Tuesday, March 4, 2003

Rising water didn't dampen party

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

There was a lot of wine, a lot of creativity, a ton of local celebs and too much rising water hanging around parties on the weekend benefit circuit.

The water entered the picture when Dress for Success had to quickly move its second annual fund-raiser from the E.J. Aircraft Hangar at Lunken Airport. The water, plus building pressure in the sewer system, forced the move early Friday for the Saturday event.

The party moved to a tent (yeah, it was heated) hastily erected by Camargo Rental at Mercy Healthplex, a few miles from Lunken.

This is the party, recall, where table hosts decorate tables according to a theme - some get help from decorator friends - and then ask guests to dress accordingly. Which explains Jack and Barbara Hahn's Oriental Fantasy (designed by Patrick Korb), with banners shooting 8 feet into the air and cool Oriental pottery. Or Rodger Goldwire's Flying High, with four pillars supporting aerial acrobats - 25-inch dolls - under a tent top 10 feet in the air.

Hosts also hire their own caterers, so there were five different ones running around dishing up varieties of American, Asian, African and European food.

About 310 showed up - admission was a silent auction item worth at least $100 per person - including well-known artist Eduardo Monteagudo, who painted a piece specifically for the evening and came in from Spain to present it.

Friday's event was the 21st annual Redwood Express, a do that raises money for Northern Kentucky's Redwood Rehabilitation Center.

Theme of this one for the past several years has been celebrity wine pourers - Channel 12's John Lomax, Channel 19's Sheila Gray, Jack Atherton and Dan Carroll, Insight Communications' Dick Von Hoene and dozens more spent hours behind the bar that night.

About 900 showed up for wine, silent auction - gift baskets, personal services, sports goodies - and a live auction where celebs signed on for dinners, hunting trips and boat rides with high bidders.

The event is so popular that people show up before the 7 p.m. starting bell - "I was pouring wine at quarter 'til 7," Lomax said - and linger right up to last call.

It takes in about $90,000 a year, making it Redwood's biggest fund-raiser.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com

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Rising water didn't dampen party