Adelina Wong Ettelson told us that she and her friends in New York’s charity crowd love to “shop together, lunch together, gossip together.” But at last night’s 42nd Anniversary Spring Gala for the Hale House Center, family came too.
Among the first to arrive was one of the evening’s three honorees, Alexandra Lebenthal, along with her 7-year-old daughter, Ellie, clad in a pink skirt and top from Crewcuts and grasping a sequined clutch (not unlike her mother’s larger purse, save for the Hello Kitty design).
“Frankly, the ‘celebrating mommy’ thing is probably getting a little old,” Ms. Lebenthal said with a laugh, adding that her two other children were busy with high school events that night. “I’ll only have my husband to support me.”
And support he did, launching into an explanation of his college sweetheart’s commitment to Hale House, and even offering The Observer a quote by Alexander Pope to describe the work ethic exhibited by her philanthropic work for, among others, Alzheimer’s patients and the Botanic Garden: “Do good by stealth.”
Though Ellie left after cocktail hour–with her mother leading her by the hand upstairs and saying, “Thank you for coming, Ellie, I really appreciate it”–Ms. Lebenthal’s husband went on to introduce his wife for her award that evening with words so kind that she began her acceptance speech with a pound on the podium and an announcement that she was still desperately in love with him after 25 years.
During the proceedings, to the left of CNN correspondent Alina Cho-also an honoree-sat Ms. Cho’s beaming mother and father, who had been visiting for a few weeks and who too had gone to buy outfits just for the event. (Cho said she had ordered her teal Monique Lhuillier dress, with a tiered, scalloped bottom that she called a “big poof,” six months prior.)
To Ms. Cho’s right sat the man who was to introduce her, Wolf Blitzer. Though he may not have been family-Ms. Cho was excited to hear him speak. Both are members of the CNN clan, and Ms. Cho maintained they had two more things in common: “We both love my parents and we both went to North Korea.”
Both Ms. Cho and Mr. Blitzer probably had their minds on Anthony Weiner as well. “Every day is a busy day,” according to Mr. Blitzer’s evaluation of the newsroom, but he said of Weiner, “It’s pretty stunning. When I watched his opening statement, my mouth was wide open.”
Artist Hunt Slonem-who donated a rabbit painting for the event’s silent auction-was not as impressed. “I really don’t think about him much. I will be interested to see if he survives [but] it’s such a common scenario,” he said. “This is just another pathetic American story.”
Still, aside from Ms. Cho’s quip in her speech that it had been a unique news day, the focus of the dinner speeches was on Hale House and good work it provides for families and children in need. As honoree Diandra Douglas–Michael’s famous ex–put it, “These are trying times today. We need to view all children as our own children.”
“This is my baby,” evening chair Frederick Anderson had said of the non-profit, then turning to hug friend of eight years Valesca Guerrand-Hermes, who had arrived late on account of stopping first–oops!–at the wrong venue.