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Devereux Millwood gala goes retro

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New York - The Foundation for Educating Children with Autism (FECA), celebrated the 10th annual Fall gala by turning back the clock nearly 60 years to present Grease is the Word, a 50’s style sock-hop reminiscent of the 1978 movie “Grease”. Didi “Frenchy” Conn, a.k.a. Beauty School Drop-Out, and her husband, music composer David Shire, were honorary chairs of this nostalgic star-studded Saturday, October 21, 2006 at the Hilton Rye Town in Rye Brook, NY.

With a guest list of nearly 500 people, FECA’s Grease-themed throwback to the 50’s included live entertainment, silent and live auctions and special guest appearances by original “Grease” cast members. The evening commenced with the arrival of Fonzie look-a-likes, women in poodle skirts and a few guests donned Lettermen’s and Pink Ladies’ jackets.

Phil Orlando, Senior Vice President, Federated Global Investment Management Corp. and a founding FECA board member, served as the master of ceremonies and kicked-off the program with a special FECA Lifetime Achievement Award presentation to RuthAnn Brazill who was heralded as “FECA’s icon”. Brazill was recognized for her contributions to children with autism and the many lives she’s touched through her philanthropic efforts.

Didi Conn hosted the stroll down memory lane and was accompanied by Grease’s Barry “Doody” Pearl, one of the T-Birds, and Dody Goodman, who played Blanche, the assistant principal. Jocko Marcellino, from Sha Na Na, and the Grease Party Band, was the in-house entertainment. Annette Charles who played Cha Cha DeGregorio demonstrated the “hand-jive” and “stroll” for a packed dance floor and then the audience showed off their new skills in a dance contest.

The event culminated with surprise on-screen appearances by Olivia Newton-John, who played the lead of Sandy in the movie, and Rosie O’Donnell of ABC’s The View, who played Rizzo in the Broadway rendition of the classic, brought the audience to their feet in acclamation and appreciation of the celebrities’ heartfelt sentiments and support of FECA.

Grease is the Word was produced by Event Solutions, a Hospitality Resource Group (HRG) company, based in White Plains, NY. Working with their creative set design and production teams, HRG transformed the ballroom of the Hilton Rye Town into a roaring 50’s experience with a 60 foot long diner backdrop, check tablecloths, neon rock ‘n’ roll signs, life-size renderings of Elvis and other 1950’s icons, authentic “Grease” photographs and record albums as centerpieces. Floor to ceiling-high video screens featured popular “Grease” clips including “Summer Nights”, “Greased Lightning” and “Hand-Jive” shown karaoke style. Event guests couldn’t help but sing and dance along. Other nostalgic features included an old-fashioned soda fountain and photo booth.
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