The wow factor reigned throughout for 340 guests who flocked to the Ritz-Carlton Beach Resort on Nov. 3 for the 28th annual, black- tie Angel Ball supporting the Community School of Naples (CSN) Financial Aid Program.
Orchestrated in the hotel’s Vanderbilt Courtyard and within the adjacent ballroom, the gala featured a massive blue water dragon floating above the centrally situated bar where signature green cocktails were dispensed.
Strategically placed silent auction displays of 150 packages encircled the area. With electronic BidPal devices resembling cellphones in hand and a small army of uniformed student helpers ready to assist in their use, partygoers mingled, comparing summer travel adventures, nibbling on passed hors d’oeuvres and seeking out favored auction items.
Greek-born Stephanie Pezeshkan, a former ball chair wearing a stunning pendant necklace from her homeland — she and husband Fred had recently toured the Baltic — was absorbed in scouting the colorful displays of treasures appealing to adult collectors and youngsters as well. The items came in seven categories, including Incredible Edibles, Pack Your Bags and the Sporting Life.
Observed chatting: Clad in a strapless red gown, Philharmonic Center for the Arts CEO/President Kathleen van Bergen and newly arrived C’MON children’s museum director Andy Marquart, who had arrived in Naples only five days ago and was invited to attend by ball chairs Keith and Gina Short. (They are co-chairing with Patty and Jay Campbell.) Marquart said he is interested in forging ties with the school, especially in view of its physical proximity to the museum.
In general, female attire tended toward the exotic, with Jennie Cheng a standout in an embroidered red cheongsam purchased in Shanghai.
Once summoned by the resounding gongs as doors opened, the attendees hit the ballroom, barely stopping to identify their tables before crowding onto and around the stagefront dance floor where both elaborately costumed, authentic Chinese entertainers and CSN students brought Asia to life with traditional dragon dances and singing. It was inspired and led by 14 middle and upper school CSN students from the People’s Republic of China, and held the crowd in thrall as they performed with the fiercesomely friendly dragons.
The Ritz created the blue-and-white, Ming-dynasty nuanced décor with white tabletop floral displays with orchids predominating. Golden-hued bamboo shoots added oriental flavor notes to the Ming-design vases. Both lighting and table linens adhered to the color theme.
The live auction conducted by Scott Robertson drew total bids of 9,000, with the top lot, “Serene Solitude in Oregon,” going for ,000. Robertson even surrendered his vest for a ,000 bid and tie for ,500. A subsequent, nontaxable cash call for direct student scholarship financial aid topped out at ,000.
The Seattle-based Red Hot Band succeeded in vying with the dragons in keeping the danced floor filled ’til evening’s end.
Jane Badger, CSN director of special events, reported an early estimated net gross take of well over 0,000. Individual ball tickets were priced at 0 with sponsorship and underwriting donations elevating proceeds.