Small guest surprises couple at Baltimore Zoo's Zoomerang


Around Town

July 21, 2002|By Sloane Brown | Sloane Brown,Special to the Sun

BETCHA DIDN'T know there was a birth at this year's Zoomerang. The mother wasn't one of the Baltimore Zoo's residents. She was one of the party's 2,500 guests. OK. So it was a birth that began at the June 14 jamboree.


WHAT DO YOU EXPECT when you're invited to an open house for a business' new office space? You expect to drop by, grab a couple of hunks of Cheddar and a strawberry off the cheese and fruit table, chat with the firm's honchos, then make a clean break -- all within the space of, say, half an hour.


Debra Schindler Kohlhepp, an investigative producer at News Channel 2, and hubby Nick were first-time attendees at the whoopdeedoo. She says they had been at the party for about 40 minutes. They were working their way down the path of tents and restaurant food stations, when her water broke. Right in front of the Zeffert and Gold Catering table, she remembers.

This was Debra's fourth child, so she and Nick didn't exactly go into panic mode. In fact, she says, they were having such a good time, they debated whether they had time to sample a few more goodies before heading to the Greater Baltimore Medical Center.

"People were bustling all around us," she says, "and no one seemed to notice."

Except for one other guest, Paula Moore, who introduced herself to the couple as an obstetrics delivery nurse. After questioning Debra about her symptoms, Paula suggested the Kohlhepps get to the hospital. At 12:35 a.m., Lexy Elise joined 16-year-old sister Sara, 13-year-old brother Timothy and 2-year-old sister Jordyn in the Kohlhepp clan.

"We suspected we would have the baby earlier than the June 28th due date," Debra says, "but we didn't think she would come that early. ... And [Channel 2 news anchor] Mary Beth Marsden had just said to me in the newsroom that week, 'You're going to Zoomerang? Your water's going to break!' "

What's more, Nick and Debra didn't get to try Zeffert and Gold's Zoomerang offering of white chocolate and peanut butter risotto.

Not so at the July 11 open house for the Catholic Review's new digs -- the old Park Sign Company building at 880 Park Ave. The Review's Theresa Wiseman says some 150 folks started stopping by at 6 p.m. At 7:15 Cardinal William H. Keeler and the Review's associate publisher Daniel Medinger gave a brief welcome to their guests, who stayed. And stayed. And stayed. At 10 o'clock, the party was still going strong.

Theresa says the Thursday evening shindig turned out to be just the right combination of beautiful office space ("lots of exposed beams and old brickwork"), the local group High Five ("Baltimore's Manhattan Transfer"), who also stayed past the official 8:30 end time, and a crowd "who were just enjoying themselves."

SAME NIGHT, different place -- a very emotional get-together at the Glyndon home of Laurie and Edgie Russell. About 60 friends and supporters gathered for a dinner celebrating the next day's dedication of the Robert Packard Center for ALS Research at Johns Hopkins Hospital. The center is a grant-making organization aimed at providing research funds and streamlining a path to curing amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease. It's named for Bob Packard, who was head of technology investment banking in the Alex. Brown San Francisco office, and who died of ALS two years ago at the age of 42. His parents, San Franciscans John and Barbara Packard, have given $5 million to endow the center.

The center's Kearney Harring-ton says the Packards were hosts of the dinner with the Russells. Guests included Hopkins Medicine CEO Dean Miller, Jay Brodie and his wife, Georgene (who has ALS), Tim and Barbara Schweizer, Chuck and Amy Newhall, and George and Nancy Roche.

Kearney says one of the evening's most heartfelt moments came when Laurie -- who also has ALS -- gave a toast to the Packards, saying their gift gave hope to those like her, who otherwise would have no hope.

Alternative Directions

Never mind the summer drizzle. It only seemed to add more charm to Alternative Directions' annual Lawn Party Fund Raiser. There was something warm and inviting about mingling with friends and colleagues under canvas canopies in the backyard at the Towson home of Mary Joel Davis, the legal non-profit organization's executive director. Little lights and lanterns, along with vases brimming with garden flowers, decorated deck railings and tables. Then there were all those picnicky dishes to sample and silent auction items to examine. And let's not forget the dining table inside, where the selection of desserts grew by the minute. It seemed every other guest arrived with his or her contribution to the sweet collection.

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