A singing gondolier, courtesy of Opera Naples, serenaded arriving guests — a number of of them masked — at the Nov. 14 Italian-themed Venetian Voyage to support NCH Foundation at Naples Grande Beach Resort.
In fact, masks drew a lot of attention among the 545 attendees. NCH President & CEO Dr. Allen Weiss could have passed for a Venetian noble while NYC visitor Amy Zoler “masked” her spectacles behind gigantic, rhinestone-encircled sunglasses. Barbara Meek and a red-bereted Bill Meek with a greatly extended nose had actually bought their masks in Venice.
Vicki Tracy was in gold from her mask, a gift from her boss, to her toes. Ramona Paine sported a molded, black “laser” metal mesh “lace” mask. Karen Madwar was drenched in black feathers from mask to boa. Kristy Iannarelli and Holly Diefenthaler could have dropped in from outer space in their sleek, matching eye masks.
Others didn’t wear masks but came ready for Venetian sparkle. Daphne McCartney came in silver, including a shawl of small silver leather paillettes from Marissa Collections. FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw was the epitome of ”cutting edge elegance, “ according to wife Jo Anna; he even wore a garden motif waistcoat that matched the decor.
The Kenny Lehman Orchestra of Miami and New York held forth in the ballroom and kept the dance floor filled, while the Philharmonic String Quartet sweetened the pre-dinner social time with Italian classics as patrons browsed a generous inventory of silent-auction items.
Floral print tablecloths and massive arrangements of roses by Sweet Charity/Kimberley Speer Miller continued the romantic, 18th century Venetian theme. Natasha Alveshire of Fleur de Lis Event Designs planned the evening.
Dr. Howard L. Cohen and Erin Raney, R.N., were named physician and nurse of the year for NCH Healthcare System. The honorees were selected by colleagues based on their excellence in clinical care, relationships with patients and colleagues, moral and ethical conduct and community commitment.
Auctioneers Mayor Bill Barnett and auction pro Jon Foege elicited a tidy $40,000 in total live auction bids plus another $1,000 for a home-cooked meal at the Barnett home.
Ball vice chairs Matt Mathias, Brenda O’Connor and Sharon Treiser and the 2009 committee were responsible for the success of the ball, which raised a gross amount of about $600,000. Proceeds will benefit the NCH Orthopedic Center of Excellence. The sum included revenues from auctions, tickets sales at $475 per person, patrons, underwriters and sponsorships.