By Wicker Van Orsdel
Bravo to Bravo for doing it again! The 6th Annual Bravo Gala was Feb. 5 at Hy-Vee Hall downtown, and the evening came off with great éclat. It was bigger and better than ever this year. Record number of tables sold with a whopping 1,000 partiers. This year, the John Ruan III family was recognized for their generous philanthropic gifts to the arts and culture that have helped make Des Moines the wonderful place that we all know and love.
The valet parking was a special treat in this arctic deep freeze we’ve been having. Guests were greeted with the Music Under the Stars jazz combo as they passed along the red carpet entrance in their “black-tie optional” attire. (Which I guess means: Tuxes and gowns are not mandatory, but please consider it. Clearly people decided to go to the spiffy side of the closet.) The “Opulent Vodka” bar was just inside the door serving Opulent Cosmopolitans! Way to get the party started Bravo! The “Bright Lights. Big City” theme was carried out in the seating areas and in the four different food stations with great selections to choose from. There was something for everyone. We were delighted to have a seat at the Prairie Meadows table.
The program was so entertaining this year! There were bright ballerinas on their toes from Ballet Des Moines, and from the Des Moines Metro Opera, we were treated to the high notes of the beautiful chanteuse, Dana Pundt, and the divine and deliciously mellifluous baritone of my friend John Michael Moore. Des Moines is teeming with talent, and we are glad they shared it with us! The stage was then filled with the handsome family of John Ruan III, who were presented with the Bravo Award by MD Isley, executive director, and Connie Wimer Bravo board member. Next thing you know a huge Ruan semi truck pulled up in the food court. Great prestidigitation. Very impressive. Lots of ohooos and ahhhs.
Then the fun began. It was time to put on your dancin’ shoes. After the awards business was finished, the Ken Arlen Orchestra cranked up and the dance floor was SRO. This orchestra is top tier and has played for the gala since the inaugural event in 2006. They are no longer surprised when all the martinized ladies take over the stage to shake their booties. All night long, guests danced in a very merry fashion…I think you know what I mean by “merry.” (Sometime during the program the Opulent Vodka folks switched from passing out cosmos to passing the even more decadent and deadly chocolate martini.) But you know what they say: “Never let a good celebration opportunity go to waste.”
We anticipated an absolute sterling evening, and we weren’t disappointed. I’ve got to say it….. “Bravo” to event chairs Cara Heiden of Wells Fargo and Chris Littlefield of Aviva USA.
If you missed the party of the year, Chris Maharry took pics all night long. See for yourself at www.maharryphotography.com, click Bravo 2011. And be sure to show up next year!