All you need is "Peace, Love, London" as your theme to bring Dallas' grandest gala back from its darkest year. A trumpet fanfare upon arrival doesn't hurt, either.
The Crystal Charity Ball made its triumphant return on Saturday, December 4 — the first time the event had taken place since December 2019 due to COVID. As anyone who's watched a royal wedding on TV knows, no one does "grand and glorious" like the UK, and chairwoman Leslie Diers' event took attendees across the pond with all the best British things, from the Queen to the Beatles.
The pomp and pageantry began as soon as patrons dropped their cars at valet and walked down the entry corridor, flanked with Union Jack flags. A piped-in trumpet salute and orchestral rendition of "God Save the Queen" made guests feel as though they were arriving at the palace. Costumed Queen's Guards — complete with tall bearskin hats — held the doors open and provided the first great photo opp.
Thanks to Tom Addis of Tom Addis Productions, Junior Villanueva of The Garden Gate, Curtis Butts of Talent Associates, Cassandra Moses of Art 2 Catering, and more creative team members, the Hilton Anatole Hotel foyer was decked with the sights, sounds, and tastes of jolly London town.
A sold-out crowd of 1,540 filled every nook and cranny. Everyone, of course, was dressed in their gala best — check out the stunning gowns here.
Instagram-worthy backdrops included a floral creation that resembled a St. George's flag of England, colorful Beatles murals, and a double-decker bus announcing a Beatles show at 9 pm. Dallas String Quartet, outfitted in sparkly pink jumpsuits and playing amped up, electronic instruments, filled the lobby with their takes on Coldplay hits and more.
After having professional portraits made by John French Photography and grabbing glasses of wine, bubbly, or a scotch from a "Scotch Tasting" pub, attendees — including Brett Johnson, Heather Johnson, Jennifer Lancashire, David Lancashire, Jackie Walker, Laura Price, Genevie Short, Jennifer Worton, Candace Swango, Knoxie Edmonson, Bart Humphrey, Jolie Humphrey, Amy Sabin, Tom Sabin, Lisa Cooley, Clay Cooley, Katherine Coker, Key Coker, Tavia Hunt, Gracie Hunt, Nardos Imam, and Awet Bereket — worked their way around the lobby.
Some grabbed early seats at the casino tables, then cashed in their winnings for fabulous decor, artwork, holiday items, and children's toys at the Mod Market. Others bought raffle tickets for the chance to win the 2022 Lexus that was showcased in front of a vignette of London's famed Savoy Hotel.
Across the room, the silent auction curated by co-chairs Anne McPherson and Susan Glassmoyer beckoned for bids on once-in-a-lifetime trips, fine jewelry, designer bags, restaurant and entertainment experiences, and much more. Bidding was done electronically, giving guests a good reason to keep their smartphones out. Vibrant paintings of British icons, like Queen Elizabeth and Harrod's department store, decorated the walls around the auction area.
In the middle of the foyer were displays of adorable finger-food takes on British cuisine: fish 'n chips on a stick; shepherd's pie tartlets; and bite-sized smoked salmon BLTs, along with a showcase of British cheeses and the CCB-signature spread of ginormous Gulf shrimp.
Presiding over it all was a replica of Big Ben, standing tall in the middle of the room and keeping real time. At 9 pm, Big Ben chimed and the Chantilly Ballroom doors opened. The Beatles tribute band Live and Let Die rocked onstage while go-go dancers in sequin Union Jack dresses entertained as guests streamed in.
Dinner was a sumptuous Lobster Avocado Goddess Salad followed by "Beef Wellington Moderne," a deconstructed take on the British classic consisting of filet mignon, vol-au-vent with king trumpet mushrooms and winter black truffles, and heirloom carrot medley. The crowning touch was a "Peace, Love & Decadence" cake for dessert.
By the time the Beatles band was nearing its final chorus of "Twist and Shout," the dance floor was full and the party band Simply Irresistible took over to really rev things up. Those with aching feet or babysitters to relieve at home put in final auction bids, grabbed some coffee and freshly made doughnuts, and departed with their "party favor," a gorgeous Michael Aram heart dish.
Crystal Charity Ball is a grand night, to be sure, but at its heart is a mission to raise funds for Dallas children's charities. This year, the organization donated $5,391,091 to eight deserving beneficiaries:
- Baylor Scott & White Dallas Foundation
- Cafe Momentum
- Dallas Casa
- Dallas Children's Advocacy Center
- Dallas Symphony Association, Inc.
- Network of Community Ministries
- Phoenix House Texas
- Scottish Rite for Children
Read more about them and watch videos of their initiatives on the CCB website.
Spotted in the crowd, having a great time and toasting the ball's return, were patrons, supporters, and friends of the beneficiaries including Olivia Webb, Kendall Sigel, Tracey Kozmetsky, Beth Thoele, Kim Quinn, Mary Martha Pickens, DG Edward, Dana Gibson, Darryl Ratcliff, Sarah-Michelle Steams, Mary Pickens, Bill Pickens, Jr., Shaye Galen, David Byrd, Liana Yarckin, Jeff Yarckin, Jennifer Huen Chan, Aneeta Goomer, Kristen Cobb, Kent Montgomery, Lisa Montgomery, Kelvin Baggett, Dia Baggett, Claire Parrott, Alex Parrott, Sean Gamble, Lumi Gamble, Monica Davy, Latoya Young, Santa Avalier, David Taylor, Kristen Taylor, Carmen Dringoli, Marilynn Johnson, and Amberly Sisneros.