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From the Founder II

Of People and Parties



Bob Capazzo

It’s over! Our Best Of the Gold Coast Connecticut party. At least until next year. “The party of the year,” people told us. So while we at Moffly Publications are basking in the sunshine of such compliments, I thought it timely to reminisce.

It all started five years ago after a City and Regional Magazine conference in Philadelphia. Inspired by events put on by other publications, we decided to book the Hyatt in dull old August and put on our own. So we spent the spring asking our readers to vote for their favorite places in Fairfield County to find everything from barbecue to back rubs. No, the results weren’t rigged.

That first Best Of party — in 2004 — was a real eye-opener. We strung balloons, climbed ladders and helped winners schlep mountains of wares to their booths. (Tiny art director Amy Vischio was witnessed pushing a hand truck loaded with four cases of wine into the ballroom.) Then we waited to see if anybody would come. Long story short: At 7 p.m., midway through the event, as I stood by the revolving door waiting for Congressman Shays to arrive, I learned we had run through all 1,200 yellow wristbands. TV star Lara Spencer sportingly struggled to announce auction winners to the raucous crowd, and realtor David Ogilvy said he’d never seen more people he didn’t know having such a great time. Late in the evening, one young man having too good a time almost clipped me twice riding through the halls on a bike from the winning bicycle shop. I took off after him in my little flat shoes with Hyatt security hot on my tail yelling: “We’ll get him!” A scene out of the Keystone Cops.

It was a huge success. We even had some proceeds, part going to Kids in Crisis, as it has ever since. One glitch: Because staff photographer Bob Capazzo had once used the hotel for a shoot, the Hyatt had his credit card number and charged him for the entire party — over $20,000. Don’t know what it is about Bob, but another year on the loading dock, a three-gallon tub of gazpacho fell off the top of a dolly, exploded on the pavement and covered him head to toe with soup.

On down Memory Lane. One year, Williams and Warren waxed so many eyebrows — at least 100 pairs — that Nancy Ann Warren thought she had developed carpal tunnel; and the guys from Anheuser Busch ran out of beer (ten kegs) and had to buy three more at full price from the Hyatt to get through the night.

This year, the Upper Crust Bagel Company handed out 3,000 bagels; Rowayton Seafood went through 1,200 champagne glasses filled with watermelon gazpacho and king crab. And Modern Mehndi painted Indian designs on arms and ankles nonstop for five hours.

The model wearing a wedding gown from Plumed Serpent got several proposals. At the Noble Salon station, girls in sixties outfits with white go-go boots and bobbed hairdos never stopped dancing, and the tent was packed with people gyrating to the music of the Short Bus.

New this year, thankfully, were Hyatt bouncers, a pair of gentle giants guarding the entrance to the ballroom hall. (Oddly, our smallest editors used to get that assignment.) With almost 2,000 attendees, keeping out crashers is key.

But the next day when Barbara Begley from our marketing department returned to pick up our banner, the halls of the Hyatt were empty, the carpet spotless and the silence deafening. “It was as if nobody had ever been there,” she mused.

We know better. — Donna Moffly

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