Talk about team building in the extreme — that would be a group of City Hall staffers who made their virgin jump into skydiving on Wednesday.
William-Paul Thomas, City Councilwoman Sue Lovell's chief of staff, organized the daring escapade for some 30 brave souls who decided that it would be a fitting salute for Veteran's Day. They signed up at Sky Dive Spaceland, where Sgt. C.J. Messiah of the mayor's security detail made the challenging descent. Jumpers included Carl Davis of the Planning and Development Department, Claudia Vasquez and Stella Ortega of the mayor's office, Planning & Development's Susie Hargrove and the Finance Department's Tim Douglas.
"It was awesome," according to Davis, who only hours after the initial fright was planning on a return to the air with his City Hall compadres.
The real thing
For those who thought that the ropes of pearls that jeweler Franco Valobra tossed into the crowd at Festari's Una Notte in Italia Saturday night were fake, we have one thing to say. Au contraire. Those babies were as real as they come, making 10 women very, very happy. Make that 11. He gifted his wife, Nancy Valobra, with a strand as well.
Valobra was one of a score of celebrity male models who strutted the runway at the InterContinental Houston during the evening that benefited Family Services of Greater Houston. Sometimes, the guys throw roses. They always throw kisses to the women swooning in the audience. But tossing pearls was a first.
Big guns of the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo strode into the swank, French-flavored home of Susan Krohn last week for a meet-and-greet with major donors — of the $15,000 variety — and potential donors. In their Stetsons, boots and blazers, members of the Corporate Development Committee might have looked out of water surrounded by Krohn's crystal chandeliers and French antiques. But, hey, this is Houston and even our cowboys are a sophisticated lot.
Welcoming the 100 or so guests were rodeo honchos including board chairman Butch Robinson, CEO Skip Wagner, COO Leroy Shafer and executive committee members Ed McMahon and Paul Somerville. The party mix included Gracie and Bob Cavnar, Carolyn Faulk, Charlene Floyd, Paula Robinson and more.
The University of Houston celebrated the appointment of three new regents Wednesday night with a cocktail reception and program at the campus' M.D. Anderson Library. Board of regents chairman Welcome Wilson presided over the do that saluted attorneys Nandy Berry and Jarvis Hollingsworth and restaurateur Tilman Fertitta, the latter detained in New York on business. Joining in the program was UH president Renu Khator.
Among the heavy-hitter turnout were Harris County Judge Ed Emmett and wife Gwen, Harris County Commissioner Sylvia Garcia, UH regent Nelda Blair, Bill King, Bill Wright, Michael Berry, Jane and Jim Wise, Deborah Cannon, Edna Myer-Nelson and John White.
Wining & dining
That would be the Seventh of April group, a collection of wine connoisseurs, who gathered at the spanking new Stella Sola for their 425th dinner. Rave reviews followed by members that included PeteCreasey, Tom Amonette, Neil Strauss, Ben Floyd, Lenoir Josey, Lee Doggett, Ben Floyd and John Cooper.
New guy in charge
Look for innovative and classier things happening at Hotel ZaZa now that Matthew Nuss has stepped into the head office. As managing director of both the Houston and Dallas ZaZa properties, the veteran (but not too veteran) hotelier is here to "relaunch" the unique hostelry.
You might remember Nuss, single by the way, from his days as Omni Hotel GM, or more recently as a partner with the Valencia Group, as in Hotel Sorella. He was spotted recently entertaining guests on the terrace at Monarch restaurant where his group sampled riches from Chef Aaron Neely's kitchen.
Designer Angel Sanchez, in town for his bridal and evening collection trunk show at Casa de Novia, bunking at Hotel Granduca. Andrea and John Mark Osborne co-hosted a Spanish-themed dinner at their River Oaks home in Sanchez' honor. The group included co-hosts Luviand Carlos Wheelock plus Courtney Fertitta, Katherine Phelps, Robin and Charles Reimer and Christine Hoffer . . .
Donna Speer celebrating her birthday at El Pueblito on Richmond where Cappy and Darlene Bisso and Franco Valobra hosted. Joining the party were Donna's husband, John Speer, plus Barbara and Ulyesse LeGrange, Anna Dean, Mary Ann and David McKeithan, Denise Bush Bahr and Philip Bahr and Olga and Gerald Bush . . .
More than a dozen Houston Texans dining at Mo's . . . A Place for Steaks including Mario Williams, Kasey Studdard, Eric Winston, Shaun Cody and Xavier Adibi.