Las Vegas Sun

December 17, 2014

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Columnist Muriel Stevens: ‘Fantasy ‘96’ a real success for musuem

AFTER 14 YEARS of spectacular annual galas, Lied Discovery Children's Museum has not lost the touch. Somehow the group continues to keep the energy and excitement high, and to attract a full house every year.

"Fantasy '96" at Caesars Palace was another success for the museum. As always, the silent auction was filled with wonderful items that inspired heavy bidding. So enthusiastic were the bidders that they could barely be convinced to leave the auction area for the dining room.

The dining room was gorgeous, with special lighting effects and attractive table settings complete with floral arrangements in silver wine coolers.

Dinner was a series of delightful courses: grilled jumbo shrimp with Thai cucumber salad and Napa cabbage slaw; white-bean soup with escarole and pancetta; medallions of beef with port wine glaze; and medallions of chicken with roasted bell pepper and spinach, and a bouquet of fresh vegetables; and for dessert, Crystal Cruises Signature sweet.

The dessert was in honor of the sizable raffle prize donated by Crystal Cruises -- a trip for two worth more than $9,000. Raffle sales were brisk. Hostesses were kept busy keeping up with the demand.

Entertainment is always a highlight of the "Fantasy" events. This year, for the first time, the Los Angeles troupe Xanadu was on hand. Such dancing, such singing, such group participation. Before and between courses Xanadu had everyone on stage and on the dance floor. The energy level was at danger point it was so high.

Among those enjoying the high-flying group were Denise and Dan Reichartz, Kathy and Phil Cooper, Kitty Rodman, Robin and Danny Greenspun, Phyllis Binion and her granddaughters Katie O'Neill and Kelly O'Neill, Dee and Don Snyder, Dana and Terry Wright, Barbara Mulholland and Stan Hunterton, Marie and Tony Traub, Barbara Molasky and Dr. Brian Berelowitz, Sandy and Roger Peltyn, Tom Johnson and Barbara Johnson, Heidi and Lawrence Canarelli, Katy and Dr. Gary Marrone, Susan and Tom Schoeman, Suzanne and Mark Van Aken, Ed and Lee Nigro, Vivi and Todd Marshall, Doc Weiner and Trudi Von Tobel, Steve Cloobeck and Chantal Ledeuc, Sharon Bader, Ann and Bruce Evans, Dema and Kenny Guinn, Steve Du Charme and Patty Becker, Debbie and Mark Masuoka, Bonnie and Frank Schreck, Cam Ferenbach and Mary Francis McCarthy, and hundreds more.

Capably handling the emcee chores were KLAS Channel 8 news anchors Paula Francis and Gary Waddell.

It was an evening for reveling, not speechifying, so comments by Museum Director Suzanne LeBlanc, Don Snyder and Board of Trustees President Tom Roche were informative yet brief. Like all nonprofit organizations, the Children's Museum is always in need of funds. Discovery Museum is a splendid resource for our children and is so fine a facility with such high-quality programs it is visited by museum people from all over the world. The annual gala is a dependable source for funds.

Among those who made it all happen were the honorary gala chairman Dan Reichartz, gala co-captains Dee Snyder, Robin Greenspun and Judy Cebulko, and the committee -- Doreen Bartoli, Gladys Comer, Emily Newberry, Patricia Shields, Sherry Sirianni, Jon Sparer and Suzi Wright.

After Xanadu's five rousing acts, including the opening where everyone "rode the train," a conga-like line dance with much shoulder action and choo-choo sounds, the winner of the raffle was drawn. Joni and Mitchell Trageton will soon be at sea aboard the luxurious Crystal line.

The banquet staff at Caesars performed, as always, graciously and with ease. A tip of the chapeau to Todd Carter, Chef Greg Waldron and Chas Del Guercio who always make it seem so effortless to have a successful gala.

Project DARE

DARE, the Drug Abuse Resistance Education program for kids, may have some detractors nationally, but it was obvious at the recent Officers Appreciation Dinner at the Stardust that locally it does just fine.

This was the second annual recognition dinner for officers who so willingly share their time and knowledge.

Dale Wood of the Boulder City Police Department is first vice president of DARE's board and was one of my table companions. He answered questions about the organization with candor. According to Wood, a yearly Gallup poll continues to show that youths who participate in the 17-week program statistically have a lower risk rate of using drugs.

Listening to Wood were his fiancee, Lin Aubuchon, Chris and Dr. Jay Johnson, Ron and Sherry Pass, and Larry Spitler. Among those who share his enthusiasm for DARE by serving on the board are Geri Schiffman, Nick Fitzenreider, Vicki Drake, Cheryl Routh, Therese Anderson, Lisa Bintz, Janet Dukes, Bebe Hoffman, Melinda Mclean, Dr. Edson Parker, Bea Soares, Tyrone Thompson and Dr. Marcia Tinberg.

From my own observations the young people also get to know the police as friends, a definite plus for both sides.

Dinner Chairman Rick Darnold wrote in the program that after attending a DARE graduation at a local school, "it was clear that these children had a very special connection with the officer with whom they spent the last 17 weeks."

Brian Cram, our superintendent of schools, said the DARE program represents one of the best things we have to offer our children.

As emcees, Rich Little and Sue Tripathi-Manteris were super. Little, looking trim, fit and dapper, did a very funny turn poking fun at the political process and the players. Other speakers were Sheriff Jerry Keller, DARE President P.J. Taylor and keynote speaker David Davis.

A poignant video narrated by the grandmother who raised her grandchild after his parents fell through the drug cracks, ended with the introduction of the two, who were at the dinner. Theirs is a not uncommon tale of our times.

The evening ended with a live auction conducted by Little and Manteris, and the awards. Receiving the top honor was the very first Clark County DARE officer, Earl Hartung.

One live-auction item, a Greg Maddux-autographed jersey, was bid for and won by Steve Sisolak, who paid big bucks to get it. He then gave it as a gift to Johnny Smith, the boy on the video. With Maddux so strong in the World Series and a future Hall of Famer, Smith has a gift that surely will increase in value, and better still, has experienced the kindness of strangers.

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