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OfficeMax’s Green Tie Ball XXI

Alice In Wonderland in Chicago

by Marina Lambropoulos – September 18, 2012

Step into the magical world of Wonderland… the most celebrated charity event of the year, the Green Tie Ball XXI was held last Saturday (September 15) at Finkl & Sons. It was a small, intimate, glitzy affair for, oh, just over 3,000 people. This year’s Alice in Wonderland theme was the perfect way to celebrate Gateway Green’s achievements in keeping Chicago’s landscape beautiful and believing that anything is possible. Windy City Live‘s male host Ryan Chiaverini, co-emcee for the event and recent Cheeky Guy of Summer, was very honored to be involved in the “best event of the year” that unites media figures, politicians, local celebs and young professionals to honor our great clean city.

I was immediately greeted on the whimsical green carpet by friendly, life-sized, green-suited rabbits, Champagne and bubbles floating through the colorfully lit sky. The night kicked off with Windy City Live’s Val Warner and Ryan Chiaverini introducing Co-Chairs Corri McFadden (eDrop-Off, VH1’s House of Consignment) and Donald J. Storino (Principal and Co-Founder of the government affairs firm Fidelity Consulting Group, LLC.), as well as Grant DePorter (Chairman of Chicago Gateway Green and President of Harry Caray’s Restaurant Group) who continues his father’s legacy. Many of you may not know that it was Don DePorter, Grant’s father, who founded Chicago Gateway Green in 1986 and is greatly responsible for contributing to the rebirth of Chicago.

There were two tents filled with food samplings from 70 incredible Chicago restaurants; a few of my favorites included III Forks, Public House, GT Fish & Oyster, Roka Akor, Tavernita, Davanti Enoteca, Harry Caray’s, Mercadito and Untitled - the glowing cotton candy stick was a crowd pleaser and worth the sticky hands! I had to meet the talented teens from the After School Matters Culinary Arts Program at Bethlehem Lutheran Church who were standing proud next to their large towering Alice in Wonderland-themed cakes; even more impressive, perhaps, were the 700 cookies they made for the event. Wirtz Beverage Group, Real Russian Vodka cocktails and Goose Island beer kept the beverages a-pouring throughout the night.

A separate, third tent was transformed into a pop-up Rivers Casino, which featured roulette, blackjack, craps and a silent auction where all the winnings from the casino games went towards tickets for the raffle. It was super fun to watch the energetic crowd gamble away for charity as well as to spot a few notable local celebs. Kathy Hart, Eddie Volkman, Alexi Giannoulias, Roe Conn, Richard Roeper, Patti Blagojevich, Lee Golub, Candace Jordan and more!

Early entertainment on the main stage included music by Dr. Bombay and a visual puppet-like spectacle by Redmoon Theatre, which drew lots of attention to say the least. Around 10pm, Chicago-based DJ Rock City hit the main stage and got the party started. However, when Chicago native celebrity DJ Pete Wentz of Black Cards finally performed, the party hit its peak; Wentz rocked the house. On a side note, I was quite impressed with Wentz’s threads – Pete wore a forest green suit from Suit Supply and his girlfriend Meagan Camper rocked TopShop; they were styled by Chicago’s very own celebrity stylist (another Cheeky Guy of Summer), Eric Himel.

Cover band South of 80 closed out the event with a bang – Ryan Chiaverini joined in on “Sweet Home Alabama” and the final song of the night was complete. The late night Garrett’s Popcorn was icing on the cake.

Gateway Green’s signature Green Tie Ball soiree is a wonderful wonderland that left me feeling enchanted. Each year plenty of first rate restaurants, drinks, eclectic entertainment, charitable style gaming, celebs and Chicagoans come together to help create a natural green landscape for an improved quality of life. Gateway Green has been dedicated to beautifying and greening Chicago’s expressways, gateways and communities for more than 21 years. Let’s continue to make Chicago one of the most beautiful cities in the world! For more information on this non-profit organization, visit or their Facebook page at

(Photo Credit: Timothy Hiatt.) 


About the Author: Marina Lambropoulos

Marina is on a never ending quest to find the best destinations Chicago has to offer. Known for her whatever-it-takes enthusiasm, love for dining, celebrities and attending fun events in her very own hometown, Marina loves all things Chicago. She is naturally in tune with the pulse of the city - following it, finding it and sharing it.