Crystal Charity Ball 2019 brought vibrant South American style to Dallas' grandest gala.
Ball chairwoman Pat McEvoy chose the theme "South American Mosaic" for its 67th edition and transformed the Hilton Anatole Hotel's foyer and ballroom with the sights, sounds, and tastes of that colorful continent.
More than 1,500 guests, dressed in their most dazzling ballgowns and tuxedos, arrived to the hotel for the beloved event on December 7. Upon entering, they walked down a hallway of towering plants and flowers made to look like a tropical rain forest, complete with performance artists costumed as a butterfly, big cat, and exotic bird.
The Instagram-worthy backdrops continued inside the lobby, where a gurgling fountain and brilliant floral creations were popular photo stops.
After having professional portraits made by John French Photography and grabbing glasses of wine and bubbly, attendees — including Sabrina Harrison, Field Harrison, Chuck Steelman, Keana Meyer, Dean Fearing, Wanda Fearing, Julia Kananna, Leah Pasant, Luane McWhorter, Lisa Cooley, C.A. Anderson, Annette Anderson, Jennifer Sampson, and Edward Sampson — snaked their way around the silent auction offerings.
Up for grabs this year were dozens upon dozens of magnificent trips, fine jewelry, artwork, runway fashion experiences, one-of-a-kind accessories, and many more exquisite items. One head-turning piece was a stunning Alexander McQueen gold bead and pearl-encrusted knuckle clutch, which didn't get too far in bidding before someone opted to "buy it now" for $1,500. Ditto on a chance to spend Thanksgiving Day with the Dallas Cowboys, which was sold quickly for $22,000. Of special note this year were several packages featuring stays and experiences at the dazzling new Hall Arts Hotel in the Dallas Arts District. The impressive array was arranged by silent auction chair Jennifer Dix and her team.
Guests daintily loaded their plates with South American-inspired canapes like beef empanadas and sweet potato crema, then crossed the room for the oversized displays of jumbo Gulf shrimp, donated for the evening by Cassandra Fine Catering.
Patrons also perused the Plaza del Mercado for holiday gifts, including small electronics and beautiful housewares. Those who wanted to try their luck before dinner hit the casino early.
At 9 pm, the Chantilly Ballroom doors opened to reveal a scene that evoked a South American nightclub in a lush, tropical setting. Tango dancers, dressed in red, floated around the dance floor to the South American-symphonic stylings of the James Davis Orchestra.
The dancers and musicians were so entertaining, folks couldn't help but capture video on their phones before finding their seats. Patrons finally sat down to their tables, which were adorned with opulent white and gold arrangements of roses, orchids, and hydrangeas. In contrast, colorful displays of pink and orange roses, lilies, orchids, and more climbed around the stage.
The orchestra continued playing as patrons dined on a sumptuous multicourse dinner created by Hilton Anatole executive chef Rigoberto Lemus, executive banquet chef Mike Youssef, and executive pastry chef Shirley Chavez. It started with coriander crusted King scallop with corn and wild mushroom relish and roasted corn jus. Main course was a cotija crusted seared beef tenderloin served with aji creamy demi, onion chorizo stack, asparagus, charred carrots, cipolini onion, and blistered tomatoes.
The crowning touch was South American Coffee Chocolate Delight, a flower-shaped dessert — complete with numerous delicate petals and edible gold flecks in the center — that was almost too beautiful to eat. (But far too delicious not to.)
Throughout the evening, wines from Ehlers and Beringer Private Reserve and were poured generously by the attentive wine stewards.
Spotted in the crowd, enjoying dinner, were Bruce Dietz, Gayle Fischer, Jennifer Lind, Emily Elolf, Stari Ewert, Sabiera Figueroa, Maggie Morales, Amberly Sisneros, Sheridan Horn, Kaylan Montgomery, Vinette Montgomery, Tiffany Lawson, Leigh Anne Haugh, Alan Schoellkopf, Karen Schoellkopf, Conner Searcy, Gina Searcy, Randi McParlin, Angela Seaman, Brittany Graft, Jordan Graft, Rosie Caruth, Ian Caruth, Wynne Wideman, Craig Wideman, and many, many more.
It didn't take long for the music to gear up again and for the dance floor to fill to the brim. A party band whose beats ranged from boogie woogie to Bruno Mars kept the room on its feet long after the last bites of dinner had been eaten.
Those with tired feet scooped up their party favors — including a big box from Tiffany & Co. containing an elegant crystal candlestick — and exited back to the foyer. There, they could check silent auction bids one last time; hit the casino tables again; and try for one last chance in a raffle for a 2020 Lexus, which was parked inside.
On the way to the valet stand, guests got one last taste of South America — fresh, hot churros covered in cinnamon, and hot coffee for the ride home.
Tom Addis of Tom Addis Productions, Junior and Maria Villanueva of The Garden Gate Floral Design, Curtis Butts of Talent Associates, and a host of others helped bring the "South American Mosaic" night to life.
Crystal Charity Ball is the grand finale of the social season and benefits children's charities around the city.
"Your support helps ensure that all children in Dallas have the opportunity to achieve greatness in their lives and make this a stronger community and better world," McEvoy writes in the introduction to this year's Crystal Charity Children's Book, which highlights the work of each beneficiary.
Beneficiaries of this year's ball are Child & Family Guidance Center, Community Partners of Dallas, Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep, For the Nations Refugee Outreach, Interfaith Family Services, Jubilee Park & Community Center, Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic, Mercy Street, Promise House, and Readers 2 Leaders.