The holiday mood is settling in

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The room waiting for the party to begin for the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center’s annual fund-raising dinner at Cipriani 42nd Street.

Thursday, December 15, 2022. Sunny but cold, almost like winter, yesterday in New York, with some real winter weather (snow?) forecast late tonight.

The birthday boy.

With the Christmas holiday only a little more than a week away, you can feel the energy gathering. There were two particularly memorable events at the very end of this year’s social season, both one day after another. I went to an early dinner last night at  Sette Mezzo and it was packed, wall-to-wall; the holiday mood is settling in.

This past Monday night, Alex Papachristidis, the international interior designer, who recently published a book of his work, The Elegant Life: Rooms That Welcome and Inspire (Rizzoli), hosted a birthday dinner for himself at a private club here in New York.

Alex, who is also a generous personality by nature, has been hosting a birthday dinner annually for years. It’s always been a big draw because he invites lots of friends and family, and they were always held at the great Mr. Chow restaurant on East 57th Street near Sutton Place. They’re popular. They’re always fun because they’re big and full of Alex’s warm personality.

Alex’s birthday dinner at Mr. Chow in 2019.

This year’s birthday dinner was “black tie” and held in a private club here in New York. It was spectacular with two hundred guests, seated in two large reception rooms with tables elegantly candle-lit and decorated with bowers of gardenias so plentiful that their fragrance filled the rooms.

Called for 7 o’clock cocktails in the club’s galleries, with dinner served at 8. Naturally, as it always is when there’s a crowd, it must have been close to nine o’clock before we were all seated. The atmosphere was warm and jovial — a reflection of the birthday boy’s personality.

And then, the following evening at Cipriani 42nd Street, the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center held their annual dinner and raised a record more than $2 million. The black tie affair filled the enormous Cipriani 42nd Street center, honoring Christine and Stephen Schwarzman for the $25 million gift that will go to financing the $100 million addition to the building on East 63rd Street and York Avenue.

Topiary dogs and cats served as centerpieces for the dinner tables.

This is always a great evening; and the Schwarzmans’ gift made big difference. The couple were honored for it and we learned about their love of dogs (they have three Jack Russells). In a filmed interview with the couple at home with their dogs, Christine revealed how she’s had dogs all her life, and when Steve proposed to her she asked him if he ever had a dog.

Christine and Steve on the big screen at home with their dogs.

Answer: No; he’d never had a dog growing up. It was then that she told him she’d had dogs all her life and kind of couldn’t live without them. They married (of course) and the canines soon came into residence. Not surprisingly, to us animal lovers, Steve wasn’t certain, but for his wife was willing to give it a try. The result: he loves his dogs as much as his wife does, and as much as many if not all people of the hundreds in the vast room, including this writer. It was a sweet presentation as well as a moving event. A sweet Christmas to the pups and kitties under treatment at the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center as well!

Kathryn  Coyne, President and CEO, with Bobby Liberman, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Schwarzman Animal Medical Center.
Christine Schwarzman speaking to the audience in the presence onstage of Bobby Liberman and her husband Stephen Schwarzman.
Stephen Schwarzman describing to guests how he came to contribute $25 million to the Animal Medical Center to expand their work.
Stephen Schwarzman holding a silver doggie bowl as a symbol of their generous contribution to the cause.

Ann Pyne, Steven Aronson, and Jackie Weld Drake.
FDNY officers with their K-9 officers and admirers.
A close-up of their beautiful K-9 pups.
Amin Khoury, Susan Braddock, Emilia Saint-Amand, Kari Tiedemann, and Dr. Nathan Saint-Amand.

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