Well la de da, what do you know: Freshman fêtes can go off without a hitch. At least they can when the energetic force field that is the Delaware Community Foundation’s The Next Generation (TNG) is at the helm. It’s almost not fair, though, to other first-time soirées. Chips for Charity, TNG’S Monte Carlo-themed night of gaming and glamming at the Blue Ball Barn in Wilmington, only had Samantha Diedrick, owner and president of Wilmington’s Secretariat Wedding & Event Planning, on hand to do the heavy lifting. And heavy it must have been because honey, you should see the shape of her arms—they, and the rest of her, looked flawless in a tailored-to-a-capital-T sleeveless black-and-brocade cocktail dress.
Gabby caught TNG president Mark Lucey, he of the impressively well-coiffed dark hair, lurking around the scrumptious Bixby’s Caterers spread. TNG’s mission, he told Gabby between bites, is to serve as a philanthropy training-ground for young people who are tasked with raising funds to award as grants. TNG’s current cause is fighting childhood obesity. “Our group is really great,” he said. “They’re learning what it takes to be on a board, learning what it takes to go through the grant process so they can go out and serve in a larger capacity in the community.” He and wife Jenna had a fabulous time. “I must give TNG development chairman Don Nicholson and Samantha Diedrick lots of credit for co-chairing the event. If it weren’t for them, we wouldn’t be here right now,” he said.
He wasn’t the only Nicholson fan in the house. Gabby ran smack into Nicholson’s beaming parents, Don Nicholson Sr., owner of Wilmington financial planning firm Donald W. Nicholson & Associates, and his wife, Lynn Nicholson. “We’ve just been playing the casino games,” an excited Lynn told Gabby. “I’ve got quite the stash.” Lynn was Lady Luck, but as for Don Sr.? “I lost mine right away,” he said with a laugh. Oh, dear. Gabby hopes his clients aren’t reading.
It was a Nicholson family affair when Gabby finally found Don Nicholson Jr. hanging with the guys around the sports memorabilia up for auction. “There’s been such a great buzz about this event,” he said. “We really wanted to do something that would be cross-generational. We do a family event at Ramsey’s Farm every year, with hayrides and things like that. No hayrides tonight.” Gabby hopes Don Jr. got a good post-party night of sleep—he’s got to be up early as the voice of WDEL 1150’s “The Business Report” at 6:53 a.m.
Upstairs on the dance floor, the DJ spun equal parts Sinatra and Shakira to please the age-diverse crowd, and Gabby found pretty Kati-with-an-i Capitan, in a gorgeous black dress with a darling satin-bow neckline, dazzling diamond earrings and a posh up-do. The director and founder of Dover’s Central Delaware Speech-Language Pathology Inc. was helping boyfriend Brad Holden, one of TNG’s newest members, sell raffle tickets. “My mother once told me never to have a glass of wine in my hand if someone takes my picture,” Capitan said, quickly setting her glass of white on the table as a photographer approached. Mother knows best, Kati.
Gabby spotted a certain distinguished gentleman looking absolutely natty in navy down in the casino room. Just as she was considering the thoughtful decision that went into the ornate gold buttons on his jacket and the matching gold chain detail on his shoes, he turned and Gabby realized it was man of the hour Fred Sears, president of the Delaware Community Foundation. “They sold out of tickets,” Sears told Gabby proudly. Sears started TNG a few years ago when some young people came to him and asked how they could help out with DCF. “One of them said to me, ‘I want to help.’ So I called another organization and they said I could come out to their 5K run and hand out water at the half-way mark. That’s not helping out. But what they do at TNG is.” Sears, who came with wife JoAnn Sears and a posse of friends, was a big winner at the tables. “In case you’re wondering, all the people here with gray hair? I brought them. They’re my friends.” Sears is looking to make even more friends, Southern Delaware, when he brings TNG downstate in the near future.
Page 2: Somewhere Over the… Moon?
Gabby noticed something startling on her way down the Yellow Brick Road—better known as Route 1 every other day of the year—toward the Dover Sheraton for “An Evening in Oz” at the Southern Delaware Heart & Stroke Gala on March 19. The moon looked exceedingly full—had it been wearing a cocktail dress, it would have been very unladylike, bursting out all over. A quick Google on her smart phone (chockablock with all of Gabby’s most coveted contacts, of course) while waiting in the valet line taught Gabby that the moon was so luminously large because it hadn’t been that close to the Earth in 18 years. Valiant effort, science, but Gabby knows the real reason—that poor old moon was just trying to get as close as it could to one of Kent County’s most fabulous galas.
But even the moon couldn’t outshine Tonda Parks, who, with husband Joe Parks, has been chairing the event for 25 years. “Look at how amazing the volunteers did,” she said, gesturing to the Oz-tastic decor
in the Sheraton lobby—the Emerald City sparkled in lights, and there was even Aunty Em’s house with the Wicked Witch of the East’s stockinged feet sticking out. “They’ve outdone themselves this year.” So did Parks, dressed to impress in dazzling color and sequins, with vivacious pink rhinestoned heels to boot. “I got this whole look in downtown Dover at Simon’s,” she said. Parks was aglow with pride about how much fun everyone was having. “It’s become a trademark of this event,” she said. “We’ve positioned it to be a fun, festive evening intended for a good time. Not sitting down all night.”
Sophia Kramedas-Ghanayem certainly wasn’t sitting down, and with shoes as fabulous as hers, Gabby wouldn’t be either—one click of her glitzy silver-sequined heels and Sophia sent Dorothy’s boring old ruby reds packing. Dressed in a red satin cap-sleeved mini, with layers of pearls and smoky eyes, Kramedas-Ghanayem was all done up for a mommy’s night out, but still couldn’t resist gushing about her adorable daughter, who scored her very first goal in soccer earlier that day. She was very pleased at how great the hotel looked. She ought to be: her family owns it. Gabby also overheard Kramedas-Ghanayem and friends dishing about designers Badgley Mischka and Dana Buchman before oohing and aahing over the lit-up Emerald City display.
Perhaps Kramedas-Ghanayem should have been thanking Bill Andrew, president and CEO of Delaware Electric Cooperative, for keeping those lights on. “I’m going for the whole ‘Wizard of Oz’ look,” Andrew said, gesturing to his slick red bow tie and matching cummerbund. “I hope it’s working.” Oh, it is Bill. Trust Gabby on that one. Something else that’s working for Andrew, and the state in general, is the Cooperative’s “Beat the Peak” program, in which Cooperative customers receive indicators to turn back their electricity during peak hours. “Ours was the first program in the nation like it,” he said. “That’s home-grown Delaware.”
Gabby took a trip down the yellow brick road, which zigged and zagged across the hotel lobby, and got her fairy tales all mixed up when she discovered a pot of gold at the end in the shape of Lori Stanton-Dinger, who stole Gabby’s best-dressed nomination. The dress, a floor-length satin, one-shouldered canary yellow gown with a sweet front ruffle detail, was simply stunning. “Tiger Lili, Rehoboth,” she told Gabby as she floated by.
In the silent auction room, Gabby found all sorts of decadent goodies; a stunning Victor Letonoff painting was the gem of the collection, garnering all sorts of attention. Gabby spied Eric Doroshow, of The Law Offices of Doroshow, Pasquale, Krawitz & Bhaya; and wife Judge Aida Waserstein circling by the piece quite a few times.
While considering what to do next—sip, shimmy or spy—Gabby caught two dashing Dems sharing a laugh. A very jazzed up state treasurer Chip Flowers (whom Gabby now swears is following her on the party circuit) looked charming in a crisp tux and bow tie as he caught up with friend Charles “Trey” Paradee III. What was so funny? “I just threw on a tux and came out,” Paradee was saying to Flowers. “Look. I didn’t even shine my shoes.” Oh, the horror, Trey. Lucky for you, Gabby will overlook such things when a tux fits just so.
The ball raged on until 1 a.m., and Gabby must confess that while it’s usually true that there’s no place like home, not even a troop of flying monkeys could have gotten those people off the dance floor… Till next time, stay fabulous.