Gateway to Kyoto
Jewel Charity Ball 2023 journeys to Japan with gold, geishas, and cherry blossoms galore
Fort Worth's grand-dame gala, the 68th Jewel Charity Ball, transported guests to Japan for a sparkling night filled with the sights, sounds, tastes, and enchantment of the "land of the rising sun."
About 1,370 black tie-attired attendees mingled, shopped, dined, and danced the night away to a legendary band at Will Rogers Memorial Center's Amon G. Carter Exhibit Hall on Saturday, March 4.
Jewel Charity president Shannon Shivers chose the 2023 ball theme, "Gateway to Kyoto," not only for its many colorful and extravagant design possibilities but as a meaningful tie-in to the event's purpose: raising funds for Cook Children's. "Kintsugi is the Japanese tradition of repairing broken objects using gold," she says. "This is a beautiful correlation of Jewel Charity’s support of the patients at Cook Children’s."
Thanks to Bill Robertson of Events by Bill, the cavernous hall was transformed into an ethereal Japanese garden, with towering cherry blossom trees, koi fish bars, koi fish-emblazoned dance floors, Japanese lanterns, Buddha statuary, pagodas, and vibrant orchids and other florals adorning tables.
The elan began when guests arrived at the valet stand, where they were greeted by Japanese drummers. Performers costumed as geishas welcomed patrons inside.
While men looked dapper in their classic tuxedos, many women took cues from the theme, donning gorgeous ballgowns in cherry blossom-pinks, sumptuous silk fabrics, and even some kimono-style ensembles. Red (which has much significance in Japanese culture, including the power to ward off evil spirits) was THE dress color of the night - as seen on Alicia Steuart, Kathy Sneed, Claire Rawls, Gina Cook, and many more.
During a cocktail reception, attendees could grab chilled sushi bowls from an ice station - complete with tiny pipettes of soy sauce and eaten with chopsticks, of course - or enjoy tray-passed crispy spring rolls, chicken potstickers, Chinois chicken salad, and Texas Wagyu Tsukune skewers.
The all-female electric string group Rockestra serenaded while patrons bid on silent auction items and purchased raffle tickets. Up for grabs were lavish trips, experiences, gift cards worth thousands to local retailers, and artworks by the likes of Fort Worth favorite Nancy Lamb (who was in attendance donning a fabulous kimono and with her ever-present camera in hand).
It was hard to resist a visit to the Collections Fine Jewelry lounge, where guests could try on sparklers on display - and buy them, of course, with a portion of proceeds going to Cook Children's.
Another donation opportunity came at the Wells Fargo Wishing Tree, an enormous cherry blossom tree from which small cards with QR codes were hung. Patrons could simply scan one and select the "wish" to grant - who knew that just $10 could supply an overnight kit for emergency department patients, or that $15 covered a therapeutic pillow for children recovering from heart surgery?
The dinner gong was struck at the stroke of 8 pm, and a performance by the Dallas Kiyari Daiko Drummers welcomed guests into the dining room. Then the Powerhouse Band took over to keep the beat lively during the meal.
A buffet of Japanese-style cuisine was prepared by Wolfgang Puck Catering chefs Andrew Swanson, Jonathan Stirnwels, Jett Mora (of Cafe Modern), and pastry chef Elizabeth George. Diners filled their plates with Asian pear salad, charred asparagus salad, roasted new potatoes, wok-style vegetables, teriyaki glazed striploin steak, and sesame garlic chicken. A decadent Japanese chocolate roll cake had been pre-set on tables for dessert.
The legendary Motown group Kool & the Gang quickly got the crowd on the dance floor, moving, grooving, and singing along to iconic songs like "Get Down on It," "Ladies Night," and of course their signature hit - "Celebration."
Powerhouse Band revved up again to take the party into the late-night hours. At 11:15 pm, the lucky winners of the raffle prizes - including a Mercedes Benz - were announced. Those who chose to continue the good times danced past midnight and enjoyed some late-night pork belly bao buns and different flavors of mochi.
Upon saying "Sayonara" for the night, each guest went home with a few fortune cookies and a beautiful porcelain Limoges-style box adorned with cherry blossoms - a gift from Collections Fine Jewelry.
Co-founded in 1953 by Nenetta Burton Carter as a fundraiser for Cook Children's Medical Center, Jewel Charity has raised more than $75 million in its 68 years. In the past year, over $2 million (and counting) has been raised.
Among those spotted in the crowd, having a great time for a great cause, were William Shivers, Chris Steuart, Tim Howell, Amy Howell, Lindsey Corder, Cooper Corder, Travis Patterson, Anna Patterson, Justin Anderson, Boo Lively, Suzanne Bahan, Dana Quisenberry, Sabrina Speirs, Patty Williams, Cortney Pelley, Kristi Brhlik, Elizabeth Brhlik, Lauren-Ashton Moncrief, Gaylord Lummis, Bradley Lummis, Kathryn Ellis, Thomas Ellis, Grant Harris, Robyn Harris, Beth Stevener, Michael Stevener, Jane Berkowitz, Michael Berkowitz, Jeanice King, Kevin Dukes, Melissa Dukes, Austin King, Margaret McDonald, Stuart McDonald, Craig Collins, Trey Fielder, Ann Fielder, Merle Tanner, Cynthia Tanner, Kim Carey, Dan Carey, Miller Vance, Selwyn Rayzor, Tim Hicks, Claire Hicks, and more than 1,300 other big-hearted supporters.