I’ve thought about this over the years, and people ask me all the time “What was the best party you ever covered?” It’s hard to narrow the best 10 over the past decade so I went with 15, here goes… PS if you were involved in any of these events by providing the decor, please write me at buzz @phillychitchat.com At the time I sometimes know and like to include that info in the columns.
These days the Fairmount Conservancy hosts a lovely gala at the Horticultural Center in Fairmount Park, but years ago they used to hold a garden party in the Azalea Garden on Kelly Drive (this shot is from 2011). I always loved it there as the gardens are so pretty and the guests dressed in garden attire. There were also carriage rides that would take guests on short rides through out the park, tea sandwiches and cocktails.
Relatively new and coming up again October 6 – The 23rd Street Armory Oktoberfest by Brauhaus Schmitz
A great idea, executed with nearly no problems as far I could see. A weekend of sessions joyous with German song, dance, food, brew and smiles all around. The decor and concept was done by the folks at Brauhaus like owner Doug Hager, GM Vanessa Beahn, and Executive Chef, Jeremy Nolen. Aversa PR did the publicity.
The Philles Phanatic with Julia Sala at Little Stars Gala, where kids fighting cancer at area hospitals, enjoy a night of glamour and fun. Notable MC’s over the years including Erin Elmore, Alex Holley, Mike Jerrick with Stacey Kracher helping with the media and production.
Before there was a Philadelphia Fashion Week, there was local realtor Jamie Reibenbach’s fashion shows at Public House in the mid 00s. Jamie was always able to recruit fun Philly notables to walk the catwalk like Doug Kammerer, former CBS3 Philly weatherman. The fashion shows were a monthly event, along with other fun events she held for charity.
Philadelphia Phillies’ All-Star Second Baseman, Chase Utley and wife Jennifer Utley team up with the City of Philadelphia Mural Arts to fund-raise. They were the first of the Phillies of the 00s establish a foundation and to host annual soirees for them The Annual Utley All Stars, saving domestic animals. Nicole Cashman, Cashman & Assocs produced, publicized and executed their events.
The Shane Victorino Foundation Fashion Show was hosted at Union League and was always a good time. Here’s Hunter Pence on the catwalk as Jamie Moyer, Mitch Williams and Shane Victorino look on.
One of the best events was conceived by Megan Smith, Brownstone PR, who created Philly’s Dancing With The Stars” to benefit Sickle Cell Anemia. The event had a strong, successful run for about 4 years and was able to attract many Philadelphia notables, including socialite, philanthropist Dana Spain, Sabrina Tamburino, GN Kang, Michael Callahan, Michael Days, Erin Elmore and so many others.
These folks had to invest serious time to learn how to dance in order to compete for the “disco ball,” The judges were very serious about determining who would win and included legendary dancer Joan Myers Brown is the founder of The Philadelphia Dance Company (PHILADANCO), Sen Larry Farnese and Thom Cardwell, man about town.
Elizabeth Wellington, Jenice Armstrong and Jimmy Contrearas with prizes
The Annual Ritz Carlton Oscar Viewing Party was always a smashing success; judging was also fierce for fashion of the evening, but no one went home a loser if they were able to grab a gift bag before they were all gone.
In later years they set up stations where people could grab a bag and fill their own gift bag with swag
Vlahos PR with Matt Vlahos and Jimmy Contrearas
The Barnes Opening Gala was one to remember. The who’s who of Philadelphia Society – Anne Hamilton, John Middleton, and Leigh Middleton were on hand for the fundraiser which was Emceed by Brian Williams, as the crowd enjoyed dinner and entertainment by Norah Jones. Even legendary photographer Bill Cunningham stopped by to take photos for the NY Times .
Gerry Ellis, Global Conservation Prize recipient and Joan C. Hendricks, VMD, PhD, Philadelphia Zoo Board Vice Chair – The Zoo Gala is one of the most beautiful events and they give out the most exquisite award to their honorees.
The room is always decorated incorporating elements of the zoo, as well as decor from the jungle (created and inspired by Zoo employee Mary Love, Dana Lombardo and their team).
Philadelphia International Festival of the Arts (PIFA) was an ingenious idea, and we are so fortunate to have this event that happens every couple years in Philadelphia. Curated by the Kimmel Center for the Performing Arts, PIFA, reappears for its fourth edition in 2018 to build on its events in 2011, 2013 and 2016. PIFA 2018 Gala’s is 5/31/18
PAWS Dinner, where popular restaurants in Philadelphia recreate their eatery at a gala location and serve a three course meal for guests and sponsors. I came on the scene when the event was held at the Union League, but eventually it outgrew the building and was held at the Linc. Philadelphia Animal Welfare Society or PAWS (raising money to make Pa a no kill state.) was founded by Dana Spain. The PAWS dinner skipped a few years, but on October 2 there will be another one. TICKETS HERE
Champagne anyone? Hair of the Dog an extension of a New Year’s Eve party.
Started by two friends – Dan Cronin and Robert Molinaro, Metro Communications, who wanted to celebrate the new year with their friends, especially the ones they didnt spend New Year’s Eve with. It’s been going on for over 20 years, and has been held all over town even on a Missisippi riverboat docked at Penns Landing.
Buffy E. Harakidas | Director of Marketing and her team at Metro Communications. PR by Jennifer Sherlock, Jenna Communications.
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen, Children’s Book Author reads her book “Tyrannosaurus Wrecks” at THE STORYBOOK BALL, they used to have it at night, but switched it to the day time so the little ones can maintain their sleep schedule. I highly recommend this event for families, uncles or aunts to take the kids. So fun. Adults dress up as well.
Started by Renee and Don Freeman – Donors Are Heroes is a group of dedicated friends, committed to raising public awareness for the importance of becoming an organ and tissue donor, to dispel myths and provide a means for people to share their donation wishes with family and friends. Their party is always in April, and it’s always fun. It’s a dessert, dancing and getting down with your friends event. Don’t take your organs to heaven. Donate.
The UNCF Mayor’s Masked Ball Philadelphia is fabulous. I always enjoy photographing it as guests wear the most fabulous masks, and it’s for a great cause. The event draws the most fabulous of notables. I once photographed Billy Paul there ie Me and Mrs Jones, who didn’t love that song growing up. On the red carpet is Mayor Michael Nutter and First Lady Lisa Nutter.
Thanks to Mayor Michael Nutter for attracting so many great events to Philadelphia, including the Pope’s visit, the DNC, the amazing development and growth in the City we’re experiencing and one of my favorite events,
Made In America. That might come as a surprise to some people as I have complained of the driving/parking restrictions in my neighborhood, but Made in America was one of those defining events that made a difference in Philadelphia and put us on the map of being able to handle large scale events. I really enjoyed covering the event for the first 4 years, and although I could have covered it this year I realized it’s too much for me to spend the entire day there. Up until the 5th year they allowed media to leave the festival grounds and take a break. I live across the street, it was a treat to go home and return after a few hours. I look forward to the coverage this year, and hearing if it’s going to come back again as this is the last year of the “contract.” I am giving away tickets to the weekend event if you follow directions on my instagram.
The Annual Charity Flip Cup Tournament to benefit MS and a rotating local charitable organization.
Created by Chatterblast and held at Field House every year.
It’s always a blast
My 80s Prom Birthday and my luck 7th Annual Philly Chit Chat Anniversary Party in 2013 at Sky Garten, which raised funds for Gilda’s Club, in three years I raised $30ks in my sisters name who passed away of ovarian cancer.
Thanks to the Cabot Cheese for honoring me this year for my charitable contributions for my pro bono charity work. American Foundation of Suicide Prevention for honoring me with the
Humanitarian Award in 2015 for my volunteer work, the Linda Creed Foundation for honoring me as Volunteer of the Year in 2014 (volunteered for nearly 10 years now) and for
Here’s Your Chance and Mayor Nutter for surprising and honoring me with the “Do Good” Award in 2012.
The Philadelphia Library Gala – Wonderland which was produced by Fred Stein
Both Virgin Airlines and Qatar Airlines had big fancy launch parties in Philadelphia. Virgin Airlines had their star studded party at the Palomar. Celebs including Amber Rose, Terrance Howard, Penn Badgely, Seth Green, DJ Jazzy Jeff, and Sir Richard Branson walked the red carpet, as well as Boyz II Men, who also appeared at the QATAR Airways launch party held a year later at the Ritz Carolton, where they performed in front of a crowd of who’s who society and hospitality in Philadelphia. Maria Papadakis was the hostess with the mostess, and was hired to launch Qatar in a half dozen other North American cities.
The Number One Event of the Decade is any of the Diner en Blanc’s. Thank you Natanya DiBona and Kayli Moran, co-hosts of Diner en Blanc for bringing the fabulous pop up dinner to Philadelphia, and for enduring the grief that surprisingly came along with it.
Can’t wait until next year, where will you put 5400 people?