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Wednesday, December 24, 2014
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Published: Monday, 10/27/2003

Benefit has aria of elegance

The Sapphire Ball “An Evening at the Imperial Palace” presented by the Toledo Opera Association was pure elegance from the decor, food, and entertainment to the ladies and gentlemen in formal attire. Guests arrived at The Pinnacle Saturday evening into a sea of perfection. Black linen-covered tables set with candles, gold charger plates, black lacquer chop sticks, and red napkins tied with orchids, held centerpieces of white flowers of the four seasons.

ORIENTAL GRACE: Melissa Wang checks out her hair before she goes out to greet guests at the Sapphire Ball.
ORIENTAL GRACE: Melissa Wang checks out her hair before she goes out to greet guests at the Sapphire Ball.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

Fireplaces were lit, and shoji screens provided backdrop for the stage of red, black, white, and gold, with a black grand piano below. A sushi bar by Chef Dennis Chung of KotoBuki was in the garden area, and warm oriental favorites such as peanut chicken and egg rolls were inside.

Wait staff in tails and white gloves meandered through the crowd offering champagne, sake, and canapes. Meanwhile the martini bar with sakinis, cosmopolitans, javatinis, and the standard toxic concoction, was popular.

Guests seated, soprano Vanessa Conlin of New York wooed guests with romantic arias. Miss Conlin is the daughter of Opera Association Director Renay Conlin, who was dressed for the evening in a red satin Japanese ensemble. The ladies were stag: Father and husband Tom Conlin was in Europe conducting a performance of The King and I for the king and queen of Croatia.

Dinner, many of the recipes provided by Mrs. Conlin, was fabulous from the salad with shiitake and sesame dressing, to the fresh salmon, filet of beef with soy mustard glaze, Japanese rice and oriental vegetables, and world-renowned Japanese chef Nabuo Fakuda's signature dish: duck breast with Zinfandel sauce. The feast, served with wine, was topped with cheesecake with sake-marinated dry cherries and garnished with chocolate medallions.

OPERA FANS: Chairmen John and Elizabeth Gorski spend an elegant evening. OPERA FANS: Chairmen John and Elizabeth Gorski spend an elegant evening.
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A quick live auction of 12 items included a glass-and-bronze sculpture by world-renowned glass artist Jack Schmidt, who donated the piece. Vacation packages tempted many guests, including John and Debbie Joslin, who bought a Mediterranean cruise from Atlas Travel.

Dessert was extra special for Dawn French, there with Paul Knieriem. On bent knee, Mr. Knieriem proposed marriage to her, and after a quick call to mom and dad, Miss French said, “I will.” Mr. Knieriem proudly remarked, “I selected Toledo's most elegant evening for Toledo's most elegant lady!”

Enough sitting! Calories were burned as the crowd packed the dance floor to the tunes of the Jerry Ross Band. Goodie bags of thanks included sake, a fan, and tea.

Bravo! to chairman Elizabeth Gorski assisted by auction chairman Cynthia Taylor, and their committee. Jim Hoffman was emcee.

Among the diverse group were Boo and Chris Hensien, Marty and Jan Connors, Ford and Phyllis Cauffiel, Yvonne Tertel Pollex, Marv and Nancy Robon, Howard and Mary Madigan, Don and Mary Decker, Maggie Thurber, Marianne Ballas, Ann Sanford and Bernie Leiter, Spence and Christie Stone, Jr., Debbie and Terry Paul, Sam and Susan Botek, Leo and Deb Deiger, Peter and Valerie Garforth, Barbara and Mike Berebitsky, Fran and Dick Anderson, Susan and Tom Palmer, Dan and Elaine Johnson, and Bob and Linda Helmer, Kathy and Steve Herman, Lovi and Dick Aldinger, Pat and Sarah McIntyre, Chuck and Meg Niehaus, Chris and Regina Joseph, Ann Galloway, Rudy Peckinpaugh and Sally Bertram, Craig and Amy Findley, Celso and Leah Antiporda, Lynn Kordash and Allen Kazmaier, Peter and Claudia Handwork, Bruce and Marina Lung, and Bob and Cary Swan.

They shopped and shopped and came back for more.

“Artworks Toledo,” a juried exhibition and sale of fine art by 200 artists from across the country at SeaGate Convention Centre during the weekend, was a great venue for holiday shopping.

YOU GOTTA HAVE ART: Board chairman Joe Spencer and his wife, Dee, are fired up over pottery during the Artworks Toledo exhibition at the Seagate Centre. YOU GOTTA HAVE ART: Board chairman Joe Spencer and his wife, Dee, are fired up over pottery during the Artworks Toledo exhibition at the Seagate Centre.
KING / BLADE Enlarge

The event, presented by American Craft Marketing, Inc., opened Friday evening for some 700 guests with a preview “pARTy on the Town!” and continued Saturday through yesterday. A portion of the proceeds will go Arts Commission of Great Toledo.

The setting itself was artsy with the help of board member Diane Putnam, who made free-form copper tube sculptures for the stage and table centerpieces.

Continuous entertainment was on stage all weekend, including the Karl Hillenbrand Ensemble that wooed the audience with jazzy Sinatra tunes Friday night: The Toledo School for the Arts provided performances during the bands breaks. Children had fun too with newspaper hats, face painting, and story times.

And not to worry about taking a break — weary shoppers rested in the courtyard, watched entertainment, and feasted on popcorn, hot dogs, pizza, and more.

Several folks were there all three days, including Chrys Peterson and Tom Runnels. Jan and Art Purinton remarked “It's the best show around!”

Seen with arms full of “goodies” were Bob and Jean Samsen, Diane and Larry LaPointe, Ida Casey, Carol Bintz, and Janice and Jim Lower.

Former Toledoan Mike Stranahan of Colorado, who is a potter, had fun just browsing and visiting with friends — especially ones in the same field — including Edith Franklin, who was assisting potter Ann Tubbs with her booth. Ms. Tubbs won a purchase award.

Fiber, wood, leather, jewelry, glass, paintings, prints, graphics, sculptures, ceramics, sculpture, photography, and more were all there.

Getting first dibs on art buys Friday night between socializing and dancing were Mark and Sandy Luetke, Jeff and Laurie Jaffe, Margy and Scott Trumbull, Susan and Frazier Reams, Ardenia Jones Terry, Barbara and Alan Konop, Lillian Spaulding, Jim Moore and Tim Valko, Kim Collins and Bill Cosgrove, Pam Davis, Paula Brown, Pat and Bob Levy, Steve and Ann Stranahan, Fritz Wolfe, Mary Martin, Sandra Hylant, Debbie and George Chapman, former Toledoans Steve and Laura Newman of Chicago, and Tom Schmidt, who provided “Schmidt art dollars” good for $20 towards the purchase of any art bought on Friday night.

Admission tickets included discount tickets too through out the weekend: $2 off for every $20 spent.

Kudos go to Joe Spencer, president of the Arts Commission, and his wife, Dee, along with Bob Meeker, who were chairmen of the event. They said more than 5000 people were in attendance Saturday and yesterday.

FUR WEARERS: Debbie and Nick Stachurski are Cruella DeVil and Winnie the Pooh's Tigger.
FUR WEARERS: Debbie and Nick Stachurski are Cruella DeVil and Winnie the Pooh's Tigger.
HIRES / BLADE Enlarge

Goblins, ghouls, and ghosts. Halloween is creeping upon us, but spirited fun began early. MaskZoorade, presented by the Toledo Zoo Guild at the Zoo, is always the kickoff to the spooky season.

This year's costumed party goers prowled and howled in the heated Nairobi Events Pavilion as Moore's Law played tunes for dancing. Those souls who dared looked into their future with the assistance of astrologer Sue Lovett, while others were content to seek out other frightening fun.

PIRATE FUN: Mary Jean Schimmel and matey Lee have an eye out for pirate fun. PIRATE FUN: Mary Jean Schimmel and matey Lee have an eye out for pirate fun.
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Event proceeds for “Into Africa,” will help pay for the Pride of Lions sculpture at the entrance to the new Africa exhibit opening in 2004.

The sculpture, priced at more than $100, 000, is nearly paid for with the loot from last year's and this year's MaskZoorade, but they might need a few more coins.

A Hearse and Ambulance Car Show kicked off The Black Cat Strut to benefit Paws and Whiskers Cat Shelter Saturday at Tamaron Country Club. Chairman Paul Kemner was delighted to have cat lover Susan Ross Wells of WTVG Channel 13 as emcee, especially since her husband's band, E.J. Wells and the Haymakers, was part of the musical entertainment.



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