Guest Carol Evans runs for the shuttle as torrential winds and rain whip into “Dinner on the Bridge” at about 7 p.m. yesterday.
The “Dinner on the Bridge,” a benefit for the Arts & Culture Alliance which closed the Gay Street Bridge last night, was supposed to end at 8:30. Instead, it came to an abrupt conclusion at 7 p.m. when torrential wind and rain swooped in, turning over tables and sending wine and water glasses crashing to the street.
Nevertheless, it was a big success, raising more than $55,000 and giving about 200 folks an evening of camaraderie, music, dinner and a chance to bid on dozens of pieces of original local art. The only live auction item (thank you for not having dozens of those!) brought $1,100 for a whimsical work by artist Ryan Blair.
I was nervously watching my Dark Sky app on my cellphone, which at first said the bad weather would arrive in 45 minutes. Then 25. Then 3. Then 1. And WHAM, it hit. I was pretty impressed by that app!
And by the storm. Folks had umbrellas turned inside out as they scrambled off the bridge and to their cars. The Arts & Culture Alliance, anticipating the weather, thoughtfully hired several vans to drive guests to their vehicles. Thanks to Executive Director Liza Zenni for that!
It was a night to remember.
Things started out well enough. Look at those blue skies (and our friend Jon Gustin) at around 5:30.
We loved the model of the Henley Bridge built out of LEGO blocks. Liza Zenni met its creator, Peter Campbell, when she saw the model on display at the Tennessee Valley Fair this year, and she invited him to display it at “Dinner on the Bridge.”
We did notice some disturbing clouds when we looked north.
Mayor Madeline Rogero, right, was among those arriving early to mingle. With her are, from left, K-Kin Fairbank Biggs, Knoxville law director Charles Swanson, U.S. District Judge Pam Reeves, and Sara Rose.
Jerry and Susan Becker.
Pear and honey crostini were tasty.
Members of the Knoxville Jazz Orchestra performed during cocktails. From left, Andrew LaPrise, Jon Hamar and Hunter Deacon.
From left, Mickey Mallonee, Cathy Briscoe-Graves and Helen Harb.
Cheri Elliott and Michael Torano.
From left, Alan Carmichael, Jennifer Willard and Nathan Rowell.
Best passed appetizer: mini beef Wellingtons. Yummy.
Wow! What a jacket! Bryan Wilkerson and Elena Jolly.
John and Leslie Fawaz, left, and Carol and Vince Fusco.
Lobster salad was pretty darn good, too.
Dave and Sarah Miller, left, with Doug and Carolyn Leahy.
From left, Marsha Grieve, Elizabeth Justus, Rob Johnson and Ellen Bebb.
Vice Mayor Duane Grieve, left, with Laurens Tullock and Alan Carmichael.
Smoked salmon cucumber bites.
The folks in charge wisely moved things along due to the angry-looking weather.
It was a fun but nervous crowd as we took our seats.
Justin and Kristin Bailey.
Leland and Michelle Murphy.
Each table had a centerpiece produced by a local artist. All were for sale.
Haha. A cat house by Hugh Bailey. Love his animals.
Loved this cute fox.
From left, Sylvia Peters, Susan Arbital, Mary Siler Walker and Margo Clark.
Ted Smith, left, and David Butler.
The main course was steak and grilled shrimp with asparagus and delicious potatoes au gratin.
Or you could have a stuffed portabella, if you preferred a vegetarian option.
County Commissioner Brad Anders and his wife, Jennifer.
From left, Coral Turner, John Craig and Rick and Marilyn Turner.
K-Kin Fairbank Biggs, left, and Sara Rose.
Phyllis and Jim Nichols.
Jerry and Kathryn Sinclair.
Bill and Susan Morris.
Because he is on a “heart healthy” diet, Alan is only allowed to have two desserts per month. He opted to use one of those on this evening’s red velvet cake!
Eddie Mannis and Erin Donovan.
Liza Zenni, executive director of the Arts & Culture Alliance, made welcoming remarks about the state of art and culture in our community: good!
Mayor Rogero spoke briefly and turned the podium over to County Commissioner Bob Thomas, who auctioned off our one auction item.
The sole artwork to be auctioned was that of Ryan Blair, here with his wife, Meredith.
And then the rain and wind hit, and everyone decided it was time to vacate!
When the tables went down, the shattering glassware was somewhat alarming.
The tall tables took the brunt of the beating.
Let’s get out of here!
The storm was not going to be a quick one.
Vickie Lawson of East Tennessee PBS stopped under the shelter to chat with Marsha and Duane Grieve.
Sam Maynard gave Mickey Mallonee a hug. And the party was over!