Main Events

Marj Dusay and Judy Licht

JJ Fondrisi and Maria Tennariello

Sam Champion, Caprice,
Deanna Annis and Cliff Love

No Rain, Only Champagne,
At Garden Gala’s Parade

By Edward T. Callaghan
Photos by James Edstrom

HE threatening skies and heavy winds did little to deter the faithful supporters of Body Positive.   Heeding the call of “come rain or come shine,” more than 300 braved the chilly weather for the warm environs of Jerry Della Femina and Judy Licht’s magnificent oceanfront manse for Garden Gala XVII benefiting Body Positive, and its educational and support services for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Co-chair Linda Romanelli Leahy, her husband Rob and board members Kevin Johnson, Kathleen and Jim Schwartz pulled out all stops to make this one terrific bash.

The good spirits were heightened with plenty of Champagne Piper Heidseick from Remy Amerique, a generous grand sponsor of the event.

The gala host, ABC-7’s Sam Champion, flashed his warm smile to arriving guests including Congressman Timothy Bishop, Peter Jennings and Kaycee Freed, Fred Schneider and Robert Molnar, Eric Rodriguez, David Shmerler, Mary Ellen Winston, Raven, Bill Kapfer, Peggy and Joseph Melendez, Caroline Winston, Tony Vargas, Kerry Delrose and Ron Senkirk, Adriane Gaines, Carol Harrison, Chuck Hitchcock and H. David Wilt, Cliff Love with the always divine Caprice by his side, Marios Christos Sfantos, Deanna Annis and Improper Hamptonian Nada Kucharski.

The unofficial kick-off to the Hamptons season, the gala saluted three individuals for their efforts on behalf of people with HIV/AIDS: Guiding Light star Marj Dusay, Congressman Timothy H. Bishop and Southampton Hospital program coordinator Michael Collins.

Founded by the late columnist James Revson 16 years ago, Garden Gala has become an annual tradition, thanks to the efforts of Della Femina and Licht, who continued the fundraiser upon Revson’s death from AIDS in 1991.

As in past years, the hors d’ouvres and special treats were a collaborative effort by Hamptons top chefs and caterers Mimi Atlas, Anna Adams, Cynthia Battaglia, Charles Razzanno, Jean Koster, and Robert Sylvestri.

New York’s acclaimed Philip Marie Restaurant provided food and sensational wines to match the “teams” culinary efforts.

The silent auction was anything but! Guests swirled about the rooms of the mansion filled with enough luxury items to make the most seasoned Fifth Avenue shopper salivate!

Organized by C. Guy Bowman, the sparkling jewels from Me & Ro, Tiffanny & Co., and the eye-popping evening bags by pop artist Debbie Brooks (whose fans include Charlize Theron, Chita Rivera, Melanie Griffith, Sarah Jessica Parker and Barbara Walters) were a big hit, especially Brooks’ 2004 Tony Award commemorative bag.

Trend watchers take note: the hotly contested prizes were original art works and, believe it or not, with the young metrosexual crowd, a men’s cosmetic kit from Zirh.

Art remained king and top bids went to Tom Murray’s color portrait of the Beatles The Mad Dog Summer of ’68, and the witty original cartoon The Martini Bird by the legendary Dr. Seuss, a.k.a. Ted Geisel.

Grand sponsors for the event were ABC-7, Champagne Piper Heidsieck from Remy Amerique, Philip Marie Restaurant, Tiffany & Co., Harper’s Bazaar and Village Copier. Additional sponsors for the event were Animazing Gallery, Corbin & Associates, Rain Vodka, Saks Fifth Avenue and Dr Pepper/7UP.

A special tip of the hat to Bill Kapfer, who filled the goodie bags to overflowing.

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