PetSet Celebrates With Virtual Gala Watch Party

By Jennifer Roosth      Photography by Quy Tran


THE SETTING: Even a global pandemic could not stop animal lovers’ kindness, as they rallied around a hybrid format of fundraising. Part virtual gala, part V.I.P. watch party on the much-loved Annie Café & Bar’s outdoor patio, PetSet’s first virtual Fierce and Fabulous Gala raised nearly $200,000 to support the Greater Houston area’s animal welfare groups.

THE STYLE: Animal lovers from Houston and across the country logged onto their device of choice to tune in to the soirée, hosted by Great Day Houston’s Deborah Duncan and Johnny Bravo Holloway. Meanwhile, Tena Lundquist Faust and Tama Lundquist, Houston PetSet’s co-presidents, celebrated the occasion by hosting a small patio gathering at The Annie Café & Bar. Personalized touches such as food and beverages prepared by Event Elementz and styled by local non-profit design house, Magpies and Peacocks were delivered to the homes of donors to coincide with the event.


The virtual program also included special guest appearances by Dr. Stephen Klineberg, founding director of the Kinder Institute for Urban Research, and Professor Emeritus of Sociology, at Rice University, and America’s Got Talent Season 13 semi-finalist Christina Wells, who added an emotional touch to the show with her performances of Cyndi Lauper’s True Colors and Mariah Carey’s Hero.


THE PURPOSE: The evening’s program kicked-off with a peek into the homes of supporters enjoying the watch parties across the city. The twin sisters then took the mic to thank their guests for joining them to support the cause. Together, the crowd of competitive contributors enjoyed the heartfelt program shining a light on positive animal welfare in Houston. This event not only marked a success for animal welfare but also showcased the resilience of the Houston fundraising community.


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Inaugural Fashion Event Benefits Italian Cultural & Community Center 

By Jennifer Roosth    Photography by Michelle Watson/Catchlight Group



THE SETTING: Pre-COVID-19, more than 250 guests gathered at The Junior League of Houston for the Inaugural Roman Holiday Fashion Show & Luncheon to support the Italian Cultural & Community Center.  The festive décor, provided by the ICCC Committee Members, took guests on a Roman Holiday theme. Tables were topped with centerpieces of red and white flowers with divine imported chocolate treats from Baratti & Milano. A mural of the Trevi fountain served as the backdrop for the Italian fashion runway show.


THE STYLE: Upon arrival, guests made their way into the courtyard to mix and mingle. Romolo Bianco from Amalfi Ristorante serenaded them as they participated in the Prosecco pull and raffle. As guests took their seats, the event chairs opened the luncheon with a few brief remarks. They then welcomed Erika Myers, the executive director of the Italian Cultural Community Center. She read a letter from the Consul General of Italy thanking the crowd for their support, followed by a high-spirited fashion show produced by the talented Jeanne Ruberti. The audience cheered as celebrity Houston models strutted down the runway in fashions by Elizabeth Anthony, Festari for Men, and Alice d’Italia.


THE PURPOSE: Roz Pactor and Terri Hogan Turner, the event’s co-chairs, were thrilled that the inaugural luncheon raised more than $130,000 for the Italian Cultural and Community Center’s scholarship program, which prior to this event had granted over $200,000 to college students. Models in the fashion show included Philamena Baird, Donae Chramosta, Monica Ercolani, Giorgio Floridia, Joyce Frassanito, Sam Governale, Mary Ann Hebrank, Renee Jongebloed, Gina Leck, Phyllis Mandola, Tony Mandola, Michael Patronella, Peter Remington, Tina Silvestri, and Dennis Wright with his entertaining Italian greyhound.


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San Luis Salute Event Wows Crowd  

By Jennifer Roosth   Photography by Gary Fountain and Dave Rossman

THE SETTING: Before COVID-19, the 24th annual San Luis Salute, hosted by the Tilman Fertitta family of Houston, was once again lauded with praise as almost 2000 revelers from across the country gathered for this year’s Mardi Gras! Galveston celebration. From the VIP pre-party on the boardwalk by Fertitta’s yacht to the stilt walkers, silver Elan dancers, and dueling DJs, the guests experienced a jaw-dropping night they will never forget at the Galveston Island Convention Center.

THE STYLE:  Gala designer Richard Flowers of the Events Co. brought the effervescence of a Scandinavian-inspired Royal Ice Garden to life for  partygoers who while marveling at the icy cool décor (including an ice tunnel entrance and life-sized ice sculptures of Nordic Vikings), sipped cocktails from a lavish ice bar and enjoyed Nordic Grogg―alcohol-infused sorbets perfectly frozen at -321ºF. The highlight of the night was when the Grammy® Award-winning duo, The Chainsmokers, took the stage for a 75-minute performance. The global superstars performed a variety of their platinum and multi-platinum smash hits during the stellar show, packing the black and white checkered dance floor.

The San Luis Salute Duchess Royal Court included Maddy Barlow, Arabella Benevidas, Samantha Bennett, Bailey Black, Natalie Crowder, Ally Day, Allison Denman, Jenna Faulkner, Mackenzie Finklea, Bella Garofalo, Abby Grant, Kathryn Hamilton, Madelyn Hilyard, Mandy Hutchings, Kate Kemple, Laura Kobs, Holly Kurisky, Frannie Kusnerik, Olivia McGuire, Haley Patterson, Heather Patterson, Nicole Shanks, Hannah Sukkar, and Annie Titterington.

THE PURPOSE: The gala evening honored Professor and Director Dr. Jeff Temple, of the newly launched Center for Violence Prevention at The University of Texas Medical Branch, and benefitted the UTMB at Galveston.

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Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Fourth Annual Power of Literacy Luncheon

By Jennifer Roosth     Photography by Jenny Antill and Michelle Watson

THE SETTING: Pre-COVID-19, the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation’s Ladies for Literacy Guild welcomed over 800 guests to the fourth annual Power of Literacy Luncheon at The Post Oak Hotel in Uptown Houston. The event featured OscarÒ-winning actress, singer and author, Julie Andrews, along with her daughter, Emma Walton Hamilton. The Events Company led by Richard Flowers, beautifully decorated the ballroom in light and royal blue linens with floral centerpieces, and a copy of Julie Andrew’s new biography, Home Work–A Memoir of My Hollywood Years was placed on every chair.

THE STYLE: This luncheon shined a light on the cause former First Lady Barbara Bush championed for nearly 30 years–literacy. The conversation with Andrews and Hamilton, moderated by Public Media’s Ernie Manouse, spanned a variety of topics including Andrews’ globally recognized entertainment career, her family life, and relationships. The mother-daughter duo kept the crowd entertained by sharing personal experiences from Andrews’ career, as well as the time they spent together writing more than 30 bestselling children’s books, as well as Andrews’ new biography. “Reading and writing has played an important role in both my professional career and my personal life for many, many years. Through our own books, Emma and I strive to not only entertain readers, but also to inspire them to experience the wonder of life,” said Julie Andrews. “We were so pleased to make Houston the first stop in our book tour and support the cause of literacy, which we are both so passionate about.”

THE PURPOSE: The event, co-chaired by Lilly Andress and Vicki West, raised $600,000 for the Barbara Bush Houston Literacy Foundation. The Ladies for Literacy Guild’s President Donatella Benckenstein joined the co-chairs on stage to share her remarks on the accomplishments of the Ladies for Literacy Guild, which included the building of children’s libraries at the Mission of Yahweh and New Hope Housing Reed. In addition, she shared that, through a partnership with Harris County Public Library, more than 25,000 books have been distributed and more than 7,000 children served by the original Curiosity Cruiser mobile library, which launched in late 2017.

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2020 Houston Ballet Ball Celebrates the 50th Anniversary

By Jennifer Roosth             Photography by Alida Bonifaz, Gary Fountain, Jacalyn Lawton, Wilson Parish, and Dave Rossman

THE SETTING:  For the first time since Hurricane Harvey, The Houston Ballet brought its annual event back to the Wortham Theater Center, its performance home, to celebrate an unforgettable golden 50th anniversary Ballet Ball. More than 400 guests clad in black tie made their way through Fish Plaza, with its shining runway covered in red carpet and lined with spotlights into the Wortham Theater. The room had been transformed into a glamourous golden palace, a nod to the 50th anniversary, by Richard Flowers of The Events Company. Tables covered in a mix of sparkling gold linens and mirrors lit the room. The look was elegantly completed by lush cream floors that paralleled crystal and custom gold chandeliers delicately suspended throughout the room.

THE STYLE:  Upon entering the theater, guests were greeted by Houston Ballet Academy dancers who donned gold costumes from classic Houston Ballet performances. The dinner, prepared by Jackson and Company, began with a golden caviar French macaron, black truffle and potato panna cotta followed by Lobster Bisque hand-poured by the servers–an elegant touch. The main course was a perfectly aged Angus beef tenderloin with haricots verts, rainbow baby carrots, polenta with caramelized shallots, and a gorgonzola tart.

For dessert, guests enjoyed Chocolat a la Margaret, a gold-painted chocolate sphere filled with chocolate mousse, hazelnut dacquoise, and glacé raspberries in honor of the tireless support of longtime patron Margaret Alkek Williams for her dedication, leadership, and commitment to the organization. As dessert was served, company dancers emerged from their seats and surrounding entrances surprising guests with a choreographed piece by Houston Ballet First Soloist, Oliver Halkowich. Guests were captivated by this moment and erupted in applause when Artistic Director Stanton Welch and Executive Director Jim Nelson joined the surprise performance. As the impromptu production came to an end, the dancers rolled out a commemorative nine-foot cake, adorned with 50th anniversary candles, onto the dance floor before the gold confetti grand finale.

THE PURPOSE:  Beth and Nick Zdeblick chaired the event this year, while Phoebe and Bobby Tudor served as honorary chairs. The annual event raised nearly $1.8 million for the Houston Ballet, making it the most successful Ballet Ball in its history, and this over-the-top golden anniversary event will not soon be forgotten.


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Asia Society Tiger Ball Creates More Success

By Jennifer Roosth       Photography by Daniel Ortiz and Leah Wilson

THE SETTING:  Asia Society’s 2020 Tiger Ball, Celebrating the Elegance of Japan, honored Texas’ iconic and beloved champion of the arts, legendary philanthropist Lynn Wyatt. Welcoming 725 guests, it was more people than at any other event since the building opened in 2012. The Events Company created a Japanese-inspired spring paradise, transporting attendees to another world and season. A pink carpet lined with Japanese cherry blossom trees and special lighting served as a lovely pathway into the venue, which is itself an award-winning work of art, created by famed Japanese architect Yoshio Taniguchi.

THE STYLE:  The evening was indeed an exquisite celebration of the elegance of Japan. An entire truckload of Japanese cherry blossom branches decorated the Center and the Gala Pavilion, plus white Phalaenopsis orchids, roses, pink orchids, Vanda orchids, magnolia Japonica, fringed tulips, Asclepias, and a new breed of tulip known as the Leo spider tulip. Flowers were sourced from Thailand, Holland, and Oregon, and totaled approximately 10,000 blooms. Japanese taiko drummers led the way into the lavishly decorated 80’x181’ gala pavilion that transformed the Asia Society’s exterior space. Dozens of origami-inspired cranes and white rice paper and feather lanterns dotted the ceiling. Several oak trees outside the venue were adorned with cherry blossom branches to add to the Japanese springtime ambiance. A sumptuous Japanese-inspired menu, created by City Kitchen was served, featuring okonomiyaki pancakes with smoked duck, as well as tuna tartar, Wagyu beef tataki, spring rolls, edamame and jasmine rice cake, jumbo lump crab with melon, miso-glazed sea bass, and kabocha squash timbale. 

THE PURPOSE:  Kathy and Marty Goossen, and Akemi and Yasuhiko Saitoh co-chaired the event. Honorary chairs Kathy and Glen Yoshiaki Gondo, Wendy and Jeff Hines, Stephanie and Frank Tsuru, Brenda and Marc Watts, Donna Fujimoto Cole, and Shota Kondo were also recognized. A total of $1.34 million was raised in support of Asia Society’s programs in arts and culture, business and policy, education, and community outreach to enrich and engage the vast diversity of Houston.

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