Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida and InterContinental® Miami celebrated the 24th Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball on Saturday, November 3, hosting more than 800 guests at the “Summer of Love”-themed Ball — inspired by freedom, love, dreams and music. The groovy gala was headlined by two-time GRAMMY® Award-winning rock band Chicago Live, and presented by the Finker-Frenkel Legacy Foundation, with opening act by Alisan Porter, winner of NBC’s The Voice 2016, who returned for the third year.
Actress, filmmaker and Ambassador for Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, Gabrielle Anwar, returned as celebrity emcee for the eighth consecutive year, helping the event to raise $2.25 million for Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida. Hosted by Gala Host, Robert Hill, General Manager of InterContinental® Miami, Ball founder and in-kind donor for the past 24 years, the event was chaired by philanthropist Shareef Malnik, Chairman of the Board Emeritus of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, who has served as Ball Chairman for the past 14 years. Regarded as one of the Miami charity season’s leading events, the Ball is the highest grossing fundraising event for the Southern Florida Chapter of Make-A-Wish® Foundation.
Upon arriving at the red carpet, guests were greeted by entertainers dressed in ethereal white gowns with floral headpieces. Welcoming guests were the Ball’s “Three Amigos” – Shareef Malnik, Chairman of the Board Emeritus of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida, Gala Chair of the InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Ball, and proprietor of The Forge Restaurant | Wine Bar; Robert Hill, Gala Host and General Manager of InterContinental® Miami; and Norman Wedderburn, President and CEO of Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida.
The hotel’s mezzanine was transformed into the “World of Astrology, the Sun and the Moon” to house an extravagant cocktail reception where guests enjoyed libations from 24-foot, Burning Man-inspired boat bars, and culinary specialties at gourmet stations. In what has become a Ball tradition, guests were summoned to the Grand Ballroom for dinner by an artistic performance orchestrated by the Ball’s production agency, DECO Productions. This year, a group of dancers created a Love-In surrounding the ballroom door’s entryway, waving psychedelic-colored fabric streamers to the iconic song “Age of Aquarius.”
A walkthrough tunnel of psychedelic colors led guests to enter the ballroom, where tablescapes of tapestry and white crocheted linens were complemented by natural wood chairs. Famed DJ Irie kept the beat going, leading up to another Ball tradition, Shareef and Gabrielle’s creative moment to begin the evening. After welcoming the crowd, Shareef (emerging from backstage, wearing a wig and mustache) and Gabrielle broke into song, captivating the crowd with their moving rendition of Sonny and Cher’s “I Got You Babe.”
Ball guests dined on an elegant meal created by InterContinental Miami Executive Chef Jhonnatan Contreras – Butter Poached Lobster with beet and pickled onion puree, lobster salad terrine, aji amarillo aioli and cilantro avocado sauce; Grilled Beef Tenderloin with morel demi, chanterelle and boursin mash, caulilini and mushroom medley; and Malted Dark Chocolate Cremeux with tart cherry gelee and cocoa biscuit.
Alisan Porter, winner of The Voice 2016, returned for the third year as opening act and performed a powerful rendition of “Over the Rainbow,” followed by her singles “This Is Us” and “Revolution.” Auctioneer Brian Holland led the highly anticipated live auction, with all proceeds benefitting Make-A-Wish® Southern Florida.
When rock royalty headliner Chicago Live took the stage, guests were on their feet, singing along to favorite songs by the prolific rock band during an incredible hour-long concert as they launched into their chart-topping hits including “Saturday in the Park,” “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is?” and “Colour My World.”
The legendary Ball continued into the night at the “Sky”-themed 11th Annual InterContinental® Miami Make-A-Wish® Nightclub, presented by E11EVEN MIAMI and held on the InterContinental® Miami mezzanine. Chaired by Shareef Malnik, Vice-chaired by Ken DeGori, co-produced by Maxwell Blandford and Clif Loftin, with creative direction by DECO Productions, Jesus Rivera of Saks Fifth Avenue and Danny Santiago, the Nightclub featured none other than three-time Grammy Award Winner, DJ Wyclef Jean, The Voice Alum Paxton Ingram and DJ Affect.
Wyclef’s performance was followed by a “House Party”-themed runway show, inspired by the vogue-ing houses of the 1980s. Produced by Maxwell Blandford and Clif Loftin and presented by Saks Fifth Avenue Brickell City Centre, the show featured 64 looks, with DJ Affect on the turntables and The Voice contestant Paxton Ingram emceeing the show. Styled by Danny Santiago and directed by Saks Fifth Avenue Marketing Director Jesus Rohena, the models, provided by DAS Models and FRONT Model Management, were coifed by Danny Jelaca of Danny Jelaca Hair, with makeup by Beauty for Real by Leslie Munsell. The fun continued into the wee hours at E11EVEN MIAMI, the 24/7 UltraClub, where nightclub guests continued the revelry.
Photos by World Red Eye