Highlights of the party circuit

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Real life returned this week, darn it all. But we still have the memory of last month's flurry of celebrations to savor.

So, what was your favorite holiday party highlight? We asked a few veteran area party-goers.

Bill Gilmore, Baltimore Office of Promotion and the Arts executive director: "I had my entire staff to my house, and it was a real grown-up hors d'oeuvre and cocktail party. Everyone brought a guest. It was a personal gift to my staff. I had it catered, and we didn't have to lift a finger. A purely social gathering."

Rhonda Overby, Camera Ready Inc. president/CEO: "I'd have to say the holiday party for Harbor Bank [of which husband Joe Haskins is chairman/president/CEO]. It was held at the not-yet-opened Reginald L. Lewis Museum of African American History. Everybody danced and had a great time. It was really relaxed. With the bank being the first African-American-owned financial institution in the area, it was nice to be inside a place that was so significant."

Nancy Grasmick, state superintendent of schools: "[Husband] Lou had knee repair and ran into complications, so we weren't able to go to most holiday parties. But we rejoiced in the beautiful invitations. We finally got out for a New Year's Eve party at [Diamond Comics founder/president] Steve Geppi's new home. It was absolutely beautiful. We got to enjoy New Year's in a castle! That's the only way I can describe it."

Tom Hall, Baltimore Choral Arts Society music director: "A friend and I cooked New Year's Eve dinner for a small dinner party of 10. The highlight was the beef tenderloin and cranberry port sauce that I made. It was good!"

Carole Sibel, volunteer extraordinaire: "[Husband] Bean and I were in Israel, in a group of 130 people - a total of 29 families. There were 52 children with parents and grandparents, and it was wonderful. It was spectacular, actually, sharing that experience as a family and with other families."

Marianne Banister, WBAL-TV news anchor: "We have this great bonfire in our neighborhood. The highlight was having a glass of red wine, mingling around the fire, seeing neighbors and old friends."

Michael Ross, Center Stage managing director: "[Center Stage board member] Cheryl and Alonza Williams' party. It was all desserts. When you came in the door, they told you there was a two-dessert minimum!"

Eating for a good cause

You might want to consider eating at a Fells Point restaurant Monday. You'll be helping a great cause. A bunch of the restaurants have banded together to donate a portion of that night's profits to help the victims of the tsunami in Southeast Asia.

Kitty Knoedler, owner of the Petticoat Tearoom, has been organizing the event. As of early this week, she had at least seven other eateries on board: Brick Oven Pizza, Kali's Court, Kali's Court Mezze, Timothy's of Fells Point, Kooper's Tavern, Slainte and Armadillo's Tex-Mex Cafe. By now, more could have come on board.

The participating restaurants are scheduled to be posted on the Kooper's Web site, www. koopers.com.

"I just feel somebody needs to do something, so I'm doing it!" Kitty says.

Now that's starting the new year right!

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