The Gabster parties with local pols and breast cancer pals at Longwood. Pirates prevail at the beach, while garden trends get buzz at Winterthur.


Hello, dahlings! Gabby parties with local pols and breast cancer pals at Longwood. Pirates prevail at the beach while garden trends get buzz at Winterthur. For the lowdown on the best of the boldfaced names, read on.

You’d better believe Northern Lights of Life at Longwood, the ninth annual fundraiser for the Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition, Inc., drew heavy-hitting legislators to its elegant Evening of Living and Giving. U.S. Senator Tom Carper, whose wife, Martha Ann Carper, serves on the DBCC’s advisory board, shook hands all around as soon as he entered the conservatory. Congressman Mike Castle, who took out a full-page ad in the official program, occupied a front-row seat next to his wife, Jane Castle, for the live auction. A VIP triumvirate of Wilmington City Council president Ted Blunt, State Senator Charles Copeland and Priscilla Rakestraw, who’s on DBCC’s staff, were talky as magpies in the busy ballroom-where guests bid on slews of silent auction goodies-with Kelli Meoli, a cancer survivor and DBCC board member, joining Priscilla. Charlie Copeland chuckled over a U.S. Senator Joe Biden story: -I was at the Delaware Volunteer Firefighters Association luncheon yesterday. Joe phoned from Iowa to say hello. It was the shortest speech he ever gave.”

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More politics. “Come over here and say hello to our next governor,” boomed Don Mell, who managed Bill Lee’s campaign for that office in our last election. We were thrown off course to find Alan Levin, mogul of Happy Harry’s pharmacy chain, as the subject of Don’s enthusiasm. “Really? Which party?” asked dumb, na’ve Gabby. Alan put the gal in her place: -There’s only one party in Delaware. Republican, of course.- Is Don gonna manage this campaign? “Don will be involved,” said Jeanne Mell, his chic, pretty wife, another active DBCC trustee.

Jewelry designer Linda Gray looked fab in a triple strand of her freshwater -stick- pearls and a patterned mango-colored shawl arranged over her red dress. Earlier, while enjoying goat cheese ravioli and grilled veggies, blonde Marsha Barnett, DBCC’s second vice president, elaborated on the group’s significance. “It’s an organization that’s really blossomed over the last four years,” she said. “I never really thought about young women in their 20s and 30s as having breast cancer. It’s a pivotal group.”

You just can’t buck the buccaneer trend. The annual Beach Barbecue for the day camp program at the Children’s Beach House in Lewes hit the deck with a pirate theme complete with Jolly Roger stickers, chocolate doubloons and two colorful, scene-stealing parrots on loan from Farmer Girl Exotic Gardens in Rehoboth Beach. Caroline Prickett, a Beach House trustee, was in the swing with an eye patch from Happy Harry’s plus a blue bandana. “I feel like I’ve lost an eye. I’m in the Braille system,” Caroline joked. “I’m a retired pirate and my grandchildren are fans of the Pittsburgh Pirates,” explained George Beckerman of Bethesda, Maryland, who gamely attached a gold earring to one ear. (George worked as an investment banker in Brooklyn. Draw your own conclusions about any buried treasure chests).

We caught proactive Marcia de Witt, president of the Rehoboth Art League, on the Beach House’s second floor, where table-shaped tanks containing sand and fish delight youngsters with special needs. Count Marcia in as one of the area’s most tireless hostesses, tossing a dinner for filmmaker John Waters in connection with the Rehoboth Beach Independent Film Festival this fall. Vanity Fair writer Dominick Dunne was similarly feted during the Disney shareholders’ suit in Georgetown a few years back. “I am looking for another good trial,” Marcia confessed.

Alex Pires, a.k.a. the Kingpin of Dewey Beach in this column, was full of news from a respite at The Charlotte Inn in Edgartown, Martha’s Vineyard, that he enjoyed with his wife, Diane Cooley. “I had the most expensive room in the history of Edgartown. There were a couple of hundred thousand dollars worth of antiques, but no children, cellphones or computers,” Alex said. “It wasn’t as nice as the Bellmoor Inn, just bigger and richer.- Added Diane, pert in a three-year-old Lilly Pulitzer sundress from Tickled Pink, -I was terrified his cell phone would go off.”

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Cyn Cooley, Diane’s sister, came down for the fun from New York City. So did travel writer Erika Strauss, who remarked that the Beach Barbecue folk (about 400 total) looked more zaftig than the skinny Hamptonites she’d socialized with recently at an “Ocean’s 14” bash out there. The barbecue’s downfall for the diet-conscious: The gleaming, roast suckling pig by Em-ing’s of Millsboro that beat any arugula all to heck.

Mary Jane and Garry Lyons, Emilee and Jon Reynolds, Amanda and Hobby Ryan, Carey and Rick Cross, Esther and Rick Downes crossed our path, too. Elyse and Rob Moore, fourth-generation Rehoboth Beach residents, served as co-chairs. “Oh, they did a beautiful job but, Gabby, we knew they would,” beamed Dee Moore, Rob’s proud mom.

-We had to retrieve our cups from the garbage and reuse them.- This, in reference to a plasticware shortage at the first wine-tasting station from a source who wished to remain anonymous, appeared to be the sole glitch at Under the Dogwoods, the kickoff reception for GardenFair held at Winterthur, An American Country Estate. Green-thumb guests munched on gourmet mini-pizzas while sampling 13 varietals, courtesy of Ward’s Fine Wines in Wilmington. Meanwhile, authorities brimmed with inside info about the latest -growing- trends.

According to garden and estate director Chris Strand, -brightly colored glass orbs–which floated like incandescent beach balls on the Reflecting Pool-had clicked during the event’s Early-Bird Shopping. “I’ve seen people leaving with handfuls of trellises,” Chris added.

Susan Trezise, whose husband, James Trezise, is on Winterthur’s corporate board, reported -a mixture of charming antiques and garden accessories’ at her Merry Hill Designs. “Antique botanicals,” added Meredith Graves, Merry Hill’s proprietor and coordinator for the garden shop at Winterthur. With the holidays ahead, silver foxwood and ivy topiaries will be signatures at Winterthur. As for private homes, look for -traditional with a twist and things that have more drama,” Susan said.

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Strand attributed our infatuation with horticulture to the nesting impulse. “People travel so much. But if you’re going to spend money on something, the garden makes sense,” Strand said. On arrival, we rode the tram through the azalea gardens with Debbie and John Osborne of Chadds Ford, then picked up Jan Jessup and Fred Carspecken of Wilmington, among others, at Magnolia Bend. Later, as night fell, the oaks and beech trees that frame the reflecting pool became a high-rise canopy. Ta-ta, ’til next time.

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