of trustees for the Naples Winter Wine Festival arranged a special treat for their guests at their vintner dinner this past February—a floating barge with a fireworks display over the Gulf. Neighbors seem to have seen it differently, flooding the 911 system with calls over fears we were being invaded and bombed. Go figure.
Best Ending Ever
Southwest Florida Wine and Food Festival. Hands down. Guests took the challenge from Joe Anderson, owner of Benovia Winery, who announced that if attendees could raise $2 million, he would match it. Well they did and then some, and, in the end, produced $5 million for the Golisano Children’s Hospital. Anderson lives in California, but underwent life-saving surgery at Lee Memorial during a visit to Southwest Florida two years ago. What a nice way to show his gratitude.
My Most Anticipated Events for the New Season
Look for two fab events in season—the Sea Horse Gala and the American Girl Fashion Show, both raising money for the Golisano Children’s Hospital. You’ll see local artists’ versions of the larger-than-life-size seahorse statues around town and the rush of excitement from the cult following for the American Girl dolls and their accessories.