Here’s the view from our table Sunday night as sun was setting on the “Dinner on the Bridge” to celebrate Knoxville’s 225th birthday.
What a great idea this was!
To celebrate Knoxville’s 225th birthday, the Arts & Culture Alliance hosted a dinner on the Gay Street Bridge Sunday night complete with keyboard music by Carol Zinavage Shane of the Knoxville Symphony and a reading of his inaugural poem by Knoxville’s new poet laureate, R.B. Morris.
The poem was called, “A Birthday Card to Knoxville,” and it was sweet and moving. Well-known auctioneer Sam Furrow auctioned off a painting of the Gay Street Bridge by well-known artist Mike C. Berry. And Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero announced that “contrary to speculation,” she would not be leaving her post early to accept a position in the Clinton administration should Hillary Clinton be elected president.
Former Knoxville mayor and ambassador to Poland, Victor Ashe, who was in attendance Sunday night, has been promoting that idea for months in his weekly newspaper column in the Shopper News.
Mayor Madeline Rogero: I’m not leaving early.
And also this past Sunday, a writer in the News Sentinel mentioned it as a possibility despite the mayor’s assertion that she has met Hillary Clinton only twice — once 24 years ago when Rogero was a county commissioner and Clinton was campaigning for Bill Clinton, who was running for president, and once earlier this year at a U.S. Conference of Mayors annual meeting. Not exactly a close personal relationship.
The weather Sunday night was ideal for an outdoor event and the short fireworks show was a perfect end to the evening. I propose that we have dinner on the bridge to celebrate Knoxville’s birthday every year!
Note to planners: The only glitch that I could see in this otherwise stellar evening was the fact that they ran out of pinot grigio in the middle of dinner. There was plenty of chardonnay and red wine left. So what does this tell you? People like pinot grigio! Plan accordingly.
As we walked over to the Gay Street Bridge at 5:30, we noticed a hot air balloon was descending in the vicinity of Downtown Island Airport.
The bridge was set up for a party.
Judith Foltz, the city’s director of special events, greets Alan Carmichael.
Suzanne Cada, left, of the Arts & Culture Alliance, chats with Knoxville City Councilman Finbarr Saunders and his wife, Ellen Bebb.
Knox County Commissioner Bob Thomas, left, with Knoxville’s first poet laureate, R.B. Morris, and Morris’ wife, Karly Stribling.
Former Knoxville mayor and current city councilman, Dan Brown, was there with his wife, Cathy.
Amanda Howe of The Pour Guys bartending service is here with Tom Bugg of the Tennessee Theatre. This is when they still had pinot grigio.
These little toasts featuring roasted pear and honey were fantastic. Caterer was All Occasion.
Scott and Christi Branscom.
Liza Zenni, left, head of the Arts & Culture Alliance, with her sister, Anne McKinney. Liza would speak later, saying, “We are looking over our beautiful city and the river that made it possible.” I liked that.
Federal Judge Pam Reeves and her husband, city law director, Charles Swanson.
Chief Federal Judge Tom Varlan with his wife, Dani.
David Butler and Sylvia Peters.
Birgitta Clark and husband Ashley Capps.
Buffalo bites. Mozzarella, tomato and balsamic drizzle.
MIchael Foltz, left, with Gay and Bill Lyons.
Knox County Commissioner Brad Anders with Erin Donovan, left, and Angie Wilson, both of Visit Knoxville.
From left, Alan Carmichael, Susan Creswell, Tom Cervone and Ted Smith.
Scott and Kim Bumpas. She’s head of Visit Knoxville.
City Councilman Mark Campen and his wife, Emily, in center, accompanied by former City Councilman and Vice Mayor Jack Sharp and his wife, Doris.
Nathan Sparks of Cityview magazine hard at work.
City Councilman Marshall Stair and wife, Natalie.
Mary and Scott Bogert.
Mini beef Wellingtons.
Marilyn and Patrick Roddy.
Anthony and Lynn Wise.
Holly and Russ Watkins.
Jeff and Vicki Chapman with Jeff Lee, right.
Avice and Gary Reid.
Alan Carmichael and Becky Hancock, the executive director of the Tennessee Theatre.
Carol Zinavage Shane tickling the ivories.
Christi Branscom and Melynda Whetsel.
Ellen and Gordon Fowler.
City Councilman George Wallace, left, and Laurens Tullock.
Jeff and Lyn Johnson.
Kelly Hider and Bill May from Arrowmont.
Jesse Fox Mayshark and his wife, Casey Fox.
From left, Jim and Angela Pugh, Larry Elmore and Knox County Finance Director Chris Caldwell.
Leila and George Lott with her son, Tristan Hungerford, left.
Mary and Dan Holbrook.
Sue and Art Clancy.
Tom and Pat Bright.
When we sat down, we could see the Sunsphere peeking around the Bank of America Building.
Salads and desserts were on the table.
So were two different kinds of bread. The centerpieces, all made by local artisans, were for sale.
Time for table-hopping. Here’s Sherri Lee, left, visiting with Joan and Victor Ashe.
Bill and Genetta Dittrich-Pugh with Willene Chalmers, at right.
We had asked to be seated with the nicest person in the world — Mickey Mallonee, left, and her friend, Helen Harb.
Mick and Heather Hebert were at our table, too. He’s with UT Medical Center and she’s with the News Sentinel.
Main course was a filet mignon and grilled shrimp.
I asked for a vegetable plate, which was delicious: a portabella mushroom filled with couscous and veggies.
Alan snagged a slice of red velvet cake.
Caesar Stair, chairman of the board of the Arts & Culture Alliance made a few remarks before introducing the mayor and R.B. Morris.
Auctioneer Sam Furrow.
Vice Mayor Duane Grieve helped out by displaying the Mike Berry original.
Here’s Mike Berry.
Cathy and Mark Hill.
Larsen and Adrian Jay.
And then, boom!
From left, Kim Bumpas, Sam Maynard, Rachel Ford, Terry Ford and Mary Bogert on the way out.
Here’s the last thing we saw as we left. A beautiful night. Happy birthday, dear city.