I wrote this first paragraph a week ago. I keep blaming our ever-busier life on my inability to finish these blog posts, but a little soul-searching has revealed to me a further barrier....self-imposed but still a daunting mental roadblock....I'm unsure how to do the party justice. It was such a whirlwind that it all seems a bit fragmented. So I guess I'll just sell it in fragments..That Saturday kicked off in a flurry of activity, kicking off with a pancake breakfast at Broadway and Penn benefiting the Christmas Committee and segued quickly to the Gatsby Days parade. Keith would be driving his Dad’s vintage Model A car in this parade that served as the annual celebration of all things Roaring Twenties and indeed it featured many folks in period dress and flapper costumes. It made for a colorful segue to the main event.
More of our guests had checked into the hotel and the excitement was growing during the course of the day. Our dear friend Linda created our way-cool centerpieces which utilized cooking implements as part of their make-up. Kevin and his darling wife Christine arrived and started cranking up the awesome tuneage (everything from Bonnie Raitt to Gotye to a Croatian polka version of the Simpsons theme) we created for his iPod to play at our party. Our venue was The Montgomery, the new downtown event space that was just down the street from the Elms. Its a renovated historic Montgomery Wards building and it makes for a truly unique party setting. Our friendly barkeep Zedena arrived and was ready to sling some drinks. We had a fairly wide assortment of brews and vino from which to choose from. The food tables were prepped and our friends at Ventana Cafe, Willow Spring Mercantile and Oooey Gooey Chocolates arrived to set up. Things were coming together...
Keith's Dad brought a case of his homemade wine and walked in with his grandkids Tanner and Sierra as well as Keith's cousin's daughter Caitlyn. The girls were instantly everywhere...screaming from the balconies, pretending to get their hair done in the "salon" area typically reserved for brides or settling in the front display windows where they "performed" for partygoers and passerby alike. Tanner opted instead for the upstairs game room; going from billiards to air-hockey to the vintage shuffleboard game. There was even a poker table ready for the grown-ups.
Soon, the tunes were cranked and the guests began to arrive. From here on out, it all gets deliriously, deliciously blurry. It was a hug-a-thon of the first order. Hugs and smiles and kisses and well-wishes....what a heady, awesome rush. Around seven-ish, we lined up for the food which was truly above and beyond. Ventana provided their famous butter chicken on skewers, tender garlic roast beef rolls, tasty bruschetta and fresh fruit skewers. Willow Spring Mercantile brought savory olive tapenade and sweet roasted grape chutney, as well as gorgonzola-stuffed mushrooms, fresh mozzarella and tomatoes with pesto dressing and mini crab cheesecakes. Daphne and her Willow gang also brought bruschetta; a fantastic concoction with smoked salmon, creamy goat cheese and a caper-onion topping that made me want to slap someone, it was so good. Finally, Oooey Gooey Chocolates brought the Wow Factor with their whimsical cupcake display. And oh, the flavors of those confections: Mint Chocolate Chip, tangy Lemon, Carrot Cake with Caramel Icing, Red Velvet and one mind-blowing cupcake called Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla. We also had chocolate and red-velvet cake truffles wound in amongst the cupcakes as well.
Later, we took a few minutes to thank everyone for coming and pointed out various folks who were in attendance....the Dinner Posse, the Elms and Excelsior crews, my old Barnes and Noble gang, the Jeff City crew representing K's family and last but certainly not least, my sister Shirley who got to attend with her longtime friend Marilyn. We toasted Carolyn who couldn't be there with us. We then moved to the street in front of the venue where our DJ Kevin and his compatriot Shauna treated us to an amazing fire performance that they do as part of their Pyrosapiens group. It was just way cool.
The rest of the evening blurred by even faster, a wild and thrilling patchwork of images of people embracing and dancing and just having fun. It was such a kick to see people reunite or meet for the first time. My sister joined me at a table with Ronnie and Linda when Ronnie was serving shots of bubble-gum vodka - yikes. Keith's dad Ken won party V.I.P. with his homemade wine - he was buddied up to everyone from my coworker April to our darling Kiko. So many good friends that I hadn't seen in awhile...like Drew and Kara; the friends who stood with us in Des Moines, Annette,our St. Simons roomie and her hubby Dale, both in from Minneapolis, and Cassie and Abbey and her beau Brant who popped in last-minute and had a closing drink with me. It was fantastic to just take it all in at various moments throughout the evening...Dads dancing with their daughters, the kids swinging their hair in the display window, folks laughing and drinking and toddlers with cupcake icing all over their face. When the family gathered for a cherished photo on the staircase, it was firmly established as one of the best nights of my life.
It's indeed difficult to capture it all, there were so many amazing moments and so many folks I barely got to catch up with. One thing was clear as we floated out of there at night's end...it was a big, happy, slightly inebriated lovefest and I could not have been more content. No drama or off moments ; just happy-happy joy-joy. And fire!
A hearty and heartfelt thank you to everyone who made it happen. We will never forget it. In the next post, I'll show some more pics from the night....