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Party Scene

May 19, 2016

The Party: Bourbon-lovers and cigar aficionados came together for a luxurious evening of food, fundraising, and plenty of drink-sipping at the historic William Aiken house. The event raised money for Maryland-based non-profit, an organziation that advocates, educates, and supports injured youth athletes and their families.

Highlight: Guests sported all manner of bow tie styles—from peacock and pheasant feathers to rustic carved wood. 

Overheard: ”You wouldn’t think to put bacon and cake together but these (chocolate bacon cake pops) are amazing!”


May 13, 2016

The Party: Donning glittery gowns and dashing suits, guests mingled over canapés and cocktails before moving into the Charleston Area Convention Center ballroom for a dinner, a live auction, and an evening of great performances. Local celebrities, paired with professional dancers from Fred Astaire Dance Studio, vied for the winning title. Event chairs and alumni dancers also performed while votes were tallied bakstage. Kathy Richter Downey, co-founder of social club McKee's at 139B, took home the sparkling disco ball trophy as the 2016 Oxygen Ball winner.

Highlight: The crowd went wild when Dwayne M. Green and his dance partner, Galina Maiduc, performed "The Charleston.”

Overheard: “I’d like to tell my competitors, ‘Don’t do well and let me do better!’” —Kathy Richter Downey, before taking the stage

Beneficiary: American Lung Association 

May 14, 2016

The Party: Beneath a sizzling summer sun, guests meandered through The Grove at Patriot’s Point for a day of eating, drinking, and dancing at the fifth annual Charleston Beer Garden for Lowcountry AIDS Services. Food trucks—including Avila Venezuelan Cuisine, The Barbeque Joint, Caribbean Creole, and Big-Boned Barbeque—circled the park. The main attrractions, of course, were the 20-some regional breweries serving guests cold three-ounce samples. As crowds sipped their beer, they swayed along to the music of DJ Trail Mix, King Sing, Andy Masker Band, and The Dubplates.

Highlight: Local homebrewers gathered in the Homebrewer’s Village, proudly offering samples of their unique beers to a crowd of thirsty guests; several competed in a homebrewing competition. 

Overheard (a lot): “Cheers!”

Beneficiary: Lowcountry AIDS Services


May 12, 2016

The Party: For the seventh annual Gibbes on the Street party, guests were transported to the heart of China’s Forbidden City, where 27 top area restaurants served inventive small bites including dishes like octopus kimchi, kung pao chicken, and crab fried rice. Partygoers crowded the street in front of the Gibbes Museum of Art for this year’s sold-out event, donning all manner of Eastern-themed apparel. All proceeds from the event benefit the Gibbes, which reopens May 28 after nearly two years of renovations.

Highlight: Taiko Charleston drummers beat wildly on their drums as a “dragon” snaked and swerved through the crowded street. 

Overheard: “You're my hero!”—guests were star-struck when they realized that top chefs like Sean Brock, Michelle Weaver, and Jacques Larson were serving their own dishes. 

Beneficiary: The Gibbes Museum of Art 

Photographs By: Ruta Elvikyte

May 7, 2016

The Party: The South Carolina Aquarium hosted a special celebration highlighting its educational programs that reach more than 30,000 school children statewide each year. After cocktails in and outside the aquarium, guests moved to Liberty Square, where they enjoyed a multi-course dinner from Cru Catering. An InterTech Group awards ceremony honored the work of seven South Carolina schoolteachers, along with Beth Demas, the aquarium’s distance-education programs coordinator. Beverly Wise, vice president and general manager of Boeing South Carolina, accepted the 2016 Environmental Stewardship Award for Visionary STEM Leadership. An after-affair followed on the Bluestone patio, with dessert and music from 17 South. 

Highlight: During cocktail hour, guests got up-close-and-personal with several aquarium creatures—from jellyfish in a portable tank to a baby alligator and two snakes. 

Overheard: “King Louis is nonvenomous and native to South Carolina. You can often tell if a snake is nonvenomous because it’ll have a smaller head. This guy’s a good one to have in your garden—he’ll eat other snakes.” —Jamie Thom, aquarium education staff member 

Beneficiary: More than $268,000 was raised for the South Carolina Aquarium’s education programs.

May 7, 2016

The Party: Sixty-three teams from Charleston and the surrounding area participated in the ninth annual Dragon Boat Charleston Festival, raising more than $180,000 for cancer survivors. Each team consisted of 20 paddlers and one drummer and raced in three heats between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. Between races, paddlers enjoyed food truck fare from Wild Wieners, King of Pops, Triple R Brisket Wagon, Happy Thai Food Truck, Carolina Corn, and Charleston Chicken. The party lasted well into the early evening as festival-goers hula-hooped, line-danced, and ordered up at the ”name your own price” margarita bar. The Folly Beach Wahines took home first place overall, the PGF Paddlers took home second place, and the SCPA Ship Happens finished in third. 

Highlight: Executive director Meagan Labriola announced that the survivor ceremony would be renamed ”To the Spirit of Sylvia Suvivor Celebration” to honor the memory of Dragon Boat Charleston legend, Syvlia Huskey, who passed away in April 2016.  

Overheard: ”Watch out for ’What the Truck’!” —A paddler leapt out of the way of the fun committee’s decked-out golf cart, aptly named, ”What the Truck.”

Beneficiary: Dragon Boat Charleston 

April 28, 2016

The Party: Spoleto SCENE (Support Connect Experience Network Enjoy) is an arts-loving group of Spoleto Festival USA patrons in their 20s and 30s who support the Festival through affordable gift levels. SCENE hosted a Spoleto season kick-off party feauturing numerous local vendors and popular deejay, DJ Rehab. Guests sipped on cocktails from Bar Mash, The Westendorff, The Rooftop at Vendue, and Cathead Vodka, and enjoyed hors d'ouevres from Bohemian Bull, Hamby Catering, Poogan’s Smokehouse, The Drawing Room, and Cirsea Ice Cream.  

Highlight: Networking was made enjoyable as partygoers congregated around food and drink vendors and met new acquaintances through co-workers and friends. 

Overheard:  I better see you on the dance floor!” 

Beneficiary: Spoleto Festival USA

The Party: The Sophia Institute, a center of learning founded 15 years ago by Carolyn Rivers, provides programs and retreats that promote wisdom and mindfulness for a more sustainable world. The center hosted Ellen Burstyn, beloved Acadaemy Award-winning actress, advocate, and storyteller, for a talk followed by a garden reception and book signing. Burstyn shared several stories and poems that touched upon ideas of human potential, empathy, honesty, integrity, and forgiveness. After the talk, audience members were invited to participate in a Q & A session. A reception in the green space adjacent to Memminger Auditorium followed; guests enjoyed wine from Mira Winery and hors d'oeuvres from Fork Catering. 

Highlight: Burstyn signed copies of her book, Lessons in Becoming Myself, and chatted with gleeful admirers. 

Overheard: “It’s funny that this has gotten to be the place where I bring my lessons.”—Burstyn on her love of the Sophia Institute and the city of Charleston. 

Beneficiary: The Sophia Institute

By Hooper Schultz

The Party: An enthusiastic crowd gathered on a beautiful day to celebrate Lowcountry Local First's biggest fundraiser of the year, the 9th annual Chef's Potluck. More than 20 local chefs—including Craig Deihl of Cypress and Jeremiah Bacon of The Macintosh—served up small plates for hungry attendees, using ingredients graciously donated by Lowcountry farmers. Guests sipped drinks from purveyors such as Firefly Distillery, Palmetto Brewing, Grassroots Wine Wholesalers, COAST Brewing, and Cannonborough Beverage Co. After the feast, Lowcountry Local First staff led a charity auction that raised $10,000 for the organization's Growing New Farmers progam.  

Highlight: The Garage Cuban Band, led by bassist and frontman Jonathan Gray, entertained guests all afternoon. 

Overheard: “Wow, the best weather on the best day. And a strawberry-bourbon milkshake doesn't hurt!"—Renee Singletary 

Beneficiary: Lowcountry Local First

The Party: Memminger Auditorium was transformed into a South American oasis for the 19th annual Charleston Heart Ball. For the first two hours, guests enjoyed an alfresco cocktail reception around two “tiki” bars, brightly colored tall tables, and flamingo statues. Guests were then led inside for a seated three-course dinner, served by catering company Mosaic. WCBD News 2 anchors Carolyn Murray and Brendan Cark emceed the event and 2016 chairman Chris Randoph thanked guests for coming out to support the American Heart Association. Guests were given boas and hats to wear, and bidders participated in a spirited live auction for prizes including a Belize getaway, a cocktail party for 50 courtesy of Snynder Events, Mosaic Catering, and Sea Breeze Marina, a london blue topaz and diamond ring courtesy of Skatell's, and artwork from artists Karen Larson Turner, Laura Lloyd Fontaine, and Dee Beard Dean.

Highlight: The 2016 Open Your Heart honorees, Frank, Jamie, and Charles Anderson Kerr had the audience in tears as they told Charles' story. Born with a rare and complex congenital heart defect, the Kerr’s son had to undergo a six-hour surgery to save his life. Wearing a miniature tux and pink bowtie, the toddler delighted and inspired guests with his happy smile.

Overheard: “Get a picture of me with the parrot—wait, are those real?” (a surprised guest posed next to a life-like stuffed parrot inside the event). 

Beneficiary: American Heart Association

The Party: Despite less than perfect weather, hordes of plant-lovers came out for the Charleston Horticultural Society’s 15th annual Plantasia Eve Party. Guests were able to peruse (and purchase) plants of all kinds at the event’s new expansive and verdant location, West Ashley’s Old Towne Creek County Park. Salthouse Catering played to theme and served up a fresh and decadent “best of season” display with roasted asparagus, mustard braised cauliflower, seasonal sliced fruits and veggies, sweet potato ham biscuits, and more. Guests enjoyed special “Plantasia” cocktails by Firefly and tunes by Charleston-based bluegrass band YeeHaw Junction. An hour into the festivities, four gardening masters competed in an Iron Trowel competition. Winner Carol Poloski received an iron trowel from the Philip Simmons Blacksmith Guild for her beautiful windowbox design.

Highlight: George Hyams, owner of Hyams Garden Center, was celebrated as the Guest of Honor and presented with a plaque for his tireless efforts to preserve and better the Charleston horticultural community. Landscape architect Sheila Wertimer made a heartfelt speech for her longtime friend and colleague: “The Charleston Horticultural Society would not be where it is today without him.”

Overheard: “How many succulents are too many succulents?”

Beneficiary: Charleston Horticultural Society

By: Grae Adair

April 2, 2016

The Party:

The Charleston Animal Society transformed the Gaillard Center into a glamorous, old Hollywood dream to launch it's new initiative, Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund. Guests donning 1930s black-tie apparel were greeted on the red carpet with signature cocktails like the Firefly Furry and the ManCATtan. Attendees danced to beach and soul classics perfomed by In The Pocket and snacked on hearty hors d'oeuvres provided by Stephen Duvall Catering. Charleston Animal Society CEO Joe Elmore later introduced special guest, pit bull Caitlyn, and spoke on behalf of Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund and its mission to help prevent, investigate, and prosecute animal abuse cases. Guests were ushered to a surprise after-party, a Speakeasy-style cocktail bar in the next room. An aerial dancer swung high above the bar to greet on-lookers and those testing their luck at the blackjack tables. 


Guest of honor, Caitlyn, the pit bull who was found in critical condition with her muzzle taped shut, took the stage and was in high spirits as guests placed bids in order to save one animal's life. By the end of the night, guests raised around $75,000 for Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund. 


"This [Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund] isn't just about fixing animal cruelty, it's about fixing our society as a whole." --Elizabeth Bradham, Charleston Animal Society President 


The Charleston Animal Society, Caitlyn's Anti-Cruelty Fund 


Photographs By: Mike Powell

Kacie Meixel

March 12, 2016

The Party: Flooding prevented the initially scheduled Hogs for the Cause in October. Determined to still raise funds and awareness for their charity, five restaurants and BBQ joints came together for a smaller—but still impressive—rendezvous in front of the new Home Team BBQ downtown location. With live music by Guilt Ridden Troubadour in the background, guests were treated to specialty creations from the eateries, including pork sliders with avocado and slaw and Home Team's elite boudin balls. Participating vendors included Home Team BBQ, The Atlantic Room Restaurant at Kiawah Island Golf Resort, Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House, Edmund's Oast, and Fox Bros. Bar-B-Q from Atlanta, with beers from Revelry Brewing Co. and Coast Brewing Co. 


Highlight: Hogs for the Cause Charleston is an extention of the main event in New Orleans, which has raised more than $500,000 and has given grants to more than 300 families in the past six years. 100% of the funds raised from the event provide aid and relief of the economic burdens associated with pediatric brain cancer. As Jon Vanta from The Atlantic Room Restaurant at Kiawah Island Golf Resort notes, traditionally at the event "you get to meet the kids and families who receive the money; so while it's a good party, it's an even better cause."


Overheard: "Food, beer, music, and people. What's not to love?" —Matthew Haid, Craftsmen Kitchen & Tap House

March 11, 2016

By: Grae Adair

The Party:

The Gibbes Museum of Art’s sixth annual Art of Design Luncheon was an afternoon inspired by 18th-century jewels and design. Guest of honor, Andrew Prince, brought a treasure trove of his fine crystal jewelry designs (think vintage-inspired tiaras, bracelets, earrings, and more), including exclusive pieces from the hit series Downton Abbey. Prince later spoke of the traditions and fashions from the 1890s to 1929. After browsing and trying on jewelry, guests sat at tables adorned with beautiful arrangements by Jane and Gretchen Florals. On the menu, a maple-glazed frenched chicken with shiitake mushrooms and caramelized onions was served for the main course and a carrot cake for dessert, all provided by the Marriot Charleston. The Gibbes Women's Council has raised a total of $175,000 from its Art of Design luncheons for the Gibbes Museum's Capital Campaign. The newly renovated building will feature a gift shop in the council's honor, "The Gibbes Women's Gift Shop." 


Guests had the opportunity to try on the treasures and speak to the designer about his work and, of course, the Dowager Countess of Grantham.


"You don't know how regal feels until you wear a tiara, especially one worn by Maggie Smith!" --Angela Mack, Executive Director 


The Gibbes Museum of Art Capital Campaign 


Written by Caitlin Gill

The Party: 

Food, wine, music, and revelry: Charleston Wine + Food kicked off its 11th festival with a huge “Cheers to Charleston” opening party at the Gaillard Center. There, 600 guests milled about tasting a variety of Lowcountry-inspired dishes by more than 20 local chefs, sipping wine, and trying the official 2016 Festival Cocktail, the Bon Vivant by Iouli Burroughs of Fish.


Cypress chef Craig Deihl amazed guests with his Beef Tartare dish, including a candle made of fat trimmed from the beef. As the candle melted, he slowly dripped the sauce over the dish.


"Have you seen the Gastronaut? I want a selfie with the Gastronaut!"

By Amy Luke


The Party: 

There was something for everyone at East Cooper Land Trust's annual Race & Roast. Taking place at the beautiful Oakland Plantation in Mt. Pleasant, a sunny 5K run among the towering oaks stirred appetites for all-you-can-eat oysters, chili, hot dogs, and local Palmetto Brewery ales. While families enjoyed live music from Solid Country Gold from their lawn chairs, children were treated to bouncy bounces and face painting. 



Furthering the message of conservation and environmentalism, representatives from Resource Recovery helped guests sort their recyclable and compostable paper products and trash.  



East Cooper Land Trust

Kacie Meixel

February 27, 2016

The Party: With 27 years of success in Charleston, Communities in Schools (CIS) has grown from one school and one staff member to 25 schools and almost 40 staff members. The organization has helped nearly 1.5 million students and their families get access to essential resources to stay in school and achieve in life. The 25th Annual Chocolate Affair was held in February to assist CIS in its mission, while offering some of the best desserts in the Lowcountry for guests to indulge. Including donations from two dozen local kitchens, the focal point of the room was a huge chocolate display comprised of cakes, brownies, and puddings. Through live and silent auctions, a 50/50 raffle, and donations, thousands of dollars were raised for the charity. 


Highlight: 2016 Unsung Heroes Award winner Precious Oliver Alexander wrote a letter to be read at the beginning of the ceremony. As a CIS alumni, she wrote of her gratitude for the organization for recognizing her potential and providing stability in an otherwise volatile life. Before becoming a part of the organization, she questioned, "Who will be there for me if I am lost within myself?" and Communities in Schools provided a support system rooted in her success. After serving two tours of duty in Afghanistan, Alexander is currently pursuing a degree in Cyber Security. 


Overheard: "I hear people say we can't save every kid, but I think that we can." —Ms. Liberty, Communities in Schools Site Coordinator

By: Grae Adair

The Party:

The Spoleto Festival’s annual fundraising auction at the Cigar Factory’s Cedar Room buzzed with converstation as patrons of the arts mingled while supporting the city's flagship festival. Guests sipped cocktails and endulged in savory dishes such as the butter-poached grouper and desserts including a flourless chocolate cake and amaretto cheesecake. Later in the evening, as the auctioner began presenting unique items such as weekend getaways to St. Kitts and private dinners at some of Charleston's finest restaurants, guests began a lively bidding war to see who would go home with the most prized auction items. 

The Highlight:

Guests were encouraged to get up and dance to funk and soul classics played by Mike Quinn & The Charleston 80. 


"Cheers! I love the competition of out bidding my neighbor--all for a great cause of course!" 


The Spoleto Festival USA Orchestra

By: Grae Adair

The Party:

The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition's annual DockDogs competition always promises to make a big splash. Spectators filed in and crowded around the 30,000-gallon tanks of water at Brittlebank Park as canines of all breeds and sizes prepared to take the leap off the 40-foot dock after rubber dummies. Owners and their dogs competed in three categories, Big Air, Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve. In between waves, live bluegrass music played by the Bluestone Ramblers and attendees were encouraged to walk around, sip cold beverages, shop vendors, feed the animals in the petting zoo, or satisfy a sweet tooth with a funnel cake and other carnival foods. 


The Highlight: While you had to register competing dogs in advance, SEWE attendees were welcome to bring their pets of all shapes and sizes to come out and support their fellow canine friends and enjoy the day's festivities. 


Overheard: "I'm pretty sure the most friendly and well-behaved dogs are right here in Charleston." 


Beneficiary: Southeastern Wildlife Exposition


By: Kadie Anderson

The Event:

The Southeastern Wildlife Exposition was in full swing at Brittlebank Park on Saturday, February 12th.  Joined by our four legged friends, attendees enjoyed visiting the many commercial booths presenting outdoors goods, like duck calls, camouflage, and hunting dogs.  A local petting zoo brought some of the cutest pygmy our eyes have ever beheld and the daring few did flips on a trapeze trampoline.  Our spirits soared when we witness some very happy dogs leaping and splashing at the Dock Dogs competition, accompanied by some great live music played by The Blue Stone Ramblers band. All in all, it was a darn-tootin’ fun day!

The Highlight:

John Irwin, our designated fly fisher instructor with Charleston Angler, showed off his amazing casting arm at 2 p.m. to an attentive crowd in the center of the festivities! Who knew such a seemingly calm sport could be so intricate and enthralling?


"If you go into it (fly fishing) thinking everyday is going to be the best day, you're going to be disappointed... but I'm rarely disappointed."