A sold-out crowd of 830 packed the Westin Convention Center on Fat Tuesday, where thousands of balloons, the Ray Ryan New Orleans Riverside Band and assorted entertainers led a parade down Bourbon Street.
OK, it was the lobby of the ballroom, but if you closed your eyes you could smell the beignets cooking and feel the Gulf breeze. The 19th Annual Mardi Gras Gala to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation Western/Central Pennsylvania was a smash bash as always. Fabulous jewels, sequined hats that flashed tiny lights, fine feathered masks, boas and bow ties covered the tables and put guests in a NOLA frame of mind. An open bar didn't hurt, and neither did the John Parker Band, which wasted no time getting the party started.
It's good to be King, or so thought Kim Tillotson Fleming, CEO of Hefren-Tillotson Inc. She made her grand entrance dressed as Cleopatra in a throne carried by Roman soldiers, with flower girls dusting her path with rose petals. Diane Holder of UPMC Health Plan crowned Ms. Fleming with a tiara -- talk about bling! Her court of dinner chairs included Dennis Unkovic, Laura Ellsworth, Michael Herald, Scott Lammie, Christy Uffelman, Anne Lewis (who was delayed at the airport) and her brother, Craig Tillotson. Jim Roddey served as emcee (like Jim, his jokes just get better with age!) and auctioneer for a painting by Raoul Duffy. EFWCP CEO Judy Painter was on hand to welcome guests, as was board vice president Deb Rice Johnson. Jordan Hinds gave an impressive and very moving talk about his experiences with epilepsy, a reminder of the wonderful work EFWCP does in 49 counties.
Enjoying a delicious dinner of greens with scallops and berries, a petite filet with shrimp a la Newburg and chocolate mousse beneath a ceiling covered in vintage umbrellas and, yes, more balloons were Epilepsy Foundation of America CEO Philip Gattone, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Luke Ravenstahl, Helen and Steve Casey, Dr. Loren and Ellen Roth, Tom and Becky McGough, Dick Barton, Morgan and Kathy O'Brien, Chatham University president Esther Barazzone, Shelly and Dan Onorato, Joyce and Bill Bender, Dennis and Annie Cestra, James and Doris Carson Williams, Dr. Don and Nora Fischer, Barbara and Bill McNees and Kathy and Lou Testoni.
Hefren-Tillotson sponsored the candy bar that found guests making s'mores late into the night. The evening's take was $350,000.
First Published February 19, 2013 5:00 AM