Masks were the theme of the Black & White Gala. (Photo By Steve Ladner)

by Paula M. Riley

The sixth annual Black and White Gala, presented by the Chestnut Hill Community Association and Chestnut Hill Community Fund, was a night like no other. The largest crowd ever – 368 guests – gathered under a huge tent on the grounds of the Chestnut Hill Hospital, the evening’s presenting sponsor.

It was the not the first time the hospital sponsored the gala, but it was the first time it hosted the event. Earlier that day, the hospital held a community day, marking the grand opening of its new wing.

“Chestnut Hill Hospital was pleased to be the presenting sponsor and site for this year’s Community Association Gala,” said Dr. John Cacciamani, CEO of Chestnut Hill Hospital. “All of the planning for the event was evident and made for a remarkable evening. For our physicians and hospital staff, the gala was a special way to culminate a week of celebrations that marked the opening of the hospital’s new emergency room while supporting the community. We look forward to more successful and collaborative events.”

Marianne Dwyer, gala co-chair, said the hospital helped to make the event special.

“I think the change of venue was very appealing to guests,” Dwyer said. “Many of these guests arrived in festive, interesting and unusual masks celebrating the gala’s theme: Masquerade.”

Jane Piotrowski, co-chair, cited the work of the committee, generous sponsorships and participation of local businesses as contributing factors when she announced Monday that the gala made $92,892 – significantly exceeding the event’s goals.

Guests arrived to stunning party atmosphere decorated with black and white balloons, candlelight table tops, auction items adorned in black and white ribbons, and white roses, hydrangeas, and dendrobium throughout the party.

“There wasn’t one detail that was missed – that’s what people told me,” Piotrowski said, “I really felt it was an elegant evening and definitely the best gala we’ve ever thrown.”

Paula Johns and The John Clark Big Band was as entertaining as ever, belting out the songs and keeping the black and white checkered dance floor crowded. Honorary chair Dawn Timmeney from NBC10 Philadelphia kicked off the evening by auctioning off an exquisite black and white mask created by Philadelphia graphic designer, Amy Lewis.

Special guests included City Council members Cindy Bass and David Oh. Bass read the resolution from the City Council recognizing Chestnut Hill for having been selected by the American Planning Association as one of the 2012 Top Ten Neighborhoods in the United States.

“Now everyone knows what we in Philadelphia have always known, that Chestnut Hill is a special place,” Bass said.

Throughout the evening, guests enjoyed a selection of Asian, Italian and American foods provided by Sodexo and created by Kevin M. Boyle, CEC. Some favorites included sushi, steamed dumplings, and antipasto. People could not stop talking about the dessert table. Designed by Piotrowski, the long table featured banana foster, a selection of chocolate candies as well as cannolis, chocolate covered strawberries and cupcakes.

Trish Provose was the lucky winner of the diamond necklace donated by Randolph’s Jewelry. One hundred tickets were sold for $25 each and included a glass of champagne. Unlike past years, the diamond raffle tickets were all sold by 8:30 p.m. – an illustration of the party’s success.

Funds generated from the gala support the Chestnut Hill Community Association and the Chestnut Hill Community Fund.