Jay Leno makes a hit off and on the stage

MARYLAND SCENE

Around Town

October 27, 2002|By Sloane Brown | By Sloane Brown,Special to the Sun

Sometimes Hollywood stars that have a super-nice persona turn out to be ... super nice. At least that was the case with The Tonight Show's Jay Leno, who was in town recently. Leno was the headliner for The Chimes' annual fund-raising show at Meyerhoff Symphony Hall. According to David Nevins, who co-chaired the event with wife Sharon, Tom and Dana Carroll, and Tony and Marcia Trantas, Leno made an appearance that was earlier than his scheduled one on stage. David says Leno showed up in the lobby about a half-hour before the afternoon show just to mingle with folks.

"He must've had his picture taken 200 times," David says. "He was great with people ... very unassuming ... the nicest guy in the world."

David says Leno's stand-up comedy performance on stage lasted about an hour. Then, he spent a little time at the reception afterward, before jetting off to do an evening show in Cleveland. Whew!

About 2,000 folks enjoyed A Magical Afternoon with Jay Leno, which honored Lois and Alan Elkin and helped raise some $400,000 for The Chimes.

About 175 people were the honorees at a thank-you party thrown by the folks at the Susan G. Komen Cancer Foundation, Maryland Affiliate, after the Oct. 5 Race for the Cure. Executive Director Robin Trothro says the point of the Ravens Stadium shindig was to thank all this year's volunteers and major donors. Robin says this year was the first time the foundation threw the thank-you party after the event, rather than before. It was great, she says, because they got to review the race and celebrate the results: over a million dollars raised to help fight breast cancer.

And then there was the thank-you party for the grande dame of Baltimore society last week. More than 300 of the areas movers and shakers gathered at the Belvedere Hotel for the Advertising & Professional Club of Baltimore's luncheon honoring Clarisse Barron Mechanic as Woman of the Century. The packed ballroom was a virtual B-more who's who: John Paterakis, Henry Rosenberg Jr., Nancy and Lou Grasmick, Cardinal William H. Keeler, Zelig Robinson, Mary Pat Seurkamp, Drew Berry, Rhea Feikin and Sylvia Badger, just to name a few, and more politicos than you could shake a campaign sign at.

Lourdes Morales and Kip Mandris served as hosts of the event saluting Clarisse and all she's done for Baltimore over the years, including seeing through her late husband's plans to build the Morris Mechanic Theatre in 1967.

If you needed a reminder of the years Clarisse spent working in show biz, a table outside the ballroom displayed letters and photos of old Hollywood friends of Clarisse -- Joan Crawford, Katharine Hepburn, Henry Fonda, Mae West and Joan Fontaine, just to name a few.

A celebrity of a different type enthralled an audience of about 350 at the National Federation of the Blind's annual shindig. How could you not be enthralled when the guest speaker is Erik Weihenmayer, the first blind man to climb Mount Everest?

Betsy Zabarowski, the NFB's director of special programs, says Weihenmayer gave a slide show about his May 2001 Everest climb that wowed the crowd. Betsy says he talked about how he managed the difficult parts of the climb.

"The Kumbu Ice Fall took him 13 hours the first time he went through it," she says. "It just about killed him. He ended up going through it eight times. The last time took him six hours."

Particularly inspirational to the crowd, Betsy says, was hearing from Erik that what kept him going was remembering the faith the NFB and other blind people around the world had in him.

The party itself was a big success, taking on a more casual flavor than in previous years. Folks roamed the third floor of NFB headquarters, which Betsy describes as renovated old factory space, sampling a variety of goodies offered by several local restaurants and Maryland vintners. The party raised just under $100,000 for the NFB.

Speaking of renovated factory space, Tide Point served as an ideal location for the Enterprise Foundations 20th anniversary party. Chairman and CEO Bart Harvey says the former Procter & Gamble plant site was chosen for the get-together because it shows how an abandoned manufacturing plant can be turned into a viable office complex.

Which, he points out, jibes with the foundation's mission of providing decent, affordable housing and opportunity for low-income people while helping to rebuild communities across the country.

Bart says about 800 people came to the affair, including Walter Sondheim, Sandy Hillman, Patty Rouse, Tony Deering, Fredye Gross, Sally Michel, Amy Elias, Rick Berndt, Marilyn Duker, Matt De Vito and Betsy Nelson. Bart says the evening's high point came when the Addicts Rehabilitation Center Choir from Harlem performed. He says the group of 36 recovering addicts has performed around the world, but came free of charge because they like Enterprise, which built transitional housing for them in Harlem.

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