Society: A look at the year's best charity events

Chuck Bennett
Special to The Detroit News

Nobody throws a better party for a cause than Metro Detroiters. Here’s a quick look back at some of best society events of 2019.

Make a Wish

An intimate group, including some of Detroit’s fiercest movers and shakers, gathered at the Birdy Room in the Shinola Hotel on April 11 at the request of Chris and Jennifer Granger and Bill and Marlene Emerson. It was an “Intimate Evening of Wishes,” benefiting the Make-a-Wish Foundation. Thanks to this group, eight Make-a-Wish gifts were granted that evening. Among the guests were Phillip and Lauren Fisher, Jennifer Knight, Joe and Rosalie Vicari, Rhonda Walker, Martha Reeves, and Peter B. Oleksiak.

Great Big Auction

Rapidly becoming one of Metro Detroit’s highly anticipated charity parties, the third edition of this party, a benefit for Big Brothers Big Sisters, took place at Detroit Shipping Company on June 6, brought to you by Wells Fargo. Nearly 300 guests enjoyed entertainment from Larry Lee and the Back in the Day Band, a strolling supper from select vendors at Detroit Shipping Company, and an interactive auction with clever items procured by a dedicated group of volunteers.

Elizabeth and Sydney Ross host the Garden Party.

The Garden Party

The Garden Party held annually at Meadow Brook Hall was founded by Sydney L. Ross and his wife, Elizabeth. This lavish event is comprised of fine wine (200 different kinds, to be exact); delicious food (from 30 of Metro Detroit’s best restaurants); and classic cars (rare beauties from antiques to muscle cars driven by guests). Tickets to the 11th Garden Party June 9 were $150 per person. Proceeds will provide professional trade scholarships to underprivileged young adults.

Fash Bash

Nearly 700 fashion and art lovers arrived at the Detroit Institute of Arts on Aug. 15 for Fash Bash 2019, the annual summer fundraiser where the DIA collaborates with Neiman Marcus, presented by the Founders Junior Council. And boy, what a party it was! The evening started with cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres on the museum’s expansive, elaborate façade. Guests were ushered to the Great Hall and Rivera Court for the highlight of the evening, a first-class fashion show produced by Neiman Marcus, Troy. Tickets to Fash Bash 2019 ranged from $150 (for after party only) to $1,500 (for Rivera Court Lounge seating). More than $250,000 was raised for the museum.

Ethan and Gretchen Davidson host Bizarre Bazaar.

Bizarre Bazaar

This was much more than your typical charity party. It was an ethereal experience. Ethan and Gretchen Davidson hosted some 200 people in the backyard of their palatial Birmingham home on Sept. 21 at an event called “Bizarre Bazaar.” Probably best explained by Gretchen Davidson, “Bizarre Bazaar is a soiree and Bacchanalian toast to the 20th anniversary of Center Galleries, the Woodward Lecture Series, and Michelle Perron’s role as director of Exhibitions and Public Programs at the College for Creative Studies.”

Motown Anniversary Party

The evening kicked off with some 350 special guests filing into the Max and Marjorie Fisher Music Center for a private formal gourmet dinner on Sept. 22. Among them were Matt and Mona Simoncini, William Pickard, Jimmy Settles, Levi and Nicolena Stubbs, III (son of Levi Stubbs from the Four Tops), Byna Elliott, Steve and Jill Miller, Mark and Tiffany Douglas, Don Manvel, and Tom and Diane Schoenith. The entertainment lineup in Orchestra Hall was amazing, including performances from Martha and the Vandellas, the Velvelettes, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Big Sean, Ne-Yo, and Doug E. Fresh. Tickets to the dinner started at $1,000. Proceeds will benefit the Motown Museum expansion.

Uncork for a Cure

Great food, fine wine and fancy cars are all elements that help make the annual Uncork for a Cure a consistent success. On Nov. 9, nearly 500 people came out to Cauley Ferrari for the fourth such prestigious event, which was founded by Flora Migyanka and presented by the Dynami Foundation, with portion of net proceeds benefiting the U of M Rogel Cancer Center Breast Oncology Program and Breast Care Center.

Spiros Karmanos and Zayden Cook enjoy Hob Nobble Gobble.

Hob Nobble Gobble

Hob Nobble Gobble is easily the most magical annual fundraising gala in Metro Detroit. Presented by Ford Motor Co., the event Nov. 22 at Ford Field was filled with larger-than-life cartoon characters, dancing elves, marching bands and a midway of carnival rides and games. As one of the largest fundraisers of the year for the Parade Company, event planners transformed the Detroit Lions home turf into a mystical, magical wonderland that was enjoyed by more than 2,000 guests. Tickets for Hob Nobble Gobble ranged from $350 to $1,000 ($200 for children under 6). The event was sold out. Proceeds will help produce “America’s Thanksgiving Parade.”

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