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  • Sally Gerak

Week of 1.21.19

Detroit Historical Society Ball

Staying true to its decades-long tradition of having the formal fundraising gala in a unique Detroit venue, the DHS Ball 2018 was at the year-old Lexus Velodrome. The 80, early-arriving VIP’s ($850-ticket) were dwarfed by the cavernous cycling track perimeter where silent auction displays ($23,000) and bars were at the ready. The toasts by board Chair Tom Buhl and new CEO / Executive Director Elana Rugh included gratitude to sponsors, committee members and the reminder that the museum had received the nation’s three, most coveted museum awards during 2018. Patrons (226 @ $500) soon joined the scene for Forte Belanger – passed hors d’oeuvres and cocktails before all trekked down and up the stairs leading to the “dining room” – actually the large infield surrounded by the elevated cycling track. During the dinner program, Jason Hall received the DHS 2018 Moving Forward Award for founding Slow Roll Detroit, a weekly bike ride that promotes community among bike riders of all ages and all abilities. The award was founded in 2017 as part of the Society’s award-winning project about the 1967 rebellion – “Detroit 67: Looking Back to Move Forward.” As professional cyclists in spandex circled the 'drome on the banked track overhead, guests in black tie dined, pledged $54,250 for museum programs and bid $30,000 in the brief live auction topped by the winning $10,000 bid for a dinner party at Bobbi and Stephen Polk’s Highgate estate. Thanks also to two raffles ($12,800), generous sponsors (see photo gallery), and the 78 late-night partiers who danced to Ben Sharkey’s music, the annual gala raised $431,835. Its location also was a nod to the museum’s new exhibition about the history of cycling in the Motor City – “Pedal to the Metal: Detroit on Two Wheels” – which runs through August.

Meadow Brook Hall Starlight Stroll

Approximately 15,000 people visited Meadow Brook Hall during the 30-day Holiday Walk exhibition which was coordinated by Grand Haven floral designer Alice Waterous. Some of them were guests at one of the 150 private events booked by philanthropic hosts, but 250 got reservations ($100) for the sold-out Starlight Stroll. That evening offered self-guided tours, butler-passed hors d’oeuvres and desserts; bar service on two levels; chef-attended dining stations, a strolling magician, a photo booth for keepsake pictures plus music for listening and dancing. Dave Bennet – a clarinet virtuoso who plays electric guitar, piano, drums, and vocalizes – filled the ballroom with marvelous sounds ranging from jazzy Swing to Rockabilly Rock and Roll. This reporter’s favorite Starlight Stroll story was Mary and Val Polito’s. Not only was the Clinton Township couple celebrating their 10th anniversary, it was exactly the same date as their wedding (plus 10, of course) and Mary was wearing her bridal dress. (See photo gallery.) When the walk closed on Dec. 23, the 47th annual event had raised $275,000 to preserve the fourth largest historic house museum in the country. The public may also celebrate Valentine's by candlelight at Meadow Brook Hall 6:30 pm, Thursday Feb. 14. Plans include valet parking, cocktails, self-guided touring with strolling violinists and a three-course dinner with wine service at a private table for two. For reservations ($100 per person) call Jill at (248) 364-6252. And don’t miss the third “Antiques Roadshow” filmed at Meadow Brook Hall which airs on PBS tonight, Jan. 21.

Irish Nite Auction Ingathering

About 250 Brother Rice High School parents, alums and alumni parents, led by chairs Ron and Katie Gantner, flocked to Birmingham Country Club just before the holidays to donate goodies for the annual auction. Auction coordinators Megan Marderosian and Susan Reid were especially pleased that one donor brought two VIP tickets to “Hamilton” and dinner with the cast and crew prepared by the Food Network’s Marcus Samuelsson. The 42nd annual fundraiser is Saturday, March 16 at Birmingham Country Club.

Eisenhower Dance Detroit Afterglow

After the holiday performance at the Seligman Performing Arts Center, about 80 modern dance enthusiasts gathered for a benefit afterglow at the Demps-Simon handsome, Victorian-style Birmingham home which was garlanded in holiday greenery. Amid the warm hospitality of the family, (Carolyn, board member Guy and college student Celeste), dancers in the crowd accepted kudos for their work and new executive director Anne Bak Marine was meeting some EDD supporters for the first time.

Check in the coming weeks for reports & photos from these events:

NAIAS The Gallery

NAIAS Charity Preview

The Children’s Center Auto Glow


Kris & Andy Applebee are hosting the CARE House Circle of Friends Preview Party 6 – 8 pm, Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2019. The celebrity guest / author / sex trafficking survivor Theresa Flores will also be the featured speaker at the luncheon the next day chaired by Lisa Bouchard & Anna Rea at The Townsend Hotel. For tickets ($125-luncheon; $175-patron, $150-preview party; $275- patron & preview party) go to For sponsorships go to

David King, Dante Rosa and Aubrey Tobin are chairing Variety, The Children’s Charity’s sixth annual Chili, Wings & Soup(er) Bowl 6:30 pm, Friday, January 25, 2019 at the Townsend Hotel. Bruce & Kathy Broock Ballard are the honorary chairs. Plans include drinks, dancing, a raffle and friendly competition for best chili, wings and soup. Featured restaurants include: Under Bar & Grill, Beans & Cornbread, Birmingham Country Club, Brady's Tavern, The Community House, Hazel Ravines & Downtown, Jim Brady's Detroit, The Maple Kitchen, The Rugby Grille, The Souperbowl, Whistle Stop Diner and more. Awards for both People's Choice and Critic's Choice (with Celebrity Judges Annabel Cohen, Kate Lawson and Matthew Prentice) will be announced. For sponsorships and tickets ($100, $150) call 248-258-5511.

Wendy Halsted Beard is hosting a fundraiser for Eisenhower Dance Detroit, 5 – 7 pm, Saturday, Jan. 26 at the Halsted Gallery in Birmingham. Plans include dance performances, wine & hors d'oeuvres, and opportunities to purchase photographic art from the gallery including dance photography. Purchase tickets ($25) at Proceeds will benefit the Carol Halsted Legacy Fund to commission new choreographic works for EDD's world-class repertory.

The Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research is presenting an Edible Landscapes Dinner at Thornlea, 5:00 - 8:45pm, Sunday, January 27, 2019. The Farm-to-Table Dining and Cranbrook History Experience will feature a five-course dinner and wine pairings by Chef Matthew Baldridge and bartender Jarrod Kassis inspired by Henry and Carolyn Booth’s journeys and the menus they collected in France. Tours of Thornlea’s four floors will be included. This intimate dinner, which is strictly limited to 50 guests, is hosted by Gregory Wittkopp, Director of the Cranbrook Center for Collections and Research, and will feature Cranbrook storyteller extraordinaire, Collections Fellow Kevin Adkisson. For tickets ($195) go to

The Max Broock Charitable Foundation and the Multiple Sclerosis Society are presenting the 5th annual Sushi Event Fundraiser to benefit Multiple Sclerosis 4 – 7 pm, Friday, Feb. 1 at The Broock, 413 W Nine Mile Rd, Ferndale MI, 48220. Minimum donation is $25. Plans include sushi, wine, a silent auction, a raffle, a kid-friendly room and valet parking available. Public parking is available in the adjacent lot. The Bates Street Society Dinner is February 2, 2019 at The Community House. Plans include valet parking, a three-course seated dinner, wine and cocktails, keynote speaker Cynthia Ford, music by Ben Sharkey and inspirational recognition of new Pillars of the Community: Mitch Albom, Richard DeVore, Dr. Jeffrey Fischgrund, Jennifer Granger, Arthur Horwitz, Amy and Daniel Loepp and Bill Roberts. For tickets ($300-Patron, $100-Past Pillars - includes 6 pm champagne reception; $250-cocktails at 6:30) go to

Patti Brozek and Bridget Sagmani are chairing the St. Regis Gala: Dancing with the St. Regis Stars 2 7 pm, Saturday, Feb. 2 at Shenandoah Country Club. Plans include open bar, strolling dinner, live auction, raffles, DJ & Dancing, Cigar Lounge, Late Night Snack and the dance competition. Featured dancers include parents Alessandra Ercolani, Audrey Moran Faust, Brooke Murphey, Chris Bouschet, Matt Stenger, Tommy Lee and teacher Renee Morency. For tickets ($150, $250-VIP includes champagne toast at early reception and reserved seats) go to

The Birmingham Education Foundation annual fundraiser – The Unabashed BASH – is Saturday, Feb. 9 at The Townsend Hotel. Plans include valet parking, cocktails, silent, online and live auctions, dinner and entertainment. For sponsorships and tickets ($200) go to or call 248-203-3030.

Sue Atwell is chairing Marian High School’s Mardi Gras, Saturday, Feb. 9 at the school. The co-chairs are Joellen Shortley, Mary Wenzel and Julie Murray. Contact Atwell at to donate or volunteer for this Mothers’ and Dads’ clubs event.

Joy Levran, Lisa Rothberger and Carly Sanfield are chairing ORT’s WINGO, 5:30 pm, Thursday, March 14, at Knollwood Country Club. This women’s only bingo party offers lots of prizes, a strolling dinner, signature cocktails, a silent auction and lots of raffles with great prizes.

Ron & Katie Gantner are the Leadership Chairs of the Brother Rice Irish Nite 6 pm, Saturday, March 16 at Birmingham Country Club. Bro. David MacIntyre is the Honorary Chair. For tickets ($250-includes 5pm VIP reception, $100-friend) go to

The Detroit Zoological Society’s third annual Wildlife Conservation Gala, presented by Ford Motor Company, is 6-9:30 pm, Saturday, March 16 at the Detroit Zoo’s iconic Wildlife Interpretive Gallery. Plans include hors d’oeuvres, cocktails, a sit-down dinner, raffle and presentation of the Nautilus Award to an individual whose efforts have made a profound impact on the future of wildlife and embody the DZS’s mission of Celebrating and Saving Wildlife. Themed “Saving Birds Around the World”, the gala will include a presentation highlighting the DZS’s extensive field work with penguins in the Falkland Islands and Antarctica, as well as long-term work in the Great Lakes region with piping plovers and other avian species. For tickets ($250 and up) go to All proceeds will benefit the DZS’s wildlife conservation programs.

The Alternatives for Girls annual Role Model Dinner is Wednesday, March 27 at the MGM Grand. It will put the spotlight on Franklin Community Church’s Dr. Althea Simpson, the Detroit Police Department’s Lashinda Stair and Meritor’s Linda Taliaferro.

The Girl Scouts of Southeast Michigan’s annual Cookie Gala is 6-9 pm, Thursday, March 28 at the MGM Grand.

Send ideas for this column to Sally Gerak, 28 Barbour Lane, Bloomfield Hills, 48304 or email

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