Usually at New York City charity events, the well-heeled guests try to act cool and nonchalant about the celebrities in attendance. The publicists will excitedly whisper that “you know who” is on his or her way, and when he or she finally arrives (late, of course), the other, less recognizable guests mill around trying not to seem too impressed or get caught staring.
But at Tuesday night’s Bunny Hop at FAO Schwarz there was no hiding the excitement. Guests literally jumped up and down and squealed in anticipation of who was waiting for them upstairs.
Madeleine Corman, center, 7, pets a chinchilla held by Gerald Zelenka.
Of course, that’s because most of those guests were under the age of 12 and the “celebrities” at this event included “Wendy the Pipe Cleaner Lady” and “Magic Al.”
The floor piano at FAO Schwarz.
Celine Ellis, center, 3, has her face painted while Chloe Acquavella, right, waits in line.
For the 22nd year, the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center held its Bunny Hop to benefit the Pediatric Family Housing Endowment, which assists families with overnight stays associated with Sloan-Kettering’s Pediatrics Department. This year, almost 900 tickets were sold for theTiffany TIF -0.16% & Co.-sponsored event and over $311,000 was raised.
Shoshanna Gruss, chairman of the Society of Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Associates Committee—the younger arm of the society—brought her nearly 8-year-old daughter, Sienna, for what she guessed was her sixth year. “She looks forward to this all year long. She already asked about Al and the pipe cleaner lady.”
Elizabeth Eginton, left, and her sister, Allison Migone
Asked whether Sienna was taking after her mother’s love of fashion (Ms. Gruss owns Shoshanna, a clothing and swimwear label), Ms. Gruss said: “She’s super into fashion but she’s drawn to the opposite things I am. She’s a cool skateboard girl. She plays the drums and is in a band. And she races out of her school uniform to put on her Vans.” (We should note that Ms. Gruss was wearing sky-high heels).
Ms. Gruss said her daughter is very proud of the work her mother does at the hospital, which includes organizing events that boost patients’ morale—such as the pediatric prom, Valentine’s Day and Halloween parties. “The children have a lot of fun at the Bunny Hop, but they know why we’re here today.”
And for many, the connection to the hospital is personal. Jessica Oliver attended the Bunny Hop with her kids, one of whom—10-year-old Kate Davis—was treated for leukemia at Sloan-Kettering several years ago. “We came here when she was sick, but now it’s a real celebration,” Ms. Oliver said.
Kate fondly remembers some of the clowns who entertained her while she was at the hospital, and she left Tuesday night’s party smiling ear to ear, showing off a pipe cleaner pencil she made with Wendy the Pipe Cleaner Lady.
That pipe cleaner lady (nee Wendy Baner) was hard to miss, dressed in sparkly overalls and a whole range of pipe cleaner accessories—earrings, bangles, a necklace and huge bunny ears. She stood next to a “cart of fun,” filled to the brim with thousands of pipe cleaners of all varieties and colors (from neon to tie-dyed), which she deftly made into rings, crowns and more.
“Who knew pipe cleaners would get me on Martha Stewart?” she said with a laugh.
Asked whether she considers herself an artist, Ms. Baner said, “Yes, creative lunatic.”
Just in case there was doubt as to how popular Ms. Baner’s creations are, this writer’s 2½-year-old has refused to take her pipe cleaner tiara off since it was placed on her head.
Jerry Zelenka (dubbed “the animal guy” by the under-10 crowd), wowed the junior set with exotic animals like tarantulas, snakes and even a baby alligator (but he says it is the soft, cuddly baby mice and rabbits that are most popular).
While Mr. Zelenka was there to entertain the kids (many of whom shrieked and giggled at the sight of the more “dangerous” animals), he also has a personal connection to the cause, having been treated for cancer twice at Sloan-Kettering. He was accompanied by his daughter and co-worker, Christine, and his nearly 2-year-old granddaughter, Isabel, who was there just for fun.
And there was no shortage of fun to be had, and guests were treated to stations featuring magic, sand art, cookie decorating, balloon animals and more.
But sometimes it is the less flashy things that kids notice. “I like the cheeseburgers,” said 11-year-old Sophia Mazuel.
Now, on a more serious note, anyone have tips on persuading a toddler to take off her pipe-cleaner crown?
A version of this article appeared March 7, 2013, on page A24 in the U.S. edition of The Wall Street Journal, with the headline: Hops, Skips, Jumps For Sloan-Kettering.
Great New Films And Parties Celebrated Over The Holidays!
|by Jennifer Tuesday|
|[Excerpt from Dec 23 2009 post] Of course with the Holiday season in full swing the parties are endless – recession or not.Bonnie Comley and husband and producing partner Stewart Lane moved their annual Holiday do to the prestigious Harmonie Club as the guest list – some 300 – was a little much for their New York apartment. Beside the terrific crowd of show folks, Comley-Lane had the most wonderful Santa we have ever seen at a party and the amazing Wendy Baner, “The Pipe Cleaner Lady” who with a flick of the wrist and an assortment of tinsel covered pipe cleaners created faux jewels, Peace signs, musical notes and even dreidels for the gang who acted like little kids each time she wove her magic! You can catch Wendy and her pipe cleaners on Martha Stewart this week for a crash course in creating your own tinsel treasures.As always, the couple’s parties are truly ecumenical affairs and this was no exception as Christmas, Chanukah and Kwanzaa were all part of the celebration. Enjoying the lavish buffet, we spotted a host of Hamptons’ friends including producers Margo McNabb andJimmy Nederlander, Friar’s Club impresario Randi Levine Miller, actress/writer/directorKate Mueth, publicists Liz Derringer and Robert Zimmerman, society photographer Ann Watt Dylan Page, Mary Ellen Winston, Tony Vargas, Emanuel Sylvano, singer Julie Budd, Steiner Studios’ David andSylvia Steiner, Roger Webster, author Ward Morehouse III, Jason Grant, Caroline Winston and Sherry Eaker. As always celeb photo man Rob Rich chronicled – for better or worse – the partiers!|