This month the Gabby Guy finds the Brandywine Town Center ringing the bell for a very important cause and learns why the 21st Best of Delaware is all grown up now.

Rockin’ the Robin for Ronald

Former pro boxer and self proclaimed “professional volunteer” Dave Tiberi certainly threw a knockout punch when he organized what is intended to be an annual super-sized benefit for Ronald McDonald House of Delaware, which rocked the Brandywine Town Center. Red Robin restaurateur Craig Colby offered up his high-energy eatery as entertainment epicenter for the entire eight hours of fun—on top of donating 20 percent of the day’s sales to Ronald McDonald House.

While the Red Robin’s gracious and enthusiastic staff were raising funds—and a joyful ruckus—the quieter silent auction items and volunteers did their part in the three-story, glass-domed atrium. Heavy-hitting auction items included the signed Jamie Wyeth “Pride” print, a signed copy of Tiberi’s bio-book and, of course, several groups of four Eagles tix—on the 44 yard line—according to friendly volunteer Ruth Fulmer.

We tried on boxing gloves signed by Oscar De La “Lovely” Hoya and Shane “Sugar” Mosley. The boxing vibe was well represented thanks to Dave’s inner ring connex. How about a round or two for Ronald next year?

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Other physical fitness activities included a demonstration of Kobu Power, a Samurai-inspired cardio-kickboxing workout with a weighted bar and pumpin’ music. The demo was by instructors of Mahato Karate Studio and their sensei, Michael Graves, a seventh-degree black belt and National USA Olympic karate team coach. Thank you, Michael, for the explanation. It makes sensei to me.

Having worked up a Kobu Power-ful thirst, we hopped the lot for a respite of Red Robin root beer. Whistle whetted, we were welcomed by the “Worst Show Ever,” or bad songs played well by students from the School of Rock. Think “Girl You Know It’s True” or “Achy Breaky Heart,” instructor Chris Gordon explained. Carol Forsyth, manager of the School of Rock, made sure to plug its Rolling Stones tribute show and performances at the Dewey Beach Music Conference last month. (Carol’s two teens, Scott and Melissa, attend the school. Very cool.)

County executive Chris Coons and New Castle County Chief of Police Rick Gregory stopped by the big burger booth to chat and chew. It was a noble effort—they’d already been to three county parks and still had two more stops as part of National Night Out. The Colonel and Chris did not leave before Mr. Coons gave us: “Ronald McDonald House is one of Delaware’s best, they do an effective and compassionate job meeting families’ real needs at a most critical time.”

County Councilman Robert S. Weiner walked us outside and around the center’s pond, pointing out the eventual sites for his proposed “more pedestrian friendly” walk-run path, playground and fitness course. “We had to fight to change a bunch of pesky deed restrictions, but we did it,” Weiner (rhymes with finer) said proudly.

We hopped the pond to arrive at the center’s community building just in time to catch Delebrity hair stylist J. Christian’s one man rock ’n’ roll hair show.

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J. “an old, ex-big hair rocker” of the band Crystal Image, took center stage, rocking the heads of spectators and of white, pink and blue fairies in expertly blended, absolutely bedazzling fantasy makeup, created by J’s in-house artist, Dita Watson. Good job, my dear. DJ Passable Plastic spun the tunes.

We also spied several women taking a peek under their makeup. They used Terri Hartle Kerner and Via Medical Day Spa’s magic mirror box to see the damaging effects of prolonged sun exposure. Terri’s model demonstrated impressive before and incredible after results of her zippy-zappy-you’ll-be-happy laser treatments. Clearly effective.

The parking lot was filled with an eclectic mix of vintage autos, with T-Birds and Mustangs lined up neatly for all to admire. Among them: the premiere showing of a 1966 Lincoln owned by Bernard “The Executioner” Hopkins, who stayed busy executing autographs on T-shirts, programs, and boxing gloves.

All money raised helped Ronald McDonald House families with travel expenses, according to Pam Cornforth, executive director of Ronald McDonald House. The six weeks that it took Dave, Craig and crew to pull off the event “makes them the real champs.” Ding, ding, ding.

Page 3: A Bigger, Better Best

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A Bigger, Better Best

This year’s Best of Delaware Party—the 21st—was another epic, a showcase for all the First State’s first-rate stuff, which includes everything from ahi appetizers to zucchini fritters and Zinfandels. Even the parking lot backup—a battle between Besters and Blue Rocks fans bucking for Joe Biden bobbleheads—was the best worst-case scenario. “Just another indicator that you can’t say there’s not enough to do in Delaware,” local playwright Richard Gaw commented as he entered the Chase Center’s cool marble lobby with Glam Gal JoJami Tyler. JJ rocked a heat-beating white dress vertically striped with black grosgrain ribbon.

Another head turner were the spinners—not the famous Philadelphia musical group, but the talented twirlers who directed traffic to the Chase using rotating arrow-shaped signs from planner Planning Factory International. Owner Cher Przelomski, with daughter Lindsay Mastromateu, had to explain the 12 gold mannequin derrières that supported a lavish black and gold fantasy dining display. Just so you know, it advertised Decadent Dining, a collaboration between Planning Factory and Perfect Surroundings, that creates custom environments and menus for exclusive dinner parties.

Gabby Guy and his “wife,” Brenda Largent, spoke with general manager Mike Rivera at the Iron Hill Restaurant & Brewery booth while sampling Vienna Red lager, a gold medal winner at the annual Great American Beer Festival. Fresh.

Place your Betz. It’s no gamble when we talk with Tina Betz, director of cultural affairs for the City of Wilmington. Lady Tina, always at the center of the action, was revved up about the premiere of Wilmington Fringe last month, a multi-medium, visual and performing arts festival that stretched from Market Street to the Riverfront.

Inside the Chase’s rockin’ Christina Ballroom, best band Jellyroll showed award winners and guests some “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” by jamming crowd-pleasing classics. Our own hit list included hamachi and kajiki Tiradita on wasabi-cucumber seaweed from Harry’s Seafood Grill, El Jefe’s spicy shrimp with Spanish rice and soft quesadilla, Finlandia’s Mango Fusion vodka, and the succulent tomato-roasted corn-lump crab soup from the Hotel du Pont. “You gotta crack some crab backs to get something this good,” joked Dr. Heather Rooks of Synergy Chiropractic Wellness Center.

Nearby, “Doctor Donnie” Don Scalessa, owner of Café Scalessa’s in Wilmington, was dispensing his own feel-good prescription: homemade cheese gnocchi with roast pork gravy, as well as delectable bites of Italian double batter and butter cake, his grandmother Edith Stefano’s closely guarded recipe. Refill requested, doctor.

Double butter? It’s a good thing Hockessin Athletic Club manager John Peoples was demonstrating quick calorie burning exercises, while trainer Kevin McCabe tied a curious Carson Smith to their rope-pull exerciser. (Think automated tug of war.) Carson pulled the 100-foot rope in good time. Next up, biceps-baring Vicky Pettinaro bested Smith’s time—and in heels.

Also having fun were “slightly aging surfers” Teresa and Jim Ford, who wore sun visors with built-in crazycrimped hair. The head gear came from their Kid’s Ketch, a toy and fashion store in Lewes. The visors are available in black, brunette, blonde and gray for the rest of you aging beach lovers.

There was a mini mob scene at the space of talented jewelry designer Olga Ganoudis of Wilmington. A dramatically displayed necklace in silver and rose quartz had enticed and excited nearly 2,000 admirers to relinquish their info in exchange for a chance to win the Olga original. Hopeful winners clustered like blister pearls and suspense swelled as the lovely Olympia (Olga’s mother) did the honors, reading the selected raffle ticket number. And the winner is…you (if you attend next year’s Best of Delaware party). Ciao for now.

Our Best of Delaware Elimination Ballot is open through February 22!

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