Five Austin parties that sparkled

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Kate Perez and Hector Perez with Gabriel Hardin (little) At the Ice Ball.

Kate Perez and Hector Perez with Gabriel Hardin (little) At the Ice Ball.

Ice Ball for Big Brothers Big Sisters

The first gala of this fall Austin social season turned out to be a big one. And a good one. The Ice Ball has long benefited Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Texas, a $1.5 million or so annual effort to mentor 1,000 kids. A repeated phrase: “We have another 1,000 on a waiting list, so if you could only help …” Mingling at the Hyatt Regency’s Zilker Ballroom, we ran into loyal friends of the Austin community, including former Statesman editor Kathy Warbelow, a model of good works in retirement, as well as Dick and Sara Rathgeber. I won the reporters’ lottery and was seated next to Mr. Rathgeber for the flavorsome dinner. I heard enough zesty tales about the evolution of Austin business and charity to last a season.


Helen Merino and Robert Matney at Austin Shakespeare’s “Wolf Hall” Salon.

Austin Shakespeare’s “Wolf Hall” Salon

It is not overstatement to say that Hilary Mantel’s “Wolf Hall” completely recast the model of the historical novel. Gone are the usual clunky exposition and the purple prose. Instead, her novels that delved into the life of English statesman Thomas Cromwell present modern characters embedded in a convincing 16th-century world, winning two Man Booker Prizes along the way. Although a national tour of the London/West End version is expected, Austin Shakespeare nabbed the rights for a staged reading Sept. 22-25 at the Long Center. At the Louis XV-style home of Annie Chandler, we munched on ready snacks, then heard company players read snippets from the script. Quite the theatrical group, including super-backers Marc and Carolyn Seriff, turned out.


Part of our booth at Thinkery21.


Millennials need their nights, too. Thinkery21 lets grown-ups eat, drink, mingle and learn at the Thinkery, formerly known as the Austin Children’s Museum. Present at the museum’s invitation to promote the Austin History Center and my book, “Indelible Austin,” I asked each young adult who stepped up to our booth: “What do you know about Austin’s past?” The most popular answer: “Not much.” Yet they asked sharp questions, especially about the dozen photos we displayed from the “Battle of Barton Creek,” the grassroots effort, mostly in the 1980s and ’90s, to protect the water quality of Barton Springs. (See the photos on the Austin Found blog.) New Austin is curious about Old Austin. We’ll continue to encourage the conversation.


Sirena Gutierrez and Jeffrey Saeling at #texas4000 Tribute Dinner.


Texas 4000 Tribute Gala

In just a few short years, the Texas 4000 Tribute Gala, which salutes University of Texas students who bike from Austin to Anchorage to raise money and cancer awareness, has become one of Austin’s essential social experiences. This year at the JW Marriott, the 66 riders — all with their own cancer stories — beamed from the stage and in three sterling videos. Some of the 660 alumni as well as families made up a good portion of the crowd. Increasingly, however, others are learning about this three-month ride — the three routes go through the Sierras, Rockies and Ozarks — that has raised more $7 million and has transfigured the lives of the participants. Rider Laura Elizondo, who got engaged at ride’s end: “I learned to front-load the pain. I now do it every day.”


Courtesy of The Feed.

South Austin Lunch Scene

After Café No Sé opened last year — just two short blocks from our house — it quickly became our default lunch place. It still is. Yet we love the fresh attention given to other lunch and brunch scenes in our walkable hood. Vinaigrette, with its tasty,  healthy but not overloaded salads, is a tempting option. June’s, the latest gem from McGuire Moorman Hospitality, encourages one to sample matching wines at every meal. Fresa’s Chicken Al Carbon recently opened up around the corner from us, so we’ll test out that location soon. In our heads, we can count 50 worthy eateries within easy walking distance of our house.

UPDATE: Laura Elizondo’s and Dick Rathgeber’s names was misspelled in an earlier version of this post.

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