Our gal goes in search of Wilmington’s most excellent margarita, tackles the Gridiron Dinner, makes the rounds at a juvenile diabetes research affair and works the room at Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts event.

Hello, dahlings! This month diabetes’ ambassador kids bring down the house and DCCA offers a blockbuster of famous artists.

This Way to Margaritaville

After Work Wednesday is designed to entice folks to visit downtown Wilmington restaurants and bars after work. One recent Wednesday celebration included a margarita contest, so Charles Stephenson, reservations manager at the Hotel du Pont, and Patrick Warner, owner of Burning Brain Creative Design, traveled together to six restaurants, sampling each of the margaritas offered. Though not the official judges, they had some strong opinions about the contenders. “At The Exchange, they put graham crackers on the rim,” Patrick said. “It was just like having a slice of Key Lime Pie.” Both Charles and Patrick loved the winning margarita which was served at Deep Blue. “I tasted the cilantro, and like, wow,” said Patrick. “I like herbs, and the combination of cilantro and strawberry gave it a fresh taste with a floral tone.” We’re beginning to think cilantro is the flavor of the month.

Delaware Meets GQ

The irony of the annual Gridiron Dinner is that, though it’s a no-press event, it’s attended by many members of the local media. The riotous night of skits, jokes and good-natured ribbing of Delaware’s pols is a fundraiser to provide scholarships to journalism students. Co-sponsored by The News Journal, what’s said at Gridiron stays at Gridiron. Far be it from Gabby to reveal any secrets, but I must report on a new fashion trend in menswear at this “black tie optional” event. We’re not saying that Delaware is staid, boring or anything like that. But at most local formal events, the biggest departure from a black tux and matching black bowtie is an occasional red or plaid bowtie. But at The Gridiron, we spotted several male partygoers, including  New Castle County Council President Paul Clark and political consultant Richard Korn sporting a more casual look: silk neckties in stripes of black, gray and white. Then there was Delaware’s 30-something Democratic National Committeeman Rhett Ruggerio, who stood out for wearing an open-collared shirt. Rhett seemed to have just stepped off the red carpet on Oscar night. Soooo Hollywood…

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Promises to Keep

Dreams come true. If they didn’t, 400 tri-staters who gathered for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation Promise Ball would have no reason to celebrate the $2.7 million JDRF of Delaware has raised in six years. “A cure is within reach,” said tireless JDRF executive director Kristin C. Hodgson, who sashayed the Chase Center on the Riverfront in a canary-yellow Ralph Lauren gown, “doing the work of four,” a colleague said.
The dream is to stamp out juvenile diabetes and Type 1 diabetes. Nearly everyone who attended the affair was touched in some way by the disease. All gave generously at the silent auction and live auction, dined on Kampachi and short ribs, and swayed to music by Big Walt and the Groove.
The evening was a celebration of what could be, not a reminder of what is. Tripping the light fantastic rather than fearing the hypoglycemic attack was the whole point. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Delaware president Tim Constantine sipped champagne with his wife, Noreen. A fit Rich Abbott put aside his dauntless fight against eminent domain to chat with pals. Richard Srednicki, recently retired CEO of card services at JP Morgan Chase, showed up for the third year in a row. Past JDRF chapter president Theo Krapels and his wife, Janet, looked smashing. Dr. Michael Shamblott, JDRF researcher from The Johns Hopkins Hospital and Health System, drove up from Baltimore with his bride, Deborah, then donated a private tour of his research lab for the live auction. Dazzling as always were Charles Wilkinson, Ann DeBrabander, and Cameron and Kathy Yorkston.
Before they dawdled over finger foods, gala goers in airy frocks and Armani tuxes strolled past a reception area filled with 10 antique trellises and five aisles separated by the petals of 16 dozen roses. Who else but Planning Factory International could dream up such magical decor? Vice president of design and production Susan Simmons, who was lovely in elegant but pragmatic black formal pants and a black jacket with bugle beads, said, “Once we heard the theme Let the Dream Take Wing, we thought butterflies.”
They also thought “gazebo,” an eight-sided structure that stood 9-feet high with an arched top made of metal in a bronze finish. Guests posed on two interior benches, enchanted by the oversized butterflies and green silk ivy surrounding them.
The surf and turf was nice. The tables were nicer. “We came up with centerpieces that were like an enchanted garden,” Simmons says. “We went for the wow factor.”
The hosts were not the region’s jeunesse dorée. They were regular kids who battle Type 1 diabetes. Four-year-old Andrew Lavender, last year’s charming Ambassador of Hope, wore a three-piece suit and rocked his new insulin pump. “It’s better than needles that feel like bug bites,” he said. His was the first face we saw and hundreds resisted pinching his cheek. Teens Michael Woicekowski and Laura DiPrinzio presented Congressman Mike Castle with a Congressional Leadership Award. Woicekowski, 17, has been active in diabetes legislation since he was 8. But in an overwhelmingly moving moment, he said, “Mike is my hero. He never treated me like a kid.”
Needed comic relief came from the vivacious DiPrinzio, who called Castle “stunningly handsome,” instantly silencing the crowd before it burst into riotous bouts of laughter. Castle, soi-disant as he may be, sheepishly took the podium, claiming that DiPrinzio had “badly overstated the looks comment.” Action News Delaware correspondent Lauren Wilson, the captivating master of ceremonies, couldn’t help herself. “Just embrace it, Mike,” she said. “You’re our hunk.”


Cultural Exchange

If the “Philadelphia Collects: Works on Paper” fête at the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts was any indication, the summer arts scene was to be well-dressed, well-heeled and, well, fabulous.
The DCCA was drenched in romantic light from votives sprawled across tables for two, a la a European street café. Lilac flowers floated in martini glasses, and stone mosaics lined the sophisticated spread from Catering by Design.
No sooner had Gabby stepped one pink, satin, bow-tied pump in the door did she spy DCCA board member Kerin Hearn and Ruth Ellen Jacobson make a beeline for apparel artist Marilyn Mitchell’s divine display. As Kerin marveled at structure and design, Ruth popped the question: “Did you see ‘Sex and The City?’”
If only all the world’s problems could be solved by a jeweled Manolo. Speaking of jewels, queen of the night Tatiana Copeland—our magnanimous sponsor—held court in a show-stopping jeweled bolero jacket and sequined tank.
“I like things cutting-edge,” she said of the collection, which includes works by Andy Warhol, David Hockney, Joan Baez and Robert Motherwell, donated straight from the walls of savvy Philadelphia collectors. “I don’t mind if you feel uncomfortable looking at something. It opens your eyes.”
Delaware Museum of Art executive director Danielle Rice stayed mum on all things DMA: “My official stance away from home is, ‘Go DCCA,’” she told Gabby firmly. But the question was less about Danielle’s away jersey and more about her eccentric black-netted, pearl-filled tube necklace. “They’re from Italy,” Blue Streak Gallery proprietor Ellen Bartholomaus whispered in Gabby’s ear.
WHYY CEO Bill Marrazzo saluted the partnership between WHYY and DCCA, which brought the collection to the center. “I’m thrilled to be standing here talking to you without a 1-800 number scrawled across my chest,” he quipped.
And of course, DCCA executive director Maxine Gaiber reveled in the evening. “It’s all about transcending borders, not just between Delaware and Philadelphia, but throughout the nation,” she said. “Who knew Joan Baez could draw?” Ta-ta, ’til next time!   

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