How to launch EventCheck Knox? With a party!

Thank you to Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael for writing this guest post for the Blue Streak. This also was posted on EventCheck Knox. -Cynthia Moxley 

Cynthia Moxley introduces EventCheck Knox.

Cynthia Moxley introduces EventCheck Knox.

EventCheck Knox officially launched with – what else – a party!

Cynthia Moxley, CEO of Moxley Carmichael, addressed the party-goers, along with Natalie Haslam, to officially unveil the website and explain the purpose and necessity of EventCheck Knox.

Haslam entertained the attendees with her account of how Knoxville has evolved from a town with little to do when she was in college at the University of Tennessee to one in which every week seems to bring worthwhile events.

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A lesson in tailgating from our Catholic friends

Thank you to Hannah Parker of Moxley Carmichael for writing this guest post for the Blue Streak. -Cynthia Moxley

A former boss of mine used to say, “Rooms have feels to them, you know? They can either give life or suck the life out of you.”

Rooms do have feels to them. And, apparently, so do picnics, such as the one hosted at Sacred Heart Cathedral to launch the Diocese of Knoxville’s fundraising campaign to build a new center of worship.

From left, Tom and Deanene Catani, Pam Rhoades, and Father David Boettner.  Loved his orange pants!

From left, Tom and Deanene Catani, Pam Rhoades and Father David Boettner, rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral. Loved his orange pants!

On a summer afternoon on the first weekend in September, more than 500 people attended a picnic in sweltering heat in a church parking lot. They brought umbrellas, folding camp chairs and blankets because they wanted to be present at an historic event in the life of their church and the life of our community.

Several weeks ago, the Diocese of Knoxville announced plans to build a new cathedral at Sacred Heart. At the picnic last Sunday, the renderings were unveiled, and the campaign formally was launched.

For quite some time, I have been familiar with the work of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. Several years ago, I remember being astounded to learn that nearly 95 percent of the funding they give away goes to non-Catholics.

What I didn’t realize is that Catholicism in East Tennessee is growing. Since the Diocese was founded in 1988, the Catholic population in our area has doubled, and it is expected to double again over the next 10 years. One recent study identified the Knoxville diocese as one of the top 10 fastest growing areas in the country for adult conversions.

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Joan Rivers: No apologies needed

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

The voice on my voice mail was unmistakable. “Hello. This is Joan Rivers.” Only, of course, it sounded like “Riv-ahs.”

“Oh, Lord,” I thought.

It was 1999 and I had just written a little item about Ms. Rivers for my gossip column in the local newspaper here in Knoxville. She recently had appeared at Center Stage, the swanky fundraiser for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Apparently, the performance had gone a little too far for some in the audience, and several people had walked out.

That prompted Bob Koppel, the hospital’s president and CEO at the time (and also a friend of mine), to write a letter of apology to everyone who had attended. I had written about that apology letter.

Rivers was not amused. “You tell that man,” she said on the message, “that NO ONE has to apologize for Joan Rivers!”

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‘Marketing’ downtown with dinner

This watermelon martini had a starring role in our most recent Downtown Progressive Dinner.

This watermelon martini had a starring role in our most recent Downtown Progressive Dinner.

I have to confess, the Downtown Progressive Dinner Club is starting to cheat a lot! Our stated goal is to lure folks we like into moving downtown. But lately, all our “targets” have been people we know who already plan to move downtown! Maybe we should just be honest and call ourselves a welcoming committee for urban living.

Well, it doesn’t really matter. We have fun celebrating life in downtown Knoxville, no matter the excuse.

Our most recent targets were Christi and Scott Branscom, who, by the time we invited them to come along on our progressive dinner last month, already had purchased the last available condo in The Elliott. The Elliott, a beautifully appointed building constructed in the early 1900s, is located on Church Avenue at the intersection of State Street, across the street from where the News Sentinel building used to stand. Since Christi is the deputy to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and works unpredictable hours downtown, she and Scott decided to get a downtown condo as a second residence. Warning to them: That’s how many of us started. Then we discovered we had so much fun downtown that we sold our larger homes in the suburbs and became full-time downtowners. We’ll see how long they hold out! (read more)

The best golf shots come at the parties

Wild piano-playing impressario Jason D. Williams on top of his piano at one of the News Sentinel Open parties.

Wild piano-playing phenomenon Jason D. Williams on top of his piano at one of the News Sentinel Open parties.

The News Sentinel Open Presented by Pilot golf tourney earlier this month was a huge success, organizers say. Golfer Martin Piller walked away with a $99,000 purse and more than 38,000 spectators got a taste of the professional golf experience.

“It was a home run,” said Adrian Pearce of the News Sentinel, who helped pull off the labor-intensive event that requires the services of scores of volunteers. “It keeps getting better and better,” he said.

But for me, the best parts of the week-long string of activities surrounding the tournament were the parties. Technically, they are “pairings parties” for the participants of the Summit Medical Group Pro-Am on Monday and the Calhoun’s Pro-Am Classic on Wednesday to find out which professional golfer they will team with on the course. But, to tell the truth, that technicality easily could be handled by email. It’s just an excuse for two great parties. Which is fine by me.

The first, on Sunday night, is always at Chesapeake’s downtown. It precedes the Summit Medical Group Pro-Am on Monday. (read more)

Urban League treads where needed most

Taylor Gazaway shows off her new sneakers.

Taylor Gazaway shows off her new sneakers.

School has started, and everybody wants new shoes for the occasion. New shoes make you feel special. They give you a great start and a fresh perspective on the new year and all the promise it holds. But some children come from homes where buying new shoes for the start of school is not an option.

That’s where Shoes for School comes in. A service of the Knoxville Area Urban League in partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Shoes for School provides new tennis shoes and school supplies for children in need. Local community organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley and the YMCA handle pre-screening eligibility, and the children get a pair of shoes selected specifically for them.

The 2014 event, now in its 11th year, provided shoes to 1,500 children and school supplies to many more. Organizers estimated more than 4,000 people were at Caswell Park earlier this month for the festivities. And it really was a festival-type atmosphere, rather than a feeling that the kids were receiving charity. (read more)

Museum ‘Collectors’ find culinary masterpiece

At Blackberry Farm, the chip and dip appetizers involve caviar!

At Blackberry Farm, the chip and dip appetizers involve caviar!

We were reminded once again recently that if you pay attention and remain flexible, awesome cultural opportunities can come your way in our little part of the universe. The most recent example: a five-course dinner at Blackberry Farm complete with wine pairings with well-known artists Red Grooms and Andy Saftel.

It seems the good folks at Blackberry Farm turned up with some extra dinner reservations available for an “Artists in Residence” program they had lined up exclusively for Blackberry Farm guests. In order to fill the slots and provide an opportunity for some local art lovers, Blackberry Farm offered members of the Knoxville Museum of Art’s Collectors Circle a chance to buy them. They weren’t cheap. But we thought it was worth $175 each for the over-the-top food and wine for which Blackberry Farm is famous. This is a great example of a win-win-win. Blackberry sold their dinners, Collectors Circle members got a great evening with two popular artists, and Blackberry’s guests got a chance to mingle with some local art lovers. (read more)

All aboard the Big Love Bus! Go Smokies!

Moxley Carmichael intern Martha Ashe boarding the Big Love Bus for a ride to her first baseball game ever!

Moxley Carmichael intern Martha Ashe boarding the Big Love Bus for a ride to her first baseball game ever!

After a crazy, busy week at Moxley Carmichael (not complaining), we were all looking forward last Friday to our planned company excursion on the Big Love Bus to the Tennessee Smokies game.

The Big Love Bus is a client of ours. And Alan and I had purchased at a charity auction a suite at the Smokies — generously donated by Phillips and Jordan. We thought it would be a great combination — and it was.

We stocked the bus with our favorite refreshments (another client is the local Miller distributor, Cherokee Distributing) and when the bus stopped on Union Avenue beside our offices in downtown Knoxville, we all piled on for the 30-mile trip during Friday rush hour traffic. It was the most pleasant evening commute we’ve ever had, thanks to our friendly bus driver, Carlene Collins.

The  Big Love Bus operates in Knoxville and Nashville. It is a wonderful way to get a group around. An old fashioned school bus, it has been completely renovated into a party bus on the inside with two air conditioners, a sound system, comfortable seating, a built-in cooler and other fun amenities, including a chalkboard ceiling for expressing your creativity. (read more)

“God’s Answer to Our Prayers”

You can see both the Tennessee River and the Smoky Mountains from God's Answer to Our Prayers.

You can see both the Tennessee River, in center of photo, and the Smoky Mountains from the garden called God’s Answer to Our Prayers.

A few miles from downtown Knoxville — less than 10 minutes, for sure — lies a romantic, unique and inspiring garden called God’s Answer to Our Prayers – or GATOP, for short.

It belongs to a brilliant cancer physician and researcher, Dr. Alan Solomon, and his wife, Andrea Cartwright. Solomon purchased the 28-acre property in 1971 from a couple named Lynn Hobbs and Jerry Will. They’re the ones who named it. Seems they had been having a hard time finding a place because one of them just  had to live in sight of water and the other had to live in sight of mountains. This property filled both requirements, thus the name, “God’s Answer to Our Prayers.” (read more)

Going mad for a great cause!

Joan? Nah, Deborah Franklin, Joan's spitting image!

Joan? Nah, Deborah Franklin, Joan’s spitting image!

It’s midsummer and the Knox Heritage Summer Suppers are in full swing. As you may know,  Summer Suppers are great little fundraisers for the nonprofit preservation organization, Knox Heritage. They consist of a string of dinner parties, most held in unusual places with a committee of creative hosts who think up entertaining themes, etc.

This one, dubbed “Mad Men Client Appreciation Party,” was held in the brand new offices of BarberMcMurry Architects in the historic Arnstein Building downtown at the corner of Market Street and Union Avenue. Only, on this night, BarberMcMurry was transformed into a 1960s advertising agency in the heart of Manhattan.

Many of us are gearing up for the final episodes of Mad Men, the popular TV show centered around Don Draper and his pals at the ad agency Sterling Cooper. So, it wasn’t hard to coax the 90 party attendees into 1960s attire. Some were even dead ringers for the show’s cast members. Grab your cigarettes and your martini and let’s stroll through the party! (read more)