Society / Featured Parties

Dallas’ Glittering $6.8 Million Night — the Crystal Charity Ball Raises the Bar Again

One of the Biggest Nights of the Social Season Leaves Plenty of Memories

BY // 01.07.20
photography Images courtesy of Dana Driensky and Haynsworth Photography

For those not in-the-know, The Crystal Charity Ball (CCB) is the glittering highlight of the Dallas social season. It has traditionally occurred at the beginning of December, which can be unpredictable when it comes to the weather. I remember one year when most of North Texas shut down due to a few days of ice storms — the storied super freeze of 2013.

Many from the well-heeled CCB committee wondered if anyone would actually show up (and brave the treacherous roads) to the Hilton Anatole’s ballroom that wintry evening. It ended up being a glorious night and felt like one of those snow days growing up. It truly was an excuse for the ladies to whip out a full-length sable to throw on over a sparkling gown.

Yes, this is the night for that outfit. Anything that might be described as voluminous, extravagant, or perhaps indulgent is called for at CCB. Go big or go home (in this case to a Highland Park Tudor) as some might say.

This year’s theme was “South American Mosaic” and honored the 1,500 donors who helped the committee raise a record $6.8 million for 10 beneficiaries: Child & Family Guidance Center; Community Partners; Cristo Rey Dallas College Prep; For the Nations Refugee Outreach; Interfaith Family Services; Jubilee Park & Community Center; Los Barrios Unidos Community Clinic; Mercy Street; Promise House and Readers 2 Leaders.

A mosaic refers to individual pieces put together that form an amazing image when viewed from afar. This night was an amazing amalgamation of Dallas philanthropic elite and passionate voluteers. Longtime patrons, and some new donors as well attended Crystal Charity Ball to contribute to a great cause. Amidst the fun and frivolity (casino games anyone?) cocktails were sipped and dancing ensued.

The evening for Crystal Charity Ball begins at the door with fanciful dancers. (Photo by Images courtesy of Dana Driensky and Haynsworth Photography)
The evening for Crystal Charity Ball begins at the door with fanciful dancers. (Photo by Images courtesy of Dana Driensky and Haynsworth Photography)

To get everyone in a South American frame of mind, the creative Jan Strimple and her team at Jan Strimple Productions had staged dancers right inside the entrance doors to the Hilton Anatole in elaborate costumes to get the guests ready for their evening ahead. Models resembling leopards, butterflies and birds of the Amazon pranced on podiums. This was no simple feat as Strimple always wants to make sure very little is spent on the staging so the majority of funds raised go straight to the grant recipients.

One challenge was the macaw costume that required numerous feathers— and who knew plumage was so expensive? Strimple and her frequent collaborator Rob Bradford showed their resourceful side and met the challenge by acquiring some vintage Vegas headdresses at a bargain that were then re-purposed.

For those of you who have not attended the Crystal Charity Ball, one of the best moments is the reveal of the grand ballroom. This year I brought my dear friend, Christopher Wood, since it’s always fun to watch someone else experience CCB for the very first time. His eyes widened as we entered the Anatole’s Chantilly Ballroom to see the grand space transformed by Ball chairman Pat McEvoy and designer Tom Addis, with a chocolate brown and gold motif.

Our dining companions were Sabrina and Field Harrison. Sabrina was in a gorgeous fuschia Alex Perry dress. While we dined on a sumptuous meal of coriander crusted scallops, followed by Cojita crusted beef tenderloins and then a spectacular chocolate dessert that resembled a poinsettia, the James Davis Orchestra played tunes that transported us to a bygone era of formality and bon vivants.

Some of the best-dressed ladies that evening included one of my favorite fashionistas, Shelle Sills. Sills was a recent PaperCity Bomb girl who has a background in fashion and for the ball this year she wore a gold Safiyaa column dress (she reminded me of the coveted Oscar statue). Also floating about was Melinda Knowles in a Lela Rose gown with a plunging neckline paired with Lele Sadoughi earrings, Lisa Cooley in a radiant blue Patti Flowers gown with gold detailing on the shoulders, Bela Cooley in a gorgeous yellow Marchesa and Annika Cail in beautiful Carolina Herrera and Gianvito Rossi shoes. Katherine Coker opted for a black and gold vintage gown with a fur capelet and Ashley Hunt went with a green and white dress. “The floral print reminds me of South America,” Hunt noted as she kicked up her Blahnik heels with samba flair.

As we left the Anatole that night with our beautifully wrapped blue boxes (I knew something fabulous from Tiffany & Co. was inside and came home to find an elegant crystal candlestick — perfect if I want to play a glamorous home-version of the board game Clue) I passed a packed ballroom dance floor on the way out. Apparently from the text I received from Shelle Sills, it was a party-ready crowd that still filled the dance floor at 1 am.

PC Seen: Forty Five Ten’s Cindy Schwartz and Travis Christian, Lynn McBee, Annette Simmons and Jerry Fronterhouse, Malcolm and Vinnie Reuben, Francie and Kevin Moody-Dahlberg, Lisa and Kenny Troutt, Tavia and Clark Hunt, Diane and Hal Brierley, Melinda and Steve Winn, Ken Schnitzer, Jacqueline Fojtasek, Anita and Truman and Arnold, Kelli and Jerry Ford.

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