When it comes to Chicago gala/parties, the usual recipe of good food + good people and good music seems to be the way to make guests happy but what if a party takes that same recipe but adds a little more flavor throughout the night? Add to that, the fact said party sold out even before the invitations were mailed, then you attended an amazing party that if by the end of the night, you didn’t drink enough water or stretched enough, you may have referenced the Kanye West lyric “sunglasses and advil, last night was mad real” the next morning. What kind of party was this?! The Trust for Public Lands’ Above The Rails opening gala, co-chaired by Jenny Jacobs and Hanna Thomson, for the highly anticipated The 606 Trail.
The over 950 guests in attendance included Chicago’s leaders in philanthropy, corporate, even tech and emerging leaders including the Madigans, Neal Zucker (Corporate Cleaning), Marko Iglendza (Terminal Getaway), Ebs Burnough (EBSI), Kevin Wiler(Chicago Ventures), Sam Yagan (The Match Group), Keating Crown (Sterling Bay), Andrew Geant (Wyzant), Brian Traubert (Pritzker Traubert Family Foundation) sans Penny Pritzker, Susan and Michael Canmann, Matt Harrington (Edelman COO), Ethan and Coco Meers (PrettyQuick), Rik Geiersbach(Boeing), Kathleen and John Buck (John Buck Company), Michael Cassel, Meredith Wood Prince (The Scout Guide), Dawn and Ben Helphand, Karen and Liam Krehbiel (A Better Chicago), Carolyn (Boldface PR) and Nick Moretti(Chop Shop) to name a few.
The evening, with title sponsor Boeing, was staged under a very large tent by The Revel Group but the VIP festivities began along the Bloomingdale Trail. As guests like Steve and Amy Dolinsky, Whitley-Bouma Herbert, Susu Block ascended the trail in view of the Exelon Observatory, Chicago’s top chefs including Frontera Grill’s Rick Bayless, Bill Kim of BellyQ, Presidio’s Shaun Connolly, Bristol’s Sean Pharr and Crafthouse cocktails manned stations to delight their taste buds with delicious offerings and libations.
Lowdown Brass Band performed as guests were ushered into the huge tent to begin dinner and the evening’s program. ABC7’s Steve Dolinsky whose wife, Amy Dordek Dolinsky was part of the event committee, served as emcee for the evening. Honorary chair Mayor Rahm Emanuel, along with wife Amy Rule who were celebrating their anniversary that day, addressed guests on the benefits of the nearly three-mile long trail and the impact this and initiatives like the trail will have within the city.
Boeing, which has been a part of the the project early on, had several of its executives in attendance including Dennis Muilenburg, President and Chief Operating Officer who re-iterated the company’s support as well, noting that he was bringing a team of cyclists from Boeing in a few weeks to test out the trail. Will Rogers, former Chicago resident and President/CEO and Beth White Chicago Region Director of The Trust for Public Land also re-iterated the impact the trail will have within the city as well as more initiatives to come. During dinner, executed by Chef Molly Brewe of Limelight catering, DJ Greg Corner, accompanied by violinist Julia Schifrin, cellist Tahirah Whittington and trumpeter Corey Wilkes performed. As Eli’s cheesecake desserts came around, it was also time for the live auction where guests bid on amazing packages. Then the FootworKINGz came on to much applause.
#the606 watch my feet A video posted by SociaLifeChicago (@socialifechicago) on
As the saying goes, after the show it’s the after party! And this after party had bites from Chop Shop, GT Fish & Oyster, libations, live original pieces being created by visual artists Shala and BboyB. Duo DJ team of Megan Taylor and Lani Love with surprise DJ Alderman Moreno of the 1st Ward (I couldn’t believe it either) had guests literally dancing into the night. It was one of those parties you didn’t want to end but alas, cinderella’s uber was waiting.
Though the 606 project was a partnership between City of Chicago and the Chicago Park District and the Trust for Public Land, it was also made possible by the generosity of big time donors. Above The Rails marked the completion of the first phase and opening of The 606, a public-private partnership and signature project of the City of Chicago, the Chicago Park District and The Trust for Public Land. During the event, Beth White noted that the Searle Fund at The Chicago Community Trust, already a big donor to The 606 project, would donate another $1 mil if they raised $3 million by the end of the year.
Though we are only half way through the year, as far as big ticket gala’s in the city goes, this one tops the list.
photo credits: James Atkins, Barbara Levant, Erika Dufour