Holiday parties will plow ahead

Most revelers push aside weekend's weather warnings

December 15, 2007|By Jill Rosen, Tanika White and Dennis O'Brien | Jill Rosen, Tanika White and Dennis O'Brien,Sun reporters

Everyone wants a white Christmas, but no one with a big holiday bash set for tonight wants any of that right now - not with jumbo shrimp chilling, egg nog waiting by the gallon and a party dress that will look less than great with galoshes.

On a prime weekend for holiday parties, hosts across the region have their fingers crossed. Forecasters have been talking about a "wintry mix" that could hit this evening, unleashing a party planner's nightmare.

By 9 a.m. yesterday, Classic Catering People owner Eddie Dopkin had already called every client with a weekend party scheduled to see how they wanted to handle the weather.

One canceled immediately. Others wanted yesterday afternoon to mull it over. With thousands of dollars worth of crab dip, brie, flowers and linens hanging in the balance, it was not a decision to be made lightly.

Over the course of this weekend Dopkin's company is booked for nearly 300 events - from corporate affairs at the Inner Harbor's most luxurious spots to private fetes in people's homes. Tonight alone, they're to serve about 3,000 partygoers - assuming the partyers actually go.

"You've got to look at it not only from a cost standpoint, but for the safety of people driving home on slippery roads," he said. "But we will get to any event that people want us to. We're sort of known for that."

Weather experts said yesterday that they expected temperatures to hover above freezing and hold snow accumulations at bay in the region. Areas west and north of Baltimore might see about a half-inch of snow. In the city, temperatures are expected to dip to about 34 degrees, said Alan Reppert, a meteorologist with Accuweather.com.

"It really doesn't look like it's going to be a big deal after all," he said. "Generally, we don't expect much accumulation."

But just in case, the Maryland Emergency Management Agency marshaled state and local officials for a meeting yesterday afternoon to prepare for any impact. The agency warned of strong wind gusts tonight, downed trees and power outages, and it urged residents to pay attention to local news reports for information.

So it was understandable that folks who sent out scores of invitations weeks ago were a little worried, while some partygoers were adopting a show-must-go-on attitude.

"As long as we can get out of our garage, we're going," said Edie Brown, owner and founder of the public relations firm Edie Brown and Associates, who was headed, with her husband, to four holiday parties this weekend. "Snow is just snow. It shouldn't keep you from doing anything."

One of the shindigs on her itinerary: the annual Mount Vernon holiday bash thrown by partners Ted Frankel and Bill Gilmore, of the American Visionary Art Museum's Sideshow shop and Baltimore's Office of Promotion and the Arts, respectively.

Frankel and Gilmore's get-together has grown each of the three years they've had it. This year, they've invited more than 100 people to Frankel's home, and Frankel is truly expecting each and every one of those 100-plus to show up.

"We're Baltimoreans; we're brave," Frankel says, being either very polite or very oblivious to what most folks actually say about Baltimoreans' reaction to winter weather. "And I'm a good shoveler, if I need to."

Terry Morgenthaler, who sits on the board at Center Stage, said a little snow wouldn't affect whether she and her husband, Patrick Kerins, go to their favorite Roland Park holiday party tonight.

"We have four-wheel drive," she said. The only thing a wintry mix might constrain is her choice of footwear.

"It's one of those things where you're like, all right, I guess I wear the fuzzy boots," she said with a sigh. "And I'll try to slip a pair of good shoes in my purse."

Randy Hayes, assistant director for the Baltimore Metro Harley Owners Group, was out picking up his tuxedo yesterday afternoon. Tonight is the HOG's annual holiday party, and come hell, high water, sleet, ice or whatever Mother Nature throws this way, Hayes is going to wear that tux. And he's going to dance.

"We Harley riders don't normally have a chance to see each other in those kinds of outfits," he said, laughing. "Unless it's a foot deep, it's not gonna stop us."

jill.rosen@baltsun.com tanika.white@baltsun.com dennis.obrien@baltsun.com

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