Palm Beach hosts The International Red Cross Ball, chaired by the district’s own, Mary Ourisman.
By John Arundel
It is the highlight of what’s called “The Season” in Palm Beach, the reigning queen of all social events in a city awash with do-good philanthropic dollars, The International Red Cross Ball at Donald Trump‘s Mar-A-Lago Estate.
With Washington’s own Mary Ourisman shepherding the festivities as General Chair this year “Hope, Service and Compassion” — not to mention a strong dose of glamour — reigned at the Ball.
About 400 guests and dignitaries from around the world filled the Mar-a-Lago ballroom Saturday to support the American Red Cross with an evening of fine wines, food, and dancing.
“It was a wonderful night as leaders from around the world celebrated the work of thousands of American Red Cross volunteers down the street, across the country, and around the world,” said Red Cross Regional Executive Rob Levine.
With Mary Ourisman presiding over this year’s event, it represented the first time a former U.S. Ambassador has served as General Chairman of the Ball. During the first Bush administration, Ourisman served as U.S. Ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean — Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Kitts and Nevis, St. Lucia, St. Vincent and the Grenadines. She was joined by The Hon. Mary Mochary and Susan Keenan, both serving as co-chairs and, Michele Kessler was this year’s Honorary Chairman.
The evening began with an official receiving of the Ambassadors in the White and Gold Ballroom, leading out to a poolside cocktail hour followed by dinner in the main ballroom.
The Hon. Stuart Bernstein, chair of DC’s Meridian International Center, served as the ball’s Chief of Protocol, welcoming guests. This was followed by the Marines of 4th Air Naval Gunfire Liaison Company presenting the colors. A red carpet procession and a special U.S. Ambassadorial Host Committee, comprised of two dozen former and current U.S. Ambassadors, welcomed world ambassadors from; Mexico, Sweden, Barbados, Slovenia, Trinidad & Tobago, Denmark, and Morocco.
The National Anthem was performed by the evening’s bright star Destiny Davis,10. Also honored for their service and sacrifice were a contingent of U.S. servicemen and women who returned home after being wounded in battle.
The Hon. Bonnie McElveen-Hunter, chairman of the American Red Cross, presented Michele and Howard Kessler this year’s “Chairman Award for Lifetime Leadership” on behalf of the International Red Cross Ball.
McElveen-Hunter also spoke on the vital mission of the Humanitarian Organization: highlighting the efforts of the Red Cross volunteers around the nation.
“The American Red Cross: shelters, feeds and provides emotional support to victims of disasters. It teaches lifesaving skills, provides international humanitarian aid, and it supports military members and their families,” McElveen-Hunter said. “The Red Cross is a charitable organization, not a government agency, and it depends on volunteers and the vital generosity of the American public to perform its mission.”
Ourisman spoke of the true international nature of the affair. In one of the evening’s highlights the crowd stood as one as Ourisman honored the servicemen and women in attendance, while also highlighting the Red Cross mission of service to the armed forces.
“This year’s ball was a spectacular event,” added Levine. “The leadership of Ambassador Ourisman and the support of her husband, Mandell, made the evening both historic and very special for all in attendance.”
For additional information visit www.pbtcredcross.org.