Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Gorbachev arrival causes excitement

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Guests reported chills of excitement as former Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev entered the Radisson's candlelit ballroom for dinner on Monday. The cocktail reception at the pre-We Day event had been chatty beforehand. A major topic of conversation was the mystery of who determined the prestigious guest list. Guests at dinner included major sponsors, friends of Free the Children, donors, philanthropists and politicians. About 150 guests received the coveted invitations, and security was intense for everyone, starting outside the hotel, in the lobby, at each elevator -- everywhere you looked. Cameras flashed from a secured upper balcony area at the dinner.

After salad, the dinner offered "saskatoon berry and lime pearls with vodka in an ice cup" as a palate cleanser, an entrée of "chicken stuffed with wild mushroom and beef tenderloin with Crown Royal Black jus and roasted garlic chips." Dessert was "mandarin ginger cheesecake with a tropical fruit salad steeped in Grand Marnier and vanilla in an iced teardrop."

Spotted at dinner: Mayor Sam Katz; Premier Greg Selinger; Leo Ledohowski of Canad Inns; Winnipeg Free Press co-owner Bob Silver, editor Paul Samyn and publisher Bob Cox; Hartley Richardson; True North chairman Mark Chipman; David Barnard, president of the University of Manitoba; Rob Johnston, RBC regional president; Palliser president and CEO Art DeFehr; philanthropist Gail Asper; fundraising guru Louis Trepel; Susan Millican, incoming chairwoman of the Winnipeg Foundation; the Winnipeg Airport Authority's Barry Rempel; Safeway honcho John Graham; Kevin Chief, minister for children and youth opportunities; Juno award-winner Shawn Desman; motivational speaker Spencer West; and Marc and Craig Kielburger of Free the Children, the heart and soul of the travelling We Day show.

Katz presented West and Gorbachev with keys to the city. Gorbachev responded with a long and gracious speech. Overheard as he and his entourage left: "It's so incredible to be in the room with this man and yet he's so down to earth, so friendly -- not a formal guy at all."

-- -- --

NOT SO SCARY! The 50 Shades Masquerade Ball brought an artsy crowd -- at least 90 per cent dressed in costume -- to the elegant manor home of Carrie Luce Forsythe with attached business Ambrosia House Apothecary. Spearheaded by Charles Lage, the Saturday night Halloween soirée raised money for the Joyful Noise program, which gives donated, refinished pianos to challenged children and adults who would benefit from piano playing as part of their therapy. Violin virtuoso John Racaru starred in a passionate number that stopped the party's joyful noise for several minutes, as people stared. The Stiff Bishops and LOAD were also on the scene, keeping the place hopping.

-- -- --

CIRCUS SURPRISE: Hoop aerialist Liz Cooper delighted the crowd as she perched high above the ground pouring champagne into glasses at Circus Circus Las Vegas, the Special Olympics gala Friday night at the Delta Inn.

"It's the most exciting event we've done in a long while -- something totally new and fresh," Garvey said.

Talent included caricaturist Wayne Elliot, contortionist Samantha Halas, stilt walkers Sonny and Squire and jugglers Vincent Champagne & Company. Hosts for the night were CTV's Leah Hextall and QX104's Brody Jackson.

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NIGHT OF MIRACLES: Adell Matthys, event co-ordinator for the Children's Rehabilitation Foundation, helped Free Press columnist/sometime auctioneer Doug Speirs raise money Saturday night at the Rehab's big fundraising party at the Winnipeg Convention Centre. As she was leaving the stage, someone whispered to Speirs ear that Matthys could really sing. He started up the bidding again to get her to sing -- and pulled in $600 before she sang a note. Matthys was was joined onstage by a mysterious stranger from the McDonalds table. They sang Abba's Take a Chance on Me a cappella and brought down the house. Then the band came back from a break and leader Danny Kramer said, "We hear there's a great singer in the house and we want to get her back so you can get your money's worth." Matthys got up to do Dancing Queen with full accompaniment. As she started, somebody lifted Waverley Leduc, 8 -- this year's featured child -- on stage. Abba is her favourite band.

"She knew all the words and sang with me," said Matthys, who turned and sang to the girl in the pink dress.

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

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition November 2, 2012 B3

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