Illustration by Randall Nelson
The annual PACER benefit supporting children with disabilities took over the Minneapolis Convention Center with a silent auction that resembled a mini-mall. Our shopping and style senior editor Allison Kaplan found the live auction entertaining as she watched the auctioneering duo: king of local TV news, WCCO anchor Frank Vascellaro, and queen of local TV news, WCCO anchor Amelia Santaniello. Vascellaro has a knack for placing a Houdini-like spell on the first few rows of high rollers—locking eyes with them, persuading them to follow his command to raise their bid numbers in the air, and open their pocketbooks. Andrew Zimmern, celebrity chef and hometown favorite, leaped to the stage explaining that his 2015 auction item closed for $18,000 but was never redeemed. Hmm, perhaps that was my winning ticket, I better check. The evening capped off with a jaw-dropping performance by award-winning Idina Menzel, famous for portraying Elsa in Frozen. Purple lights illuminated the stage as Menzel opened the show singing Prince’s “Nothing Compares 2 U.” Children, some with disabilities, adoringly met Menzel when she approached them, and a tear-soaked audience watched. She closed the show with the wildly popular “Let It Go.”
We’re not Kentucky, but every year both sides of the river seem to devote more venues to the Kentucky Derby. St. Paul served up an afternoon of bourbon, bow ties, and seersucker at the University Club on Summit Avenue with former Minnesota Viking and current broadcast announcer Ben Leber, who was the event host and emcee. A portion of the proceeds supported locally operated Smile Network, which strives to help people around the world. Minneapolis’s Nicollet Island Pavilion was filled with a runway-ready crowd of giant-hat-wearing socialites watching polo demonstrations while sipping mint juleps. Proceeds from that event went to support local charity Faith’s Lodge, which offers an escape and support for families who’ve experienced loss.
See you on the scene!
Entertainment reporter Todd Walker covers the gala and social circuit for Mpls.St.Paul Magazine. Look for him at events and weekly on FOX 9 News.