You know your friends are loyal when, despite what seemed like the heaviest part of a multi-day downpour, they still show up for your un-tented garden party. That is exactly what happened at Brandywine Park when the dedicated and damp Friends of Wilmington Parks attended their second annual soirée, despite a forced relocation from The Rose Garden.
This year’s event was dedicated to Mr. Charles F. Richards for his years of service to the parks. The weather may not have cooperated, but the resourceful members, guests, and caterers (The Greenery) toted silent auction tables, food stations and a very wet bar over a 100-yard puddle to the only remaining dry land in the park, the parking lot under the I-95 bridge. As organizer Christa Scalies put it, “We are creatively utilizing man-made technology.” (Christa knows a thing or two about the positive effects of a sense of humor. She owns the on-line yoga-laughter school GiggleOn.com, and her dog’s name is Rosie. Insert giggle here.)
Also laughing at the weather was Delaware Sports League owner Bob Downing. Pooh-poohing the precipitation, which had rained out two straight weeks of kickball, Bob reminded us, “It’s about the people and the party and the fun.” Look for Mr. Downing’s new spin on the YMCA’s adult games roster this fall.
Development director and fellow Rosy lens wearer Joe Melloy saw the I-95 “event tent” as “part federal stimulus package, as a federal highway was protecting us.” Joe and his wife, Alberta Melloy, a former flower arranger at Winterthur, were sweet enough to update us on the Sugar Bowl restoration. Another $250,000 is needed to rebuild the Leinson-designed pavilion so it can house such performers as the Delaware National Guard’s 75-piece orchestra. Sounds good to us.
Executive director Michael A. Porro entrusted a cast-iron coin bank to the auction table. Mr. Porro had owned the bank all his life. We didn’t ask if it was full, but it was very heavy. Mr. Porro told us of the late Sally Rinard’s many years of service to the Friends and the generous donation from her trust. You will recall our beloved Sally as the original Gabby.
The soaked roses bowed under the weight of the rain, but longtime Friends and rose experts Bruce and Liz Monroe kept it light. In 2000 the couple gave a historical overview of the garden, which started as a WPA project in the ’30s. The roses were once fertilized with manure from bison in the nearby Brandywine Zoo.
Wilmington attorney Bob Goff had to ask if the noise he heard was “thunder or a semi passing overhead?” His partner Joel Stango enjoyed a glass of “dry” white wine.
Salon owner Fabrizio Galieti and his wife, Angela, said “this is our last social event before heading to Rome,” where they planned to develop their own hair products. Afterward, they were off to Cinqueterra on the coast of Italy.
Mr. Richards and his lovely wife, Pam Richards, wearing a smart sapphire blue trench, were presented with accolades, as well as an original painting of the park—in water colors, of course—by artist Wendy Hatch.
Friends president Fred Toner lamented the “unfortunate conditions,” but shrugged it off to “lessons learned.”
But most guests enjoyed the group bonding under the bridge. The indomitable Betty Bours went so far as to proclaim the party, “perfect, rain or shine.” Shine on, friends.
Page 2: Little Market, Big Finds
The following is an A to Z list of the Gabby Guy’s gets at a recent visit to the Little Italy Farmers Market:
Amish produce, bay rum soap, cocoa therapy bath salts, dry bread mix, eucalyptus, friends, good sewing, home cookin’, industrious young people, jam in jars, K-9 raw dog food, lemon-poppy seed cakes, mozzarella, nutrition, ocean rain moisturizer, polymer pendants, quarts of goat milk, recycled renaissance costumes, spring rolls, trendy T-shirts, upcycled unicorns, very nice vendors, wild-caught salmon, X-troverts, yogurt parfaits and zucchini.
Ammon is the amiable young Amish man whose Toot View Farms (love the name) anchors the other 25 vendors. He sells produce, flowers and baked goods while keeping an eye on his four adorable children. (The market is a great, safe place for the kids, and there’s a cool playground park at the Woodlawn Library, just across Bancroft Parkway.) We liked Ammon’s heads of butter crunch lettuce, which are as big as Jay Leno’s, and fresh eggs from free-range hens that Ammon said “have to be able to walk around and scratch to be happy.” If only it were that simple for all of us.
The rest of the friendly self-starters, many with young children who are making and marketing their own products, are as unique as their merchandise. Their company names give an inkling of what’s in store—or under their awnings. Though we’ve already mentioned Toot View, we like repeating it. At Yummy Tummy, check out the spicy salmon hoagie and mango iced tea. Yummy in our tummy every week.
Sample Rose and Reynold’s spread of cheddar, leeks, spices and mayo blended at Delaware Specialty Foods, “We’ve made a ton” they said in unison. R&R also co-op Jack’s Jam and Jellies in irresistible champagne-raspberry, peach-amaretto and Fire in the Hole flavors. It burns so good.
Still hungry? The Fierro table manned by Jess Meany offers fresh cow’s milk mozzarella. Wilmington native Gael Szymanski planned to pair it with Ammon’s tomatoes and basil to take to “din din” later at Phoebe Craven’s in Westover Hills. “It’s all about good eatin’ and good lovin’,” Gael said. “And prayin’.”
Papa’s Pastry was doing a land office business with chicken pot pie turnovers, prosciutto-stuffed potato croquettes and spring rolls handmade by mom Mari Oei. Daughter Nanik Oei said she’d “have to bring more next week.” Nanik is one of several, much younger (than you or us) businesspersons here. Word is that Max, 11, started the trend. With some, “but not much,” encouragement from his mom, Mr. Max markets Max’s Marvelous Makes self-drawn military, pirate, and his best-seller, robot, standing, paper cutout action figures of soldiers, pirates and robots. “It’s mostly a guy thing,” mused Max, “but I’m working on a medieval dance ball, which will make my sister happy.” Sis Jemma, 8, is a maker of corded Shrinky Dink necklaces, Jemma’s Jems, and she is a terrific twister of balloons.
Master Paul Valiante, son of La Sapone Bolla (Italian for the Soap Bubble) owner Debra Valiante, caught the entrepreneurial spirit from Max, so he offers dry bread mixes in glass canning jars. Look for his dry steak seasoning rubs soon. Debra makes natural goat milk-based soaps, bath salts and moisturizers in lavender, cocoa, Ocean Rain and Bay Rum scents. She is developing a male scent she says “smells like a sexy man in a Viennese café.” Two please.
Now that you’ve been fed good, and you smell good, how about lookin’ good?
We saw sea shells (blue, enameled, earring variety) being sold by Cindy Comegy at Shinar’s creations, polymer pendants and mini framed photo images taken by her sister Pat Comegy on silk cords, and ribbons from Judy Barnhill of Excellent Finds. Judy is a way excellent full-time accountant and part-time jewelry lady “for the fun of it, and to make enough to buy more beads.”
You can even give your reusable shopping bag a makeover with one of Sew Good’s recycled fabric bags, which are made by Kelly Chandler from old Renaissance fair costumes.
Your dog has been so good this whole time, he deserves a real treat. Stop by K-9 Kraving for treats and raw, nutrition-dense dog food. We spied what we thought was a 3-foot dog-walking stick that owner Jeff Masey told us was a bull’s—ahem. “Gets a giggle every time,” Jeff said. “Dogs love them.”
Claire Murray was stockpiling chocolate chip cookies at Mona’s Munchies to take as a gift to friends on Maryland’s exclusive Gibson Island. Back for her second trip that day was Christine Frawley, who needed more must-have Mona seafood and fruit salads, rice puddings and mini sweet potato pies. “I brought my own bag to clean out Mona’s cooler,” Christine said.
Page 3: Stylish Strolling
LOMA was once the acronym for Wilmington’s Lower Market Street Design District. (Think SoHo.) Now it’s been redesigned, said Christian Winburn of Preservation Initiatives, who explained how the business owners, merchants and public relations pros are now marketing LOMA as Life On Market. The new slogan: Eat, sleep, play, stay.
They’ve joined forces to expedite the connection of restaurants and retailers from The Riverfront to Rodney Square. To get the word out, the Market Merchants group—A.R. Morris Jewelers, Wright & Simon haberdashers, Minster’s Jewelers and The Villa sports and footwear store—sent models wearing their wares onto the street to meet and greet the lunchtime flood of office refugees.
A slightly nervous looking Leonard Simon momentarily worried that he may have to “work” the sidewalk catwalk if his model didn’t show up soon. “Hellooo, Heather” the appreciative Simon said with a tone of relief. The pretty model quickly slipped a pre-knotted Phillies logo tie, as well as lobster print ties by Vineyard Vines, over her head, then hit the pavement, turning many a businessman’s head.
Freely sharing his thoughts on the new LOMA campaign was Will Minster, whose family jewelry store has been downtown more than 25 years. He attributed the new energy and interest in large part to developers Buccini/Polin Group, the Ninth Street Fashion District and others. His model was Carolyn Distler, the Delaware sales rep for Troll Beads. Ms. Distler wore a graphic black-and-white print mini dress with yellow accents, as well as several stacked bracelets and lariat necklaces—all by Troll, natch. Her darling 10-year-old daughter assisted by handing out pamphlets and modeling her own bead collection, which she earned mostly as “bonuses for straight-A report cards,” mom said. “It works.”
Walking the walk and talking the talk on A.R. Morris’ behalf was marketing maven and Style Stroll creator Jayla Boire of The Right Idea marketing. Jayla had the right idea by selecting over $10,000 in John Hardy to wear—diamond pave and gold earrings, cuff and necklace. Your Gabby Guy tagged along as reporter—and as secret security detail.
Bill Dowling, a videographer for Mobius New Media, captured all the fun as Ms. Boire had a cozy convo at Cavanaugh’s with three handsome businessmen who were finishing lunch outdoors. Brothers Dave and Steve Landseder, with friend Matt Lesley, didn’t seem to mind Ms. Boire’s brief burger break-in at all.
DuPont Theatre director John Gardner, who “loves a good show,” came over to catch models Ivy and Patience. The two young women were coordinated in black and white with yellows and golds. It seems to be the season’s palette. Theirs was turned out by Villa general manager and style genius La Chema.
Ivy, in a white cotton, Capri-length jumpsuit accented with a wide, woven belt in metallic gold, rocked the snub-nosed stilettos and hot pink nail art by Tulip on Orange. Pal Patience wore one of those “Afghani” scarves Rachel Ray got into trouble for wearing in an ad. Loosely tied in front, it layered over a white tank with a gold five-tiered skirt over black leggings with three snaps—three snaps in V formation for Villa—and baby blue nail art by Flash salon.
Speaking of flashes, there was news from J. Miguez, manager of the LOMA’s meeting and eating place, The Exchange, who shared their new mantra for marketing Market. “Show. Don’t tell,” he said. “We want to actively demonstrate and show people what’s here and happening rather than just tell them about it.”
Show and tell was always our favorite activity in school, and Market Street is our favorite city walk. There certainly is new life—and style—on Market.