To say that the 15th anniversary party for the Peninsula Chicago was a fun party is like saying the Art Institute has a couple of nice paintings. I'm not sure I really have the words to describe it. This magical night, envisioned by the Pen's Greg Hyder along with Kehoe Designs' Phil Cooper and staff, not only celebrated the Pen's 15th anniversary but also acknowledged the 150th anniversary of the company too.
From the moment we stepped out of the cab to enter this award-winning hotel, we knew we were in for a thrill ride. A sleek, charcoal grey MINI Cooper was outfitted with flashing wheel lights and running board while DJ Wizz feverishly played hot hits out of the trunk on his state-of-the-art mixing board in a playful nod to the Pen's own fleet of MINIS. Peninsula elevator pages whisked invite-only guests to the lobby level and, as soon as the doors opened, magic ensued. Servers were standing at attention holding silver trays filled with champagne. Purple, green, fuschia and yellow lights backlit trees and shrubs "planted" in the hall leading to the lobby. At the end of the walkway, a massive 7 foot-tall, white frosted cake bearing the words "150 Hong Kong, Shanghai Hotels" sat alongside jeroboams of Moet Champagne.
A stilt-walker dressed as a huge blue-bird (of happiness no doubt!) fluttered his "wings" and danced to the music as he greeted surprised guests. Delicious, decadent food stations that included the Pen's famous Peking duck, oysters, crab legs and more, were everywhere you looked and creatively attired performance artists (think a golden satyr, Goth ballerinias, dancers, fairies, etc.) squeezed their way through the crowd happily singing, dancing and posing for photos along the way.
The theme was "Midsummer Night's Dream/Garden Chic" so oversized colorful, fantasy flowers "sprouted" throughout the venue. Real flowers, including allium and tropical florals like orchids, king protea, anthurium, hydrangea and sunflowers, were used in abundance too. If you looked up, a giant harp with strings leading from one side of the room to the top of the ceiling played soft tunes with a trio of violins.
Downstairs, a photo station allowed guests the opportunity to pose in front of a backdrop of green grass. Outside on The Terrace, rock band Swett Bea and The Boys and String Theory kept the crowd swaying to the tunes as more food stations helped fuel the fun. In the Avenues Ballroom, a red dance floor featured a custom graphic of a monkey riding on the back of a dragon in a nod to the company's 150th anniversary and its Chinese roots.
Guests wore their most creative "garden" attire. Standouts included Michael Caputo who wore a black and white floral dinner jacket. Tracey Tarantino (whose ZZAZZ Productions provided some of the performers) was dressed in a chic black and white floral jumpsuit. Bright colors and bright smiles were the order of the day as over 1000 guests enjoyed the famous Peninsula hospitality for this super special occasion.
Greg Hyder, Pen's fabulous catering director and so much more, summed it up this way. "I think this was my favorite party of all. With all the terror and hate in the world right now, I just wanted to create a moment in time where guests could relax and feel joy again and I think we achieved that tonight."
Partygoers seen on the scene included Roe Conn, Maria Pappas, Mike McGrath Jr., Trevor Heffernan, Tom Carto, Jean, Andy, Andrea and Alex Antoniou, Sharyl and Mike Mackey, Beth Rosen and MJ Tam, Catie Keogh, Colleen Kelly, Hazel and Warren Barr, Cynthia Olson, Zarada Gowenlock, Mary Ann Rose and Heinz Kern, Claire and Dr. David Donnersberger, Diane Hollingsworth, Carly Leviton, Tom Kehoe, Toni and Rick Canada, Amanda Puck and Billy Rairigh, Nina Mariano, Dede Lubeznik, Sherrill and John Bodine, Jim Smith, Jenny Berg, Michael Kutza, Vivian Teng, Susan Gohl and Jonathan Grabill, Sherry Lea Holson, Quenten Schumacher, Maria and Bob Zec, Dori Wilson, Vonita Reescer, Bridgett McDermott, Vincent Anzalone, Linda Johnson Rice, Julie Latsko, Neal Zucker, Debi Lilly and husband Mike, Ken Norgan, Matt Olaveson, Sherren Leigh, Beth Silverman, DC Crenshaw, Justin Jacobson, Tiffani Kim and her sister, Elizabeth Bertucci, Marshall Erb, Mary Pat Burns, Amy Tara Koch, Rudy Segovia and Andy Sinclair, Mamie Walton, David Murga, JP Anderson, Dusty and Alex Stemer, George Jewell, Carly and Jason Bradford, Heather and Bruce Ingram, Grant DePorter, Dr. Sandy Goldberg and Gregory Hines, Sandy Whitely and so many more!
Happy birthday with love Peninsula Chicago! Nobody does it better!
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