The beginning of the End of the Old Year ringing in the New

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Members of the choir of Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education at Jackie Weld Drake's home for some Christmas caroling.

Well, it’s here. The beginning of the End of the Old Year ringing in the New. This past weekend in New York was comfortably not too cold (temps in the mid- to low-40s) with a little bit of rain passing through, and a bright sunny Sunday to complete the weekend. The city is noticeably quieter with much less traffic in many areas.

A friend down in Palm Beach for the holiday sent the following report: Christmas in Palm Beach is a glorious time of year with the town ablaze with lights; families arriving; and The President and Mrs. Trump in residence at Mar-a-Lago through the arrival of the New Year.

The 40-foot tree Christmas tree on Worth Avenue.

The season (for many of the social swells) started off with Maureen Donnell’s lunch at The Everglades Club for Fern Tailer, Franny Scaife, Joyce Sterling and Cynthia Foy Rupp — Cynthia is the granddaughter of Walter Chrysler and her mother Thelma Chrysler Foy was one of the great New York fashion icons of the last mid-century.

Ann and Charles Johnson from San Francisco hosted a big cocktail at The Everglades Club. Mr. Johnson is the largest shareholder in Franklin Resources, the global investment management firm founded by his father. Mario Buatta was a favorite designer and friend of the Johnsons and did the interior design for eight of their houses. Even if your life requires you moving around a lot, there’s still no place like home.

Multi-residentials aside, the most important social event of the Christmas season for some is Emilia and Pepe Fanjul’s annual black tie dinner at their beautiful holiday decorated mansion. The Fanjuls leave PB the day after Christmas with lots of PB guests, heading for their spectacular compound at Casa Del Campo in the Dominican Republic. It is there that those “lots of PB guests” will celebrate at the Fanjuls’ annual New Year’s Eve.

Guests at the Palm Beach dinner were: Hilary and Wilbur Ross, former Canadian Prime Minister Brian Mulroney and his wife Mila; Countess Christina de Caraman, Allie Fanjul, Carol and Earle Mack, Arianna and Dixon Boardman; Ginnie Burke; Lesly Smith (the former mayor of Palm Beach); Jim Mitchell, Cynthia Boardman, Mrs. Ogden Mills Phipps, Emilia’s sister and brother-in-law, Helene and Roman Martinez; Pauline Pitt and Jerry Seay; Pepe’s nephew Norberto Azqueta and his wife Robin; Percy Steinhart, a/k/a Mr. Stubbs and Wooten himself.

Apres Fanjul, The party season continues nevertheless, with more than 1000 members (!) and their guests going to The Everglades for Christmas Eve dinner; and holiday season technically ends with the annual Coconuts’ black tie dinner dance on New Year’s Eve. And then life starts all over again. Sort of.

A reader sent us this photo of his big beautiful tree.

Meanwhile back in the Big Town, New York and New Yorkers can’t be outdone when it comes to parties (which also includes all those galas and opening events you hear about).

Sculptress Michele Oka Doner and her husband Fred opened their stunning SoHo loft for an evening of music featuring artist William Kentridge and The Knights, the brilliant New York based orchestral collective who provided live music for his production of The Head & the Load at The Park Avenue Armory. While champagne flowed, surrounded by the remarkable artwork, Kentridge and Knights artistic director Colin Jacobson explained their collaboration.

Ariadne Greif, William Kentridge, Michael Atkinson, and Colin Jacobson

More than 100 music lovers attended included Teri Agins and Paul Hands, Corice Arman, Stacey Bronfman, Halim Bulos, Sharon Bush, Joan Hardy Clark, Mélite de Foucaud, Joanna and Brian Fisher, Joan Hardy Clark, Sylvia Hemingway, Cheri Kaufman and Bill Sclight, Elbrun and Peter Kimmelman, Michèle Gerber Klein, Thessaly LaForce, James Marcus, Christopher Mason, Toni Ross, Cole Rumbough, Sana Sabbagh, Fred and Robin Seegal, Alex and Michael Shuman, Adrienne and Gianluigi Vittadini, as well as Knight’s executive director Shruti Adhar.

South African born artist William Kentridge is a draftsman, performer, and filmmaker. The focus of his oeuvre has been an examination of the years before and after apartheid. Many New Yorkers will remember his dazzling visuals for The Met Opera’s production of Shostakovich’s The Nose. The Head & The Load commissioned by the Park Avenue Armory may be his most ambitious production to date.

Ariadne Greif and William Kentridge

The Knights are a collective of adventurous musicians, dedicated to transforming the orchestral experience and eliminating barriers between audiences and music. Driven by an open-minded spirit of camaraderie and exploration, they inspire listeners with vibrant programs that encompass their roots in the classical tradition and passion for artistic discovery.

They provided live music not only for The Park Avenue Armory production of The Head and The Load but also for the performances in London at the Tate Modern. Upcoming Knights performances include a European tour, Family Shows at BRIC in Brooklyn, Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, and April 3 at Carnegie Hall. For more information see

Fred Doner and Michele Oka Doner
Jennifer Clifford Danner, Michele Oka Doner, Joanna Fisher, and Halim Bulos
Elbrun Kimmelman and Michele Oka Doner
Michael Atkinson, Ariadne Greif, and Sylvia Hemingway
Adrienne and Gianluigi Vittadini
Han Feng and Joan Hardy Clark
Shruti Adhar, Emily Nemens, and Philip Keel Geheber
Teri Agins, Paul Hands, and Michèle Gerber Klein
Cole Rumbough and Emily Mohr
Fred Doner with Joanna and Brian Fisher

Back to business, parties included. Luminaries from the hotel and tourism industries were treated to a special live performance from Broadway’s Ashley Brown as the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC) hosted the “Red Carpet Hospitality Gala” at their Annual Dinner late last month. A veteran Broadway actress, Brown played Belle in Beauty and the Beast and originated the title role in Mary Poppins. The fundraiser took place at JW Marriott Essex House in Manhattan. A portion of the proceeds from the gala will go towards the HANYC Scholarship Fund.

The event was chaired by Vijay Dandapani, President and CEO, Hotel Association of New York City, and Fred Grapstein, Chairman, Hotel Association of New York City.

Vijay Dandapani, President and CEO, Hotel Association of New York City; Thomas Schumacher, President & Producer, Disney Theatrical Productions; and Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels
Vijay Dandapani; David Marriott, Chief Operations Officer, The Americas – Eastern Region, Marriott International; and Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner, MCR Development
Ashley Brown

HANYC honored Tom Schumacher, who is the President and Producer of Disney Theatrical Productions, and David Marriott, Chief Operations Officer, The Americas – Eastern Region, Marriott International. Schumacher is the man who brought us, and Disney, “The Lion King,” Broadway’s 3rd longest running show, having grossed more than $1 billion (!). He was introduced by Jonathan Tisch, Chairman & CEO, Loews Hotels. Introducing Mr. Marriott was Tyler Morse, CEO and Managing Partner, MCR Development.

The Host Committee included Lisa Linden, of LAK Public Relations; Tyler Morse,; Charlotte St. Martin, President of The Broadway League; John Rieman, of JW Marriott Essex House; Jonathan Tisch,; and Sean Verney, General Manager, Sheraton New York Times Square.

Steve Batta, Secretary, Hotel Association of New York City Board of Directors; David Marriott, Tyler Morse, and Jonathan Tisch
Thomas Schumacher, Charlotte St. Martin, President, The Broadway League; David Marriott, and Jonathan Tisch
Suri Kasirer, President, Kasirer Consulting; and Vijay Dandapani
Fred Grapstein, Chairman, Hotel Association of New York City; Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer; and New York City Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez
Vijay Dandapani, Jonathan Tisch, and Fred Dixon, President and CEO, NYC & Company

The weekend before last, Jack Lenor Larsen invited guests to join him at LongHouse Reserve for a private screening of the documentary series, “Craft In America: Visionaries.” The film premiered this past Friday on PBS. Visionaries featuring Jack Lenor Larson will air at 10PM.

It documents the ways in which artists and influencers inspire new generations to envision the limitless possibilities of craft. The program featured Larsen, textile designer and founder of LongHouse, as well as curator Helen Molesworth and Black Mountain College weaver Kay Sekimachi, collector Forrest L. Merrill, and book artist Felicia Rice.

David Yoo, Jack Lenor Larsen, Young Chung, and Peter Olsen

Guests attending the private screening included: Mary Busch, Jane Iselin, Wendy Moonan, Nina Gillman, Karin Greene, David Yoo. Jack Lenor Larsen, Young Chung, Peter Olsen,Dianne Benson, Dr. Jay Hunt, Charles Savage, Elizabeth Dow, Rebecca Chapman, Ron Chapman, Katora Miller, Joi Jackson-Perle, Jeffrey and Stacey Collé,Amy and Ray Smith, Jon Ambrose, Matko Tomicic, Selena Rothwell, James Brasher.

Crafts In America is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to advancing original handcrafted work through the Peabody Award-winning documentary series on PBS nationwide and the free-to-the-public Craft in America Center in Los Angeles.

Charles Savage, Michele and Steve Pesner, ​and Mary Busch

If you’d like to visit LongHouse Reserve this winter, it is open through April 26, 2019, by appointment only, Monday through Saturday. It is closed on Sundays. Admission is $15. Ror more info call 631-329-3568, or visit

Located at 133 Hands Creek Road, East Hampton, LongHouse is is on sixteen acres of gardens with outdoor sculpture by Dale Chihuly, Willem de Kooning, Sol LeWitt, Yoko Ono, George Rickey, among other notables.

Amy and Ray Smith, Nina Gillman, and Matko Tomicic
Bob and Mary Blake
Dr. Jay Hunt and Rebecca Chapman
Eleanor Alper and Dianne B
Jack Lenor Larsen and David Yoo
James Brasher, Ron Chapman, and James Brasher
Jeffrey and Stacey Collé with Nick Martin
Mary Busch, Jane Iselin, and Wendy Moonan
Nina Gillman and Karin Greene
Selena Rothwell and Sylvia Baruch
Stacey and Jeffrey Collé
Steve and Michele Pesner
Sylvia Baruch, Selena Rothwell, and Ray and Amy Smith.

Before we turn out the lights and go to bed. Jackie Weld Drake opened her home last week for Christmas caroling by the choir of Casita Maria Center for Arts & Education.

Jackie Weld Drake in front of her tree.

The adorable children, ages 9, 10 and 11, sang in English and Spanish with songs including “Feliz Navidad” and “Jingle Bells.” It was very sweet, an annual heartfelt evening that includes presents under the tree for each child.

Many of the Casita students say that one of the best things about Casita is “visiting Jackie” who is their longtime Chairman (her sister Martha Bograd also serves on their board). A new tradition was added this year; Jackie presented four families with William E. Simon Scholarships for outstanding students in the Bronx attending Roman Catholic High Schools.

Guests included John Bernbach, Elizabeth Jacoby, Michèle Gerber Klein, Mercedes Levin, Mary McFadden, Ann and William Nitze, Sissi Fleitas Refaie, Ben Rodriguez-Cubeñas, Sharon, the Lady Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas, Elise Thoron, and Maria Celis Wirth.

Casita Maria is an oasis in the South Bronx, located in what is still the poorest neighborhood in America. Casita serves more than 1,000 students from kindergarten through high school each day with after-school arts education as well as social, cultural, and educational opportunities.

It is the oldest Latin charity in New York, and the more help they can get from your financial donations, the more they can help the children grow into a better life for themselves and their families. Casita Maria features a state of the art facility encompassing performance spaces, gallery, dance and music studios, and more. For more information, see:

William Nitze, Martha Bograd, Ann Nitze, and Jackie Weld Drake
John Bernbach and Haydee Morales
Martha Bograd and Mercedes Levin
Lady Sharon Sondes and Geoffrey Thomas
Keith Widyoler, Sharon Hametz, Mary McFadden, and Maria Wirth
L to R.: Yamileth Lopez, Franchesca De La Rosa, and Noah Pena; Casita Maria student opening his gift
Jackie Weld Drake with Casita Maria students
Casita Maria students

Photographs by Annie Watt (Kentridge & Casita Maria); Ronald L. Glassman (HANYC); Richard Lewin (Longhouse)

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