I know that the Plaza Hotel in its current incarnation is not THE fabled Plaza Hotel of yore – especially since they turned some of the space into condominiums, it is no longer totally a hotel. Despite this truth, when I walked up the red carpeted entrance, saw the flags flying over that famous canopy, and entered the marbled hall, I cast aside my jaded New Yorker hauteur. I stood outside the Palm Court channeling my inner Walter Matthau acting in Neil Simon’s Plaza Suite and recalling Kay Thompson’s Eloise, the little girl who lived in the Plaza Hotel.
The Plaza’s iconic status enabled it to serve as the perfect venue for the Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation Annual Benefit Gala. The Foundation, which supports the Division of Pediatric Hematology and Oncology at New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center, adheres to a standard of excellence in the treatment of children with chronic, life-threatening cancers and blood disorders.
The children are cared for by pediatric specialists who combine advanced comprehensive care with an atmosphere of compassion and hope. I am exceedingly impressed by the fact that no child is ever turned away for treatment due to financial circumstances. Little Eloise would applaud the fact that some of her peers are in such good hands.
Charles Grodin was the Master of Ceremonies at the event which included cocktails, dinner, and silent and live auctions. The Key to Life Award was presented to Katie Couric and the Breakthrough Spirit Award was presented to singer/songwriter Daryl Hall and NBA champion Trent Tucker.
I spent my time at the cocktail reception perusing the items available at the auctions. It seemed to me that the Plaza was turned into Fantasy Island. Guests had the chance to act out their fantasies in that they could tour Yankee Stadium with a championship player, fly in a fighter plane, attend the Grammy Awards and Saturday Night Live —and even snag a motorcycle.
As I examined the requisite available jewelry, clothing, and bags, I found private humor in the fact that even on Fantasy Island—and even the imaginative capabilities of the likes of Kay Thompson and Neil Simon—could not enable me to appear as if I belonged as a participant in one of the offered items: the Dance with the Rockettes Experience Package. No way that slightly zaftig me could ever be a Rockette. Full disclosure: Walter Matthau would have been a better Rockette than moi.
Black dresses of varying styles and lengths served as the evening’s de rigueur attire. Katie Couric stood out in her beautiful emerald green gown and long rhinestone earrings. I thoroughly enjoyed my opportunity to see her in person! In that her husband died of colon cancer, she signifies cancer’s pervasive impact upon our lives. The wonderful work of organizations such as the Children’s Cancer & Blood Foundation are meaningful to her—and to us all.
All of the proceeds raised at the event supported the Foundation’s cause. I am not really sure that “packed to the rafters” appropriately applies to the Plaza Hotel’s iconic gilded halls. But, be that as it may, the event was indeed packed to the rafters—and I was so glad!