Sunday, February 10, 2008

The Chicago Consular Ball at Chicago Hilton Grand Ballroom

Friday, February 8, 2008

The Chicago Consular Ball.

The annual black-tie formal where Consuls General from countries around the world gather once a year, and dressed in their tuxes and gowns, chat, dine & dance.

This year, we were guests of honor. Here we are with Peggy Parfenoff, International Visitors Center of Chicago and Honorable Georges Rioux, Consul General of Canada.

Where hors d'oeuvres, so luxurious, were reminiscent of our days as filmmakers at the Montreal World Film Festival, the world premiere of our film, "Singing the Bones".

Here's Gord with Tony and Valentine between the shrimp and lobster on ice.

A sort of chime/gong called all to the grand ballroom. Ballerinas danced near tables with glorious centerpieces.

The "Grand March of the Chicago Consular Corps", presented each Consul General to the crowd, under a spotlight.

We all stood and sang the United States national anthem.

Here's Gord with Donna Sadlicka, the soprano who performed with an absolutely unbelievable voice.

At the silent auction, we were out-bid. Canada's contribution was a dinner for four with the Canadian Consul General and . . . "world famous Canadian artist, Mr. Gordon Halloran" -- on Valentine's Day.

On the back cover of the 20-page program it said: Special Guest: Gordon Halloran, Artist. We stood at our table as we were announced.

Zygmunt Matynia, the Consul General of the Republic of Poland and his wife sat on either side at dinner at the huge, round table.

On my right a man named, almost unbelievably -- Carl Swanson. This name is so etched in my psyche -- as Carl Robert Swanson was my mother's first husband, killed in World War II just months before the war ended. I wrote a story about my journey to find his grave. (

Also at our table (#42) were Joan and Richard Miller, of Evanston, Illinois. Richard ultimately acted as the auctioneer for the larger items: a trip to London, Buenos Aires and Shanghai. Afterwards he asked me to dance.

Gord was thick in conversation with Aldo Castillo, Director of the Aldo Castillo Gallery -- who wants to bring Paintings Below Zero to Brazil.

I danced with Dan Miltner, whose wife, Kerrie McClimen, is Peggy's best friend. How refreshing it was, to be introduced to someone, hearing the words, "She's my best friend."

Mostly I delighted in the costumery of it all.

Below are Kerri McClimen, Peggy Parfenoff (Executive Director of International Visitors Center of Chicago), Rich McMenamin, Mary Sue Barrett, the Honorable Mads Mikkelson, Consul General of Denmark, and Emily Brinkmoeller.

Another couple, also with a name from my past: Bakayoko. Here: Arquilla & Abou. Bakayoko was the name of a diplomat for The Ivory Coast when I visited Geneva, just after graduating from university. My role, at 21 was au pair for his two sons, Franck and Jacob -- neither of whom I have seen since.

We danced.

until the lights came up

and people started taking home the flowers in the center of the tables. Here's Emily again, and her date, Marcelino Garcia, of the Illinois Department of Commerce & Economic Opportunity.

Tomorrow: the weekend with the Popsicle & Bean

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