Main Events

John Wegorzewski, host
Judy Licht, and sponsor Cliff Love

Wind And Rain Can’t Keep
Folks Away From Charity

By Edward T. Callaghan

ORE than 300 guests braved the monsoon-like winds to join Judy Licht and Jerry Della Femina at their East Hampton oceanfront home for Garden Gala XVI, the annual oceanfront sunset soiree benefiting Body Positive.

They arrived with coifs undone, Manolos in hand, squishy sneakers, and grabbed the first available cocktail. Luckily, Jerry had trays of Vermeer Dark Chocolate Martinis!

With the chill off, we ran for our pals Christian Conley Holthausen and Francine Bryan-Brown who had the champagne flutes and Champagne Charles Heidsieck ready for us.

We toasted Rob and Linda Romanelli Leahy, the social engines behind the event, and their daughters Kate and Jenna Leahy Bates with hubby Chris who had flown in 20 or so friends from San Francisco, Los Angeles and Cleveland.  The Leahys, who make every party a family affair, even had their in-laws Carol and Ben Bates passing the canapés, courtesy of over a dozen of the Hamptons’ top chefs and caterers.

Antinori provided the lovely wines to compliment the treats and there was enough Absolut to keep a Russian army singing.

We got the skinny about Cliff Love and his retirement from ABC after 32 years.  Clearly, the Mickey Mouse gang was very good to him.  Cliff told us he could now devote more time to causes dear to his heart.

Pop artist Marco with his
"Lady Liberty" gift to Garden Gala
Photos by George Antilla

With the ever-stunning Caprice on his arm, Love chatted up a storm with blue-eyed weather bug Sam Champion ABC 7, who was honored with Body Positive’s James Revson Memorial Award, named for the late Newsday columnist who began Garden Gala in his Sag Harbor backyard.

John Haigney, vice president of LINCS, received the Positive Citizen Award for his many years of service to East End community programs.

We couldn’t miss publisher Shari Alexander, whose shocking pink ensemble lit up the room, and her husband, renowned Metropolitan Opera star John Bills.  We were lucky enough to catch up with the couple just as Sylvia and Fred Lehrer were detailing the recipe for Sylvia’s lighter-than-air cheese puffs.

Committee and sponsors also pitched in by housing in their own homes the scores of out-of-town guests and volunteers.  Interior design dean John Rogers had the good taste -- and sense – to offer lodgings to several of the cute out-of-town contingent.  Program chair, Kathleen Schwartz and husband Jim turned their sprawling Noyac estate into a veritable dormitory.

The wildly successful affair raised badly need funds for Body Positive, the largest peer based AIDS service organization in New York solely dedicated to empowering people who are living with and affected by HIV and AIDS.

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