Tuesday, April 15, 2003

Kids, art and games add up to great fetes

By Jim Knippenberg
The Cincinnati Enquirer

It was all about honors, kids, art and big people playing kids' games at three weekend parties that went from drop-dead elegant to as casual as you can get.

• For elegance and honors, you couldn't beat the black tie/beaded gown crowd at the Hyatt for the eighth annual Beacon of Light Humanitarian Awards thrown by Lighthouse Youth Services.

Close to 600 guests paid $100-$125 for a lively cocktail hour, filet mignon and salmon dinner, dancing to P. Ann Everson-Price and to cheer seven honorees selected for their support of youth-oriented community programs.

Honored: Ray Brokamp, educator and director of Leadership Cincinnati; Rosa Blackwell, deputy superintendent of Cincinnati Public Schools; Maria Szczepanski, representing the employees of Cincinnati Financial Corp.; the Carters, Shannon, founder of Crayons to Computers, and Lee, volunteer, founder of Art Links and board chair of Children's Hospital Medical Center; and Lois and Dick Rosenthal, philanthropists and founders of Uptown Arts.

Art entered the picture at the silent auction: 60 lighthouses designed by professional artists and students at the School for Creative and Performing Arts and Madeira High School.

• More art by kids - as well as such artists as John Ruthven, Charley Harper and Tom Schiff - was the centerpiece when St. Joseph Orphanage threw its first Under the Sea Art Fling at Newport Aquarium. St. Joe director Bob Wehr was happy enough with the crowd - about 300 - to consider turning it into an annual do.

Art by 70 of the 1,000 kids St. Joe's works with and 32 professional artists was scattered throughout the aquarium's winding pathways. Most of the children's art went at a silent auction; most of the pro stuff was auctioned by Jay Karp, as wonderfully sarcastic as ever when the bids weren't high enough.

Guests dressed casual and paid $60 a head to shop the art while munching from a whole batch of Montgomery Inn food stations.

• Meanwhile, it was all games all the time at the Council on Child Abuse's second annual Games Kids Play at Old St. George.

About 600 guests wearing shorts and T-shirts to bow ties and bunny ears paid $45-$100 each for cocktails, munchies from 26 vendors, music from the Chozen and some time to bounce around a Moonwalk, test strength at the Strongman Stryker, play cornhole, pop-a-shot and try out the putting green.

This was definitely the hardest partying - and youngest - crowd of the night - the kind of crowd that, beer and wine in hand, completely fills the dance floor and gets rowdier as the night wears on.

You know people are having fun when there's a line of thirtysomethings waiting to sweat it out in the Moonwalk.

E-mail jknippenberg@enquirer.com

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Kids, art and games add up to great fetes