It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

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Jacqueline Weld Drake welcomed the children’s choir of the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education for a little Christmas get-together.

As is her custom, Jacqueline Weld Drake welcomed the children’s choir of the Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education to her Park Avenue residence. Beautifully dressed, the students were excited to meet “Miss Jackie” who had presents waiting for them under her Christmas tree and, later, a splendid dinner.

They sang Jingle Bells, Silent Night, We Wish You A Merry Christmas, a spirited Feliz Navidad, as well as a new anthem, Casita María Está de Fiesta. “This is what Christmas is all about,” declared the hostess. “This evening makes us all so proud.  We need a Christmas now and all throughout the year.”


Casita Maria Choir.

Felix Urrutia, Casita’s new Executive Director explained, “Post-Covid, the mission of Casita Maria is needed more than ever. School, tutoring, finding a way to success, in all my years working with students in the Bronx, our work has never been more important.”

The annual William E. Simon Scholarship award, in recognition of academic excellence in a New York Roman Catholic High School, was presented to Jorge Gabriel Neira Jr., who accepted with his mother Maria Jose Chusan-Neira and his sister at his side. His ambition is to become a doctor.


Jorge Gabriel Neira Jr., Jackie Weld Drake, and Maria Jose Chusan-Neira.
Casita Maria Choir making a Coke toast.

Guests included board members Martha Bograd, George Corton, Sissi Fleitas, Michele Gerber Klein, Alberto Mariaca, as well as Steven Aronson, Beth Rudin DeWoody, Mercedes Levin, Alicia Lubowski-Jahn, Liz and Jeff Peek, Marc Rosen, and Sabrina Wirth.

Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education, the oldest Latin charity in New York City, provides high quality arts education to over 1,000 students each day. Located in the country’s poorest zip code, the South Bronx, Casita Maria creates a safe, welcoming community, enriching and uplifting youth and families, and producing well-rounded individuals who go on to fulfill their dreams.


Hernan Acuña and Alicia Kapland.
Sissi Fleitas, Terry Mullen, Colleen Waters, Alicia Lubowski, and Victor Roquette.
L. to r.: Jeff and Liz Peek; Martha Bograd and Michele Gerber Klein.
Alicia Lubowski and Sabrina Wirth.
L. to r.: Jackie Weld Drake and Beth Rudin DeWoody; Felix Urrutia and Tracey Fortson.
Luisa Lopez Celada and Alberto Mariaca.
L. to r.: Steven Aronson and Alicia Lubowski; Michele Gerber Klein and Christy Ferer.
Marc Rosen and Michel Witmer.

Andrea Lassakova performing Dying Swan.

Britt and Bob Meyer opened their Newport Beach residence for a holiday dinner to celebrate Segerstrom Center for the Arts. The evening was co-hosted by bicoastal Elizabeth Segerstrom and luxury watch and jewelry maison, Chopard. Sparkling diamonds, gigantic tins of caviar, and spectacular views were on display.

Xander Parish, formerly a principal dancer with Mariinsky Ballet, introduced dancers Adrian Blake Mitchell and Andrea Lassakova to perform an excerpt from Reunited in Dance, their 2022 show at the Renée and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall, of which he was artistic director.

Guests included Karen Betson, Barbara and Alex Bowie, Sally and Randy Crockett, Jany Davenport, Patricia Ford, Mary and Phil Lyons, Richard and Lisa Merage, Holly and Michael Schwartz, Laura and Tim Vanderhook, and Jaynine and Dave Warner.


L. to r.: Bob and Britt Meyer; Elizabeth Segerstrom and Elizabeth An.
Peter Spenuzza, Connie Spenuzza, and Terry Schreyer.
Howard and Katherine Bland, with Dee and Larry Higby.
L. to r.: Laura and Tim Vanderhook; Ryan Cenicola and Amanda Khan.
Raj and Marta Bhathal, Lisa Bhathal Merage, and Richard Merage.
L. to r.: Adrian Blake Mitchell and Elizabeth Segerstrom; Jany Davenport and Barbara Bowie.
Scarlett Chou, Elizabeth Segerstrom, and Lucy Chou.
Tiffany Sumner, John Stratman, and Elizabeth Segerstrom.
L. to r.: Jim Mazzo and Elizabeth Segerstrom; Xander Parish and Andrea Lassakova.
Carmela and Ben Du.
Chopard Team.
Veronica Slavik, Kate Levering-Jahangiri, Reza Jahangiri, and Evan Slavik.
Elizabeth An and George Clune.
Suki McCardle and Gregory Robertson.
Brittany Rand​, Sareen Tchekmedyian, Holley Johnson, and Anaïs Blake.

Photographs by John Sanderson for Annie Watt Agency (Casita Maria); Carla Rhea Photography (Segestrom)

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