Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

City star-struck by astronaut, big party at Prairie 360

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OUT OF THIS WORLD: A little girl in a white space suit and flashing light-up shoes stalked away from McNally Robinson Booksellers, where they'd just closed the front doors to incoming traffic for the Chris Hadfield book signing. Harrumph! Sneaky new arrivals scooted around to the mall entrance Wednesday only to find a lineup of hundreds of people snaking through the store and the mall. An estimated 1,000 adults and impatient kids came to see their hero and have him sign his book, An Astronaut's Guide to Life on Earth. Event organizer John Toews, with ponytail flying and arms akimbo, kept saying, "Some people have been waiting for more than three hours already, so we need you to clear the area if you're not in the lineup! Please, please everybody!" Who says nobody cares about books anymore!

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THE PARTY: Peter Sellers, star of cult movie The Party, would have loved Saturday night's gala fundraiser celebrating the reopening of the revolving restaurant Prairie 360 at 83 Garry St. This is Noel Bernier's newly renovated three-tier restaurant, bar and private-event spot high above the city. The restaurateur donated all proceeds from the $150-per-ticket fundraiser to the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

"The museum is a wonderful thing for the city and something I believe in," he said.

The soirée started very slowly at 5 p.m. as people trickled in from work. Three hours later, it was a happy 360-degree whirl with 360 guests on board, thoroughly enjoying an open bar plus a delicious buffet of Manitoba foods (bison, elk, wild rice and more). With music acts on three levels, it felt like a New Year's Eve party. People were invited to come in "cocktail-smart" attire and they rose to the occasion, looking New York sophisticated indeed. But like little kids, many stood with their noses pressed against the windows, pointing out all the cranes and new Winnipeg buildings, and exclaiming the city was "really beginning to boom!"

"Your view of Winnipeg is about to change" was Bernier's concept for his Prairie 360 restaurant opening, when he pitched it to the museum as a fundraiser for its opening in 2014. "We just loved the idea!" said Kathi Neal, director of communications for the fundraising arm, Friends of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.

Spotted at the gala: Diane Boyle, CEO of Friends of the CMHR; Noel's fiancée Najara Barros, GM of Carnaval Restaurant, and his sons Liam and Riley. Also on hand: the CMHR's president and CEO Stuart Murray, philanthropists John and Bonnie Buhler, Kenny Boyce, the City of Winnipeg's manager of film and special events, and Stan Tataryn, president of the Liberal Party of Canada (Manitoba).

The Forks' Paul Jordan, Lynne Skromeda of the Winnipeg Folk Festival and eco-guru Bill Dowie also came out to play, as did Ginette Lavack Walters from the Festival du Voyageur. Politicos included city councillors Jeff Browaty, Ross Eadie, Paula Havixbeck, John Orlikow, Justin Swandel, Dan Vandal and Russ Wyatt.

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ALOHA WINNIPEGGERS! Habitat for Humanity welcomed 350 guests to their tropical-themed gala "Aloha! A Tropical Resort Evening", Nov. 7 at the RBC Convention Centre Winnipeg. They were greeted with flower leis and had been told to wear "loud shirts, linen or khaki pants, summer dresses and sandals. "About 65 per cent of the guests dressed up," said Michelle Pereira, Habitat's vice-president of marketing. The room was magical, transformed by Events by Emma, with a tiki bar and sounds of the ocean, and a video screen showing palm trees, oceans and beach. Easter Island dancers in white feathers (Psst! the Folklorama gang) shook up the guests in the nicest way possible. Guests were summoned to dinner with the blow of a conch shell.

All proceeds go directly to helping build a Habitat home for a family in need.

SPOTTED: Gary Hirsch of Hirsch Home Team and Erv Petkau of Nelson River Construction, plus Ken Klassen from Priority Restoration, John Ruban of ProIncon Ltd., Ken McCrae from Wawanesa Mutual Insurance, Leah Cochrane of Cardinal Capital Management, and Kathy Schwartz of KBS Marketing.

 

Got tips, events, sightings, unusual things going on? Call Maureen's tip line at 204-474-1116, email Maureen.Scurfield@Winnipegfreepress.com, or send letters to Maureen Scurfield c/o The Insider, 1355 Mountain Ave., R2X 3B6.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 15, 2013 B3

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