The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort’s floor had the feel of the auld sod on March 20 when nearly 400 people of Irish descent and wannabes gathered for the ultimate in Hibernian-flavored frivolity at the 2010 Emerald Ball. Roman Catholic Bishop Frank J. Dewane of the Diocese of Venice mingled with attendees during the pre-dinner reception underwritten by Emerald partners Richard and Barbara Mack.
Hopping between bars and silent auction displays, partygoers jostled one another in recording written bids before entering a transformed dining room. Francesca Copeland and her design committee, with 50-Fifty Creative Services, had fashioned a green-tinted ambience that featured beribboned chairs and table centerpieces of green grass, Granny Smith apples and calla lilies rising from wire hurricane vases.
The Bob Gaffney Orchestra had dancers on the floor all evening, between courses of the surf and turf meal and formal portions of the program.
The evening’s highlight was the presentation of the newly-created James McTague Humanitarian Award by Bishop Dewane to Mary and Robert Carsello, both long time parochial activists. Mary Carsello is known not only throughout the community but around Collier County as well for her work for good causes; Bob Carsello is a business leader in the building/construction industry. The award was named for James McTague, who had served for many years as director for Catholic Charities both in Florida and in Washington, D.C.
Frank and Wenda Trunzo, Sentry Benefit Auctioneers from Plant City, actively worked the crowd in eliciting bids on four live auction items that brought a cool $80,000 total, including a weeklong cruise for three couples aboard the Bella Una motor yacht with a choice from four itineraries. Next up, an all-inclusive California retreat for four at the Benova Vineyard Hideaway, followed by two winning bids of $12,000 each for the opportunity to host Bishop Dewane at a special event with family and friends. Last came a pair of emerald drop-and-diamond earrings from Saks Fifth Avenue’s Nini Collection valued at $27,000.
The gala ended on the high note of a spirited Irish jig performed by Irish- born Rev. John Ludden of Saint John the Evangelist Church, who followed in the tradition of first Venice Diocese Bishop John J. Nevins.
Event chairwoman Judy Sullivan estimated the net amount raised will top $200,000 once all income including ticket sales at $250 per person is tallied. Proceeds will be distributed by Catholic Charities of Collier County to help vulnerable families help themselves. Event major sponsor was The Corbett Family Foundation.