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01/30/2012 - Welcome to the home of Social Lights. Read new online reports with photos each week and their reprise in the monthly print edition mailed to homes in Birmingham-Bloomfield at the start of each month. If you are not receiving the print edition by mail, you can order a subscription in the upper right index at the top of this page (subscriptions). If you want e-mail notification of when new Social Lights columns are posted to this site each Monday, sign up in the Newsletter Sign Up box at the lower right side of this home page.

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NAIAS Charity Preview

Just like the Detroit Lions, the auto industry is coming back. Attendance at the North American International Auto Show Charity Preview was 12,000— 2,000 over last year, and total attendance at the end of the show, which was chaired by Bill Perkins, was the highest since 2005, up to 770,932 from 735,370 in 2011. As Mayor Dave Bing said during the opening ceremony, "…the industry is roaring back." When Bing, a retired Piston, referenced the ongoing renovation of Cobo as "the place where he used to work," newcomers to the area had to be told that the Pistons played basketball at Cobo before the Palace was built in Auburn Hills. The audience for the opening ceremony was primed for the upbeat program by the music of seven-year-old drummer Julian Pavone and the Selected of God Choir's rendition of Eminem's "Lose Yourself". This is exactly what the crowd did while they sipped Detroit beer and sparkling L. Mawby Michigan wine as they cruised around the show where 54 manufacturers showcased more than 500 vehicles. We were pleased to see that Chuck Fortinberry, whose successful Chrysler dealership was one of many closed by Washington, has launched a new company, AutoAbility. It converts vans into wheelchair and motorcycle haulers with a simple ramp. We were also pleased to meet Mark and Kim Reuss's teenagers. It was their first time at the charity preview. "Mark is so busy all night that I brought them (to be my dates)," said their mother. The event raised $3 million for 10 children's charities.

The Children's Center's AutoGlow!

The word is out. The Children's Center's benefit party is the perfect place to begin and end Charity Preview night. The 2012 version sold out (950) and required three floors of the Westin Book Cadillac for all the fun planned before and after shuttle rides to Cobo. Festivities included, for the first time, a vintage Under the Big Top theme created by College for Creative Studies design students. Think costumed circus performers like stilt walkers and jugglers from Detroit Flyhouse, carnival games and snacks like cotton candy and popcorn. The ceiling of the second floor Woodward Ballroom was draped like a tent, albeit it an elegant one, and the energetic music attracted dancers until midnight. Because Ford Motor Company was the presenting event sponsor, the soiree enjoyed the support and presence of honorary chairs Ford's Alan Mulally and Bill Ford and his wife Lisa, a CC board member. Governor Rick Snyder also stopped in. Some of the more sagacious guests like CC board member Denise Fleckenstein and her husband Dave Richards even planned to spend the night at the hotel rather than hit the freeway after a night of partying. This year's event raised a record setting $220,000-plus for the 83-year-old agency whose 20-plus programs annually serve nearly 2,000 at risk children.

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