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Horticultural Society Women’s Board raises funds for area youth program

Peg Steve Lombardo with Monsignor BolCardinal George

Peg and Steve Lombardo with Monsignor Boland and Cardinal George

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Updated: January 14, 2012 8:12AM

The Women’s Board of the Chicago Horticultural Society held its sixth annual winter gala at the Chicago Botanic Garden earlier this month. More than 300 revelers gathered for the seasonal soiree, which spotlighted a spectacular centerpiece — the Wonderland Express (an exhibit that runs through Jan. 1) featuring twinkling, scale models of Chicago’s neighborhoods and landmarks made out of natural materials like moss and mushrooms, connected by 11 whistling miniature trains.

Susan Tupper acted as dinner chairwoman and was joined by Cindy and Ben Lenhardt, Nancy and Ron Kurz and Melissa and Bill McClayton, as well as Peggy Carr, the longest-serving member of the Women’s Board. Partygoers toured a few of the greenhouses while sipping cotton-candy-topped martinis before retiring to one of three elegantly appointed rooms to dine on grilled filet of beef and lobster mac ’n’ cheese.

The festive fund-raiser raked in some serious lettuce — more than $275,000 — for the Botanic Garden’s Community Garden Programs: Green Youth Farm and Windy City Harvest. These shared plots, located in low-income areas in and around Chicago, help educate residents about healthy eating, gardening and entrepreneurship while increasing access to fresh produce and creating beautiful, neighborhood spaces for all to enjoy. Dinner vice-chair Susan Spears (who attended with her husband David) described the programs as “victory gardens for the 21st century. They are about futures, and they are about hope.”


Catholic Charities kicked off the Christmas season with its Spirit of Saint Nicholas Ball, held Dec. 2 at the Hilton, 720 S. Michigan. The gala welcomed more than 1,200 partygoers to celebrate with cocktails, dinner and plenty of dancing at the 22nd annual event.

Co-chairs Kevin and Roberta Cleary stood at the top of the grand staircase with Cardinal Francis George and Catholic Charities Chicago President and CEO Michael M. Boland, greeting guests as they entered the party. Notable names spotted among the crowd included Former Illinois Attorney General Jim Ryan with his wife, Marie; Steve and Peg Lombardo, owners of Gibson’s Restaurant Group, and Ed Wehmer of Wintrust Financial.

Guests supped on lobster tail and filet mignon between mid-dinner trips to the dance floor as the Larry King Orchestra played on. Tickets to the festive fete began at $400, and all funds raised go to the children served by Catholic Charities programs across Lake and Cook counties.

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